ExcitedCats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How Often Should I Change Cat Litter? 3 Things to Consider

Cats, like any other pet, require a lot of care and are a big responsibility. You will need to feed them, play with them, and change their litter box. Unlike dogs, your cat won’t go out for walks, and more and more people are keeping their cats indoors to protect them, which means you will need to provide your cat with a clean litter box that they can use. If this is your first pet, one of the most common questions mos owners have is how often you will need to change the litter box. The answer depends on several factors that we are going to go over right now. Keep reading while we discuss litter type, frequency, number of cats, and more to help you provide an adequate bathroom environment for your cat, so it doesn’t break housetraining.

divider-catclaw1

1. Litter Types

The biggest thing that will determine how frequently you need to change the litter is its type. Some kinds are more absorbent than others, and some control odor better. These things will allow you to change the box less frequently, so let’s look at the most popular litter materials first.

Clay

cat near litter tray indoors
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Clay is by far the most popular litter material and is also one of the oldest. As the name suggests, clay litter is a type of natural soil that is highly absorbent. Manufacturers will add additional chemicals that cause the clay to clump in the presence of moisture, so you will see two types of clay litter, clumping, and non-clumping. If you want to use clay litter, you will need to experiment to see which kind you and your cat prefer. Most people choose to clump because it’s easier to remove the contaminants, and the clump contains the waste, so it doesn’t contaminate the rest of the litter.

Clay litter is inexpensive, works well, and is easy to clean. However, it’s extremely dusty, and some clumping types can contain dangerous chemicals and perfumes that can be harmful to your cat. Since you can spot remove the waste as your cat creates it, you will only need to replace clumping litter about once every two weeks or so. Non-clumping litter will allow the urine to spread more, so you should replace it every week.

  • Clumping Clay: Change every two weeks
  • Non-clumping Clay: Change every week

Paper

paper cat litter
Image Credit: Douglas Cliff, Shutterstock

Paper litter is increasingly popular because it is biodegradable and made from recycled materials like old newspapers, and it’s lighter and easier to manage than clay. Paper litter is also softer on your pet’s feet and doesn’t track as far into your home. One of the best features of paper litter is that it creates very little dust. However, many cats are resistant to using paper litter, and it can become soggy and messy. It also doesn’t control odor as well as clay, so you will need to change your paper litter at least twice a week.

  • Paper Litter: Change twice per week

Silica

cat poop in litterbox_Shutterstock_RJ22
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Silica litter uses highly absorbent silica gel to absorb urine quickly and even dehydrate feces which allows it to control odors extremely well. Silica beads do not create dust, but will grow when they absorb moisture, so it’s easy to see when you need to change it. In most cases, It will last about two weeks. The primary downside to using silica litter is that it tends to be more expensive than the other types, and it can be dangerous if the cat ingests it.

  • Silica litter: Change every other week

Diatomaceous Earth

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth_Anna Hoychuk_shutterstock
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Diatomaceous Earth is a type of litter that is naturally occurring and is highly absorbent. Diatomaceous Earth does not swell like silica, but it is near as absorbent, quickly drying urine and feces to eliminate odor. Diatomaceous Earth is dust-free and doesn’t track around your home. It’s also not harmful if your cat eats it though it’s doubtful it will. The downside to Diatomaceous Earth is that it’s very hard, and many cats may not want to use it, but if you can get them to try it, you will only need to change this litter about once per month.

  • Diatomaceous Earth: Change once per month

cat paw divider

2. Frequency

two cats looking at the litter box
Image Credit: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

It can be quite challenging to get some cats to drink water, while others will hover around the fountain like they work at an office job. Cats that drink more will naturally use the litter box more, and you will need to change the litter more frequently. Heavier cats will tend to eat more which will cause them to use the box more frequently. While feces don’t use up the litter as quickly as urine, it can still affect how often you need to change it.

3. Number of Cats

The number of cats in your household will also increase the frequency you will need to change the litter box. However, a good rule of thumb suggests you have one litter box for each cat and one extra when possible. If you have extra litter boxes, each cat may choose their own, so you will only need to change each every so often.

cat + line divider

Summary

While we like the Diatomaceous Earth litter in our home, not all cats will use it, so we recommend most people use a clumping clay litter, at least at first.  Most cats take to clay litter quickly, and you will only need to replace clumping clay every other week and perform quick maintenance in the meantime. If you find the clay too dusty, you can switch to one of the other types.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found the answers to your questions. If we have helped you provide a clean and odor-free bathroom for your cat, please share this guide to how often you should change your litter box on Facebook and Twitter.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock