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Cat litter can be a link to your cat’s overall health.

June 16, 2019 3 min read

Failing to keep your cat’s litter box clean can create a health hazard for your feline. If you’re not scooping regularly, you could also miss catching a medical condition your cat has developed that needs attention.

Cats prefer a clean litter box when doing their business. If they encounter clumps of urine or unscooped poop, they’re more likely to find a more desirable location outside of the litter box, such as your living room carpet or area rug in the foyer. When a cat’s litter box becomes an undesirable location to eliminate or defecate, you could end up with a cat who exhibits litter-box aversion. Since they have to go somewhere to do their business, they’ll find an alternative surface, and it won’t likely be a place acceptable to you.

When cats use a litter box, they naturally use their paws to dig a spot to leave their droppings. Once they’ve done their business, cats then typically work to bury their treasure. In the wild, this instinctual behavior prevents potential predators from tracking the cat’s scent so they don’t become prey. In a domesticated setting, cats still instinctively cover their droppings, and they prefer a relatively clean surface with no previous soiling to contend with. Cats don’t like to get their paws soiled in a filthy litter box. As you know, cats will spend hours grooming themselves throughout the day. Climbing into a disgusting litter box and digging around is not something cats will be much fond of doing.

Some cats who encounter a dirty litter box will either go right outside the box or elsewhere in the house. Some will even hold their urine for longer periods of time to avoid using a dirty litter box, which can lead to health issues for your kitty. Scoop your cat’s litter box daily and give it a thorough cleaning with soap and warm water once a week.

Here’s why it’s so important to keep your cat’s litter box clean:

  • If your cat holds his urine to avoid going in a filthy litter box, your cat could develop feline urethral obstruction (FUO), a potentially life-threatening condition. Crystals, stones or mucous can build up in your cat’s urine, preventing your cat from urinating. If this occurs, your cat will become lethargic, may vomit, and could develop kidney failure or a heart arrhythmia.
  • A cat’s waste can carry certain diseases as well as parasites. To avoid spreading disease and parasites to other cats in the home who might wander into the infected cat’s litter box, scoop regularly. 
  • If you fail to scoop often, you might miss the tell-tale signs of a serious medical issue. For example, if your cat develops diabetes, you’ll begin to see larger and more frequent clumps. Or if your cat has an obstruction, you’ll notice the lack of urine in the litter box. You can also detect changes in their stool, such as if they’re having diarrhea, which might signal disease. But if you’re not scooping regularly, these signs will go unnoticed and time may be of the essence for your ill feline.

In some rare cases, your cat might even develop a dangerous reaction to the litter in his box. Some kitties may be allergic to dust or fragrances in the litter. Allergy symptoms might include watery or irritated eyes, a rash, incessant scratching, coughing and sneezing, swelling around the eyes, or litter-box aversion. Have your cat assessed at the vet to determine the allergen, and switch to a dust-free, fragrance-free litter.

Just as important as the type of litter box your cat prefers is the contents you provide for him to bury his treasure. Scoop, scoop, scoop. It’s a dirty job, but it comes with being a responsible cat parent. Not only will regular scooping keep your home smelling fresh, but it also reduces health risks and helps you detect any signs your cat might be having medical issues. 



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