Litter trays should be scooped at least once a day (twice is better), with all solids removed. Clumping litter causes cat urine to clump (hence the name), obviously, making this easier to scoop out too. If too much litter has been removed, top up with a little fresh litter.
Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning litter boxes and if you are pregnant you should avoid cleaning out litter boxes completely to avoid the risk of exposure to toxoplasmosis.
Litter boxes should be completely emptied out and disinfected at least once a week (we only have one cat), the more cats sharing a litter tray, the more frequently it will need to be cleaned.
I find that even with daily and weekly cleaning, litter trays can become a bit smelly over time. My suggestion is to completely empty out the litter trays, fill your laundry tub with hot water and your preferred disinfectant and completely submerge the litter trays for 5-10 minutes to ensure they are clean all over.
While you are doing this you can vacuum the floor where the trays are kept and mop the area. I find it helps to wipe down walls and skirting boards at the same time just incase the cats have missed their target at any time.
What you will need:
Fresh cat litter
Hot soapy water
Cloth, brush or sponge to scrub the tray
Plastic bags (I use grocery bags, doubled up)
How to empty out the litter tray:
- Remove litter: Empty out the entire contents of the litter box(es) into a plastic bag. Some cat litters can be flushed or used as compost. I am personally not a fan of either. Definitely don't ever put cat litter on garden beds with fruit or vegetables growing.
- Scrub tray: Add some hot water with a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Scrub all organic material (feces) from the litter tray. Any debris on the tray will inactivate many detergents, hence the need to scrub it first.
- Disinfect tray: Avoid the use of strong smelling products as these can deter your cat from using the litter tray. Use the laundry sink for this. Many people use bleach to clean their tray. A solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water should be used. Do not use hot or boiling water as this causes bleach to lose its effectiveness. Leave the bleach to sit in the tray for 10 minutes, discard, rinse out thoroughly with clean water.
- Dry: Once the tray has been cleaned, rinse out thoroughly and dry with paper towels.
- Replace litter: Add new cat litter to a depth of approximately 2 inches.
Some people like to use disposable litter tray liners in the box, I don't really see the point of them. They have the potential to dislodge and just become an annoyance to your cat when he is digging (and all cats like to bury their waste) and are an unnecessary waste of money.
Always wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
Cleaning litter trays when pregnant
Pregnant women are advised to avoid cleaning litter trays due to the risk of toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Infection in people is generally self-limiting, if a pregnant woman becomes exposed for the first time during pregnancy, it can cause serious damage, if not miscarriage to the unborn fetus.
Cysts are passed in the cat's feces, which become infective within 24 hours. It is therefore extremely important to remove feces from the litter tray at the very least once a day, preferably twice a day. If you are a pregnant woman, it is safer to have somebody else clean litter trays, however, if you must do them yourself, take precautions and wear rubber gloves, I also recommend covering your mouth and nose with a mask or a scarf. Place solids in a plastic bag and dispose of in your outside garbage bin. Wash your hands with the rubber gloves on, remove, and then wash your hands again. Better safe than sorry.