How often you need to change your cat litter largely depends on the type of clumping litter you use. For instance, silica-based cat litter absorbs liquid and odors differently than a clay-based litter.
The base material is really going to be a driving factor in finding out how long your kitty litter will last. The majority of litters out there aren’t perfect. Some will hide odors well, but then you’ll have to deal with kitty tracking the stuff all over the house. Others might be good for the environment, but may not be as effective as the traditional clay.
Consequently, it will probably take a little bit of trial and error to balance everything out and find the right litter for you.
So? How Often?
For the purpose of this article, we’ll be strictly speaking about clumping litter. Although, if you do use a non-clumping formula, you can still get a rough idea as to how often to change the cat litter.
As I said, it really does depend on the what the litter is actually made out of. Since clay is the most popular choice, we’ll start with that.
The general rule of thumb for replacing clay litter is about twice a week. However, keep in mind that this is assuming you are still cleaning the litter box at least every other day. Ideally, you really want to be scooping out those clumps on a daily basis.
Obviously, no one enjoys picking up after their cat. But it must be done. That’s why a lot of cat parents have actually started looking to modern solutions to take this chore off of their plate. You can check out our guide to scoopfree self-cleaning litter boxes if you’re interested.
In any event, scooping out the litter box daily is a great habit to get into. Not just because it’ll keep your feline happy, but also because oftentimes this will really prolong the lifetime of the litter.
This means that (assuming you only have one cat) you could actually get two or three weeks out of a batch of litter instead of just one. And we all know kitty litter isn’t cheap, so daily scooping could really free up some money in the budget.
Crystal cat litter works a bit differently than clay. It doesn’t form clumps; instead, you just scoop out the solids and rake the crystals every so often to help absorb the liquids.
As a result, a bed of crystal litter has a much longer life-span than clay does. You will only have to change crystal cat litter about every one to two months. But again, the time frame changes depending on how many cats are using the litter box and how many litter boxes you actually have.
While silica and clay-based litters are arguably the most effective, they are absolutely terrible for the environment. $5 billion pounds of clay is mined every year… just for pet litter. Crazy, right? And most of that ends up in landfills all around the world, where it will sit forever.
If you consider yourself a ‘green’ person, you’re going to want to avoid those two types of litter altogether. While it’s true that the natural, biodegradable options aren’t the most efficient, they are definitely better for the earth. They’re also the healthier option for both you and your cat. Plus, most brands are flushable, making for easier disposal.
Check out our post on the best litter for kittens for a deep dive into how much litter can actually effect the health of everyone using it.
Clay litter produces a ton of dust that can actually cause health problems. Same with crystal litter, although to a lesser extent. However, silica gel litter is definitely better than clay, but still isn’t biodegradable.
Natural cat litter is made from things like corn, wheat, grass, paper or walnut shells. You’ll have to completely change out this type of litter about once a week, give or take. Although multi-cat households will have to make the swap even more frequently.
How Long Should Cat Litter Last?
How long a litter should last is a question that goes hand in hand when asking how often do you need to change clumping cat litter.
And again, it depends on your particular situation.
The number of cats you have, the amount of litter boxes and the type of litter used are all variables in the litter longevity equation. Calculating the cost of litter and weighing the benefits of each type is an important step when considering whether or not to adopt a new kitten or when reevaluating the current litter you use. Especially if you have a tight budget.
With daily scooping, clay litter will usually last about two to three weeks. However, this can be pretty subjective; some people don’t mind the unpleasant odors as much as others. You may even get a month out of a bed of clay.
With crystal cat litter you should get a solid two weeks out of it. You still have the remove the solids with a scooper and rake the crystals every so often, but silica-based litter is really good at absorbing liquids and concealing the smell.
Litter made with natural ingredients like corn or wheat will require a bit more attention. Depending on the material and brand, you can get anywhere between one to three weeks out of the stuff. Corn-based has a shorter life-span, but materials like wood could last up to three weeks without needing a change.
How Do You Make Cat Litter Last Longer?
The first trick to making your litter last is very basic: keep the litter box clean.
You should be thoroughly cleaning the box every time you change out the litter. Not only will this help with the smell, it will ensure your kitty doesn’t develop any litter box problems that will result in an unwanted mess.
Another easy thing to do is to just avoid scented litter. While it may seem like lavender-scented litter will be tolerable longer than unscented litter, it just… isn’t It’s like when you spray in an already stinky bathroom- the smells just intermingle to create an entirely new and awful smell.
The last thing I’ve already mentioned- get yourself a self-cleaning litter box. I’m telling you, it’ll change your life. It’s a bit of an investment, but you’ll never have to scoop or smell a soiled litter box again.
If you do decide to go this route, I highly recommend the Litter-Robot 3 Connect. It’s a high-powered machine that’s almost too convenient. If you really want your litter to last, the litter-robot will be your new best friend.