To keep a litter box clean and encourage your cat to continue using it, it’s important to dump all of the litter in your cat’s litter box once every week or two (sometimes you can go longer, depending on the type of litter you use and your cat’s litter box use). Which has many cat owners wondering how much litter to pour back into the litter box.
For this reason, you don’t want to put too much litter into the litter box or you’ll end up increasing waste and costs.
However, you also don’t want to use too little litter, or it can lead to strong litter box odors or your cat not wanting to use the litter box.
Here are some tips on how much litter to put in the litter box.
HOW DEEP SHOULD CAT LITTER BE?
Cat litter should be between 2 – 4 inches deep in the litter box.
You’ll find the right depth for your cat as you test litter depths within that range.
But any less than 2 inches and waste will be hitting the bottom of the litter box rather than the litter (which will lead to odors being absorbed into the box). Any more than 4 inches of litter and you’re wasting litter and likely making it difficult for your cat to use the litter box.
Keep in mind, “how much” cat litter you use will also depend on the size of litter box you have. A bigger box will obviously require more litter to reach the correct depth. It’s not so much about the volume of litter as it is the depth of the litter.
Although you never want to go too small when it comes to litter box size, going bigger than your cat needs can lead to a lot of litter waste.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO USE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF CAT LITTER
How much litter you put in the litter box may seem insignificant, but there are several reasons you don’t want to use too much or too little litter.
1) LITTER BOX AVERSION
Some cats are pickier than others, but in general, cats are fairly particular. If they don’t like how much, or how little litter you’re putting in the litter box, they may stop using it altogether, which can be a hard habit to correct.
There are several circumstances that can cause your cat to poop outside the litter box, which I’ve covered in this article, as well as why your cat may be peeing outside the litter box and how to fix it. But how deep the litter is could be one cause, which is easy to correct.
2) ODOR CONTROL
If your cat litter isn’t deep enough, it may lead to your cat’s waste reaching the bottom, which makes it easy for odors to absorb into the litter box. It may also mean your cat doesn’t properly cover their waste, which allows more odors to escape into the air.
Be sure you’re scooping and changing the litter frequently enough as well. That will help cut down on litter box odors.
If the litter box has too much litter, it may make it hard for your cat to walk around, and they may stumble into the mess they just left.
They may also step in their own waste if the litter is too shallow. If they don’t have enough litter to cover their waste, or to burry it deep enough, they may end up stepping in it during a second or third litter box visit of the day.
The litter box should be scooped once a day, at the minimum, no matter how much litter you put in the litter box.
Your cat has an instinct to dig before they go to the washroom and cover their waste once they’re done. If there’s not enough litter to indulge this behavior, they may decide to go to the washroom elsewhere.
5) REDUCE WASTE & SAVE MONEY
In generally, litter should be changed once every week or two (depending on the type of litter you use and your cat’s litter box use). If you fill the litter box up more than you need to, you’ll be wasting a lot of litter and money when you change it each week.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN LITTER ISN’T DEEP ENOUGH
Here are a few signs that may indicate the litter isn’t deep enough:
CAT CONSTANTLY SCRATCHES
Although there are a few reasons your cat may be excessively scratching their litter box (some of which may be health-related, so be sure to keep an eye on the behavior and talk to your vet if it doesn’t improve), not enough litter may be the reason. (You may also be interested in why your cat scratches outside the litter box)
Your cat may feel as though they’re not finding the right spot to go to the washroom, so they continue digging. This feeling may be caused by them reaching the bottom of the litter box too quickly.
The same may be true when trying to cover their waste; they may feel there’s not enough clean litter for covering, so they may dig longer than needed.
If your cat digs a lot before or after going to the washroom, try increasing how much litter is in the litter box to see if that helps.
LITTER BOX ODORS
If there’s not enough litter in the litter box, your cat may be taking a couple digs and ending up at the bottom of the litter box. Instead of urine soaking into the litter, it will hit the bottom of the litter box and soak into the litter box material (unless you’re using a stainless steel litter box like this one).
They may also be reaching the litter box liner, making holes in it and then odors are getting trapped between the litter box and the liner, which is just one of the reasons you shouldn’t use litter box liners.
A smelly litter box will be unappealing to you and your cat, and may encourage them to go elsewhere.
Increasing the depth of litter will give your cat room to dig, allow urine to be absorbed by the litter before hitting the litter box, and will allow your cat to burry their waste, which will also help reduce odors.
WASTE LEFT UNCOVERED
Cats naturally want to cover their waste. In nature, they do this to cover their scent so they’re not detected by predators. This instinct is a bonus for you because that layer of litter over their waste helps cover odors.
If your cat leaves the litter box without covering their waste, or barely covers it, it could be a sign that they don’t feel there’s enough litter to kick around.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN LITTER IS TOO DEEP
Here are a few signs that may indicate the litter is too deep:
Just as excessive digging can be a sign of not enough litter, it may also be a sign of too much litter. A way to tell the difference is to look for digging versus scratching. If your cat is quickly reaching the bottom and scratching the litter box, it may be too little litter. If your cat is digging and tossing loose litter around, it may be too deep.
When the litter is too deep, your cat may feel like they’re not getting anywhere when they dig. You don’t want them to hit the bottom of the litter box, but you also don’t want an overly full litter box to be causing litter to fall right back into the hole as they dig.
This excessive digging can also lead to more litter ending up outside the litter box as they frantically try to make a hole. You can try a cat litter mat to catch litter that lands outside the box, or one of these 5 tips to reduce tracking.
CAT NOT GOING ALL THE WAY IN THE LITTER BOX
Too much litter can make it hard for your cat to walk in the litter box. They may resort to only going halfway in the litter box to do their business, or not going in at all.
CAT IS OFF BALANCE WHEN USING THE LITTER BOX
Watch your cat as they walk into the litter box, move around, and dig. If they appear shaky, you may be using too much litter and creating an unstable surface for them to walk on.
HOW MUCH LITTER TO USE BASED ON TYPE OF LITTER
Different types of litter may require you to use more or less litter. In general, non-clumping litters can be a little shallower; 2 – 3 inches deep. Clumping litters can be deeper; 3 – 4 inches deep so that the litter doesn’t clump at the bottom of the box and stick to the pan.
HOW MUCH LITTER TO USE BASED ON LITTER BOX
No matter how big or small your litter box is, you should follow the 2 – 4 inches deep rule. If you purchase a bigger litter box, you’ll require more litter to reach the correct depth.
Although you never want the litter box to be too small for your cat, you don’t need to go too big either; that will lead to wasted litter.
Some cat owners do resort to using plastic storage bins to create a box with high sides that keep more litter in the box, however, plastic storage bins likely require a lot of litter to fill.
Your cat is going to kick litter up, no matter how deep or shallow the litter is. To keep more litter in the box, don’t go less than the recommended 2 inches, but rather, try a high-sided litter box; here are some of the best ones.
Of course, if you’re over-filling the litter box with litter, that may increase how much litter gets kicked out. Be sure not to go over the recommended 4 inches.
HOW MUCH LITTER TO USE BASED ON YOUR CAT
How much litter you put in the litter box may be dependent on your cat and their needs.
KITTENS – you can get away with less litter (2” deep) when litter training kittens. They won’t scratch as hard or dig as deep as an adult cat.
SENIOR – you may also want to go a bit shallower with the cat litter if you have a senior cat or cat with mobility issues. Too much litter can make it hard for them to walk on the litter.
HABITS – some cats like to dig and scratch more than others. If you have a cat that is obsessive about their digging, you may test how deep the litter is to see if more or less litter lessens their scratching.
In summary, test out using more or less litter, within the 2 – 4 inches range to see if it helps solve any litter box issues you and your cat may be experiencing.
I hope this article has helped you determine how much litter to put in a litter box 🙂
You may also be interested in reading:
- HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO CHANGE THE CAT LITTER?
- WHY YOU SHOULD STOP USING LITTER BOX LINERS
- BEST CAT LITTER MAT TO REDUCE TRACKING
- 5 TOP WAYS TO KEEP CAT LITTER FROM TRACKING