Reducing cat poop vectors
November 10, 2015 9:57 AM   Subscribe

These baby kitties are going to live with a very nice family soon. They have litter box setup questions: 1. What will make the litter box SMELL as little as possible, besides frequency of cleaning? Types of litter? Type of box? 2. While Mom is dealing with a temporary health problem (kidney-related), what are best practices for handling poop as little as possible in getting it from box to garbage?
posted by listen, lady to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You need a Breeze Litter System!!!!! It separates the pee from the poo and makes it easy to clean up both thanks to disposable pee pads changed once a week and litter changed once a month. Just use disposable baggies to pick up the poo -- after a while kitties lose the urge to cover it so it's even easier to grab and trash. With two kitties, you may need to change the litter pad twice a week. Target sells the kit for less than Amazon and also has really good deals on subscriptions for the refills. Will never ever go back to regular litter again. /evangelical kitty litter soapboxing
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:06 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to love the crystal litter and swheat.... neither smelled bad at all, mind you this was many years ago. Mine were located in a bathroom with tile flooring and an open window.... I think if you try to box in the smell (like one of the litter house things where the cat steps in) tend to keep the smells near the box, and some picky cats don't like to use dirty smelling litter.
posted by catspajammies at 10:07 AM on November 10, 2015

1. Feline Pine. Done.

2. Gloves and a small trash bag to collect solids. Done.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Should be obvious but I feel the need to say WASH YOUR HANDS anyways.
posted by mikek at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2015

If you have money to throw at the problem the Litter Robot is a worthy investment. It's a big one-time expense but you do end up using less litter, and the poops are automatically disposed of 7 minutes after they're made, in a relatively smellproof holding bin lined with a standard trash bag. We have one cat and empty ours twice a week which means removing the trash bag, throwing it away, and putting in a new one. I noticed when looking up the link that they have a new model with a different design, I'm not sure if it's better or worse but it is more expensive and incorporates mood lighting if that's your thing.
posted by contraption at 10:13 AM on November 10, 2015

I sprinkle a layer of baking soda and that helps absorb the smell.
posted by monologish at 10:22 AM on November 10, 2015

Seconding Feline pine! also very good!
posted by catspajammies at 10:23 AM on November 10, 2015

Crystal litter is noisy, but does a stellar job with eliminating smell.
posted by 26.2 at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2015

The best litter I have found is Dr Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra. It's unscented yet somehow manages to eliminate poo/pee smell without any sort of artificial scent covering it. It's also the least dusty clay litter I've found. Oh, and you can buy a huge bag of it on Amazon for <$20 and free shipping. It's so great I have converted my cat sitter on it!
posted by joan_holloway at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. I use Yesterday's News. It is lightly scented, but I don't know if that even changes the smell at all to be honest. It only smells when my cat doesn't cover her poops enough, but not all cats like pellet litter like this. I used to use Swheat Scoop, but I found that it got tracked not just a few steps out of the box, but across the house, so if the adopter is trying to keep away from even trace amounts of poop, Swheat may not be the best choice until her health improves.

Regarding type of box: I have used covered litter boxes in the past, and they do help contain any smell that may be there (years ago I used clay litter, which smelled awful). My current cat will not enter a covered litter box though, and at any rate I've learned that I tend to forget to change the box if I can't just glance at it from across the room and see that it's been dug in and should be scooped. YMMV.

2. I'm not sure what you mean by handling poop. I've had cats for most of my life and I've only ever actually touched poop once, when my extremely enthusiastic litter-digger managed to fling some out of the box. Even than, I only touched it with my bare hand because it was the last thing I was doing before washing my hands. Get a litter scoop (if the adopter chooses to use Yesterday's News, I recommend a solid scoop instead of a sieve-style one, as the litter breaks down when wet instead of clumping), and maybe some cleaning gloves, and wash hands twice after cleaning the box - once with gloves on, and once with them off.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2015

We use disposible gloves and do it sort of like people who are picking up after their dogs while on a walk (though they usually use a small plastic bag): use the gloved hand to pick up the poop, then with the other hand, take off the glove while also turning it inside out, trapping the poop inside. Put it in the house's main trash can, so it'll go out realtively soon (sooner than in a bathroom or mudroom trash can, perhaps). Knotting the glove is optional.

We also use compressed pine pellet litter. There is virtually no smell. For our everyday litter needs, we can get it at regular supermarkets or Trader Joe's. When we're really on it, we can purchase it in large quantities, very cheaply, at more agriculturally-oriented feed-store type places, where it's sold as stall bedding.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2015

I have Omega Paw Roll N Clean litterbox, which was affordable (and I think I first read about it on the green, although I can't recall what question). It takes about 30 seconds to clean a day, no scooping, right from the little drawer into a baggie. Seconding Dr Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra for litter itself.
posted by Syllables at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what you mean by handling poop

Well, the recommendation for people at risk for toxoplasmosis, as she is, is that they not clean the litter box at all. So, given that that will not be a choice, how best to reduce that risk?
posted by listen, lady at 11:36 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you have money to throw at the problem the Litter Robot is a worthy investment.

AKA the kitty's death star. Can be worth the money, but big cats can have trouble with it. It's pretty small inside.
posted by bonehead at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2015

Are the kittens are young as they appear in your photo? If so, they shouldn't be allowed near any kind of clumping litter because much like human toddlers, baby cats try to eat inedible things. Clumping litter will cause a blockage when ingested, which is either fatal or very expensive to treat.

Safe litter media for young kittens are non-clumping clay litters and pine litter. I would avoid crystal or ceramic pellet litters as well. Wheat and corn based litters will also be eaten.

While I love my Litter-Robot, it's not recommended for cats under 5#.
posted by jamaro at 12:02 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Feline Pine is nice but some cats don't like how rough it is (and I personally don't like stepping on it... ow). It does work exactly as advertised re: smell and doesn't track very much, though it does get kicked out.

Feline Fresh is a variation of it that is also a pine litter - but in particulate form. Cats who have sensitive feets may prefer this, or cats who are used to clumping litter, as it's more like that. The downside is that it does track out more, and it is light, so I would recommend using it with a high-back litter pan or a top-entry litter pan to cut way down on fine pine particles all over the place.

It is also more expensive, but I think our cats much preferred it. We're actually just switching off Feline Pine this week because it's hurting our smaller cat's paws (we think).

Re: not handling litter: I dunno, I grab a massive contractor's garbage bag, put the whole box inside and shake it out, and then replace the box and tie off the bag. I don't touch much, but if I were pregnant, I'd add a mask and elbow-length nitrile gloves (because I'm paranoid). Speaking as someone who regularly mucks out reptiles... I suppose if I were really, really paranoid I'd use goggles! That seems like fantastic amounts of overkill though.

Oh, and if you use the Pine, replacing the litter more often than necessary (so while the pellets are still pellets and not sawdust, from urine) will cut down on airborne dust.
posted by Nyx at 12:02 PM on November 10, 2015

We use regular ol' litter from Costco (although it's clumping) and scoop it into a Litter Locker II once a day. Then empty that out once per week.
posted by getawaysticks at 12:43 PM on November 10, 2015

I also have the Omega Paw II and a Litter Locker, and I use Arm & Hammer Pet box baking soda sprinkled above and below litter. Honestly what helps most is that the box takes 30 seconds to clean, so I check it whenever I use the bathroom and roll it as needed--at least twice a day. Every week the box is completely emptied, sprayed with Nature's Miracle, air dried, and refilled with more soda and fresh litter.
posted by Hypatia at 1:17 PM on November 10, 2015

PS your tiny kittens may need a little ramp or step to get into the box
posted by Hypatia at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2015

> Can be worth the money, but big cats can have trouble with it. It's pretty small inside.

This is true, and was concern for us (our cat is 15 lbs and on the timid side, and has been known to reject litter boxes.) Our cat took right to it, fortunately, though I'm not sure what recourse we would have had if we set it all up and he hated it. I would think those kittens would fit without a problem, and would thus be more likely to start and continue using it. The nice thing is that every time they go in they're greeted with a fresh, smooth expanse of clean litter, so if they're squeamish about box cleanliness but not about confined spaces it's perfect.
posted by contraption at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2015

the recommendation for people at risk for toxoplasmosis, as she is, is that they not clean the litter box at all.

If the kittens were raised as indoor cats, and they will now go to house where they will remain indoor cats, and if that house has not been occupied in human memory by any outdoor cat, and if reasonable handwashing precautions are taken, regardless of litter system used, the risk of any human contracting toxoplasmosis from said kitties approaches zero. As in point [many zeroes] one percent chance.

Outdoor cats, on the other hand, would be a different story. They can pick up toxo any day of the week. Indoor cats can also pick up toxo, from spores left in the house by a previous outdoor cat occupant many moons ago. (I know this from personal experience.) So if these cats are of the outdoors persuasion (or if there was a previous outdoor cat in the house) I would recommend extreme sanitary precautions for Mom during this temporary health situation. As in, use gloves, wash hands as for surgery, wear a face mask if you're going to sweep or pour used litter.
posted by beagle at 2:49 PM on November 10, 2015

Thanks, all.

They will be indoor cats, but their mama may have been an outdoor cat.

They're also not coming home for another 2 weeks, so they'll be a little bigger.

(I would name them Mulder and Scully, but the 10-yr-old boy they're going to would probably balk.)
posted by listen, lady at 3:17 PM on November 10, 2015

Honestly what helps most is that the box takes 30 seconds to clean, so I check it whenever I use the bathroom and roll it as needed--at least twice a day.

Another vote for the Omega Roll n Clean. I use Fresh Step UNSCENTED, which only comes in one variety, but I think the litter box is the main reason it doesn't smell. I have found that the lighter kinds of litter (shweat, World's Best, etc.) do not work well with the box. I'd love for someone to say I'm doing it wrong, because the World's best was excellent.

One note: The box is the Anti-Tardis; due to the internal sifting system it is smaller on the interior than it appears. If my cat was a little bit bigger or a little more fussy we'd have a problem. Get the larger one.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:31 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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