What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Cat’s Litter Box? It’s Dangerous For Both You & Your Furry Friend
If you have a cat, especially more than one of them, then you already know that cleaning their litter box is the biggest downside to owning them. Sure, it's beyond frustrating when they scratch up your favorite chair, and yeah, their food smells pretty awful. But these annoyances don't really compare to getting on your hands and knees and scooping their waste out of a small box, trying to breathe clean air without making yourself gag in the process. It's gross, it smells, and it feels quite unsanitary — but it has to get done, and so, as a cat owner, you suck it up and do it. And if you don't do it often enough? There are some pretty gross things that happen if you don't change a cat's litter box.
You might wonder how long it's safe to go without changing the litter box. However, it's better to get into the habit of cleaning their box regularly, at least twice a week, more if you have several cats. For one thing, if the box doesn't get cleaned regularly, it's going to smell bad. Like, first thing that hits you when you walk in the house kind of bad.
And unfortunately, that's the least of your worries. Not changing the litter box can lead to some serious illnesses, not just for your cat, but for you as well. Check out some of the things that can happen when you let the box go for too long, and I promise it will never happen again.
1. UTI And Other Bladder Problems
For the most part, cats are very clean animals who like their surroundings to also be clean. If their litter box is full and super dirty, they aren't going to go in there to do their business, even if they really need to. One of two things will happen: they'll go somewhere else, or they'll hold it in until the box is clean. If they do the latter, that can lead to some serious issues, like a UTI, bladder infection, or kidney problems.
For humans, bladder issues are obnoxious, but not too serious. For cats, they're a big deal. When a cat has a small bladder issue, it can very quickly become a bigger issue, like a blockage or failure that could result in the need for surgery and even death.
2. Overexposure To Ammonia For Humans
A dirty litter box isn't just hazardous to a cat, it can also be bad for you or whoever is cleaning it. One negative thing that can happen is an overexposure to ammonia, which gets produced as urine and feces accumulates. Ammonia is a toxic gas that can lead to mild problems like headaches or nausea, or something more serious, like pneumonia.
3. Spreading Of Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections can pass through cat feces to humans, one of them being cat scratch fever. It's also known as bartonellosis, and is one of the most recognized zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be passed from animals to humans) associated with cats. This can result in fatigue, headaches, body aches, and a fever.
4. Parasite Transfer To Humans
Parasites are another icky thing that can be passed onto you from a filthy litter box. The scariest one would be Toxoplasma gondii, which can produce fever-like symptoms and has even been linked to increased suicidal thoughts and tendencies. These parasites can also get into your cat as well, making the animal sick.
Salmonella isn't only transmitted through food - you can get it from dirty litter boxes. E.coli can also be found in there. Don't let it build up!
6. Fungal Infections
If your cat uses a dirty litter box too much, it can end up contracting fungal infections like ringworm or hookworm. And then, if you're in contact with an infected cat, it can easily pass to you. Avoid that with regular cleaning!
7. Accidents Around The House
A disease or parasite might be more serious than bathroom accidents, but still: no one enjoys coming home to a puddle of cat pee on their rug (the smell never goes away). Your cat will probably find somewhere else to go to the bathroom, and once they pick a spot, it can be really hard to get them away from it.