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5 Ways to Improve Cat Litter Longevity During Winter

Damp, chilly, humid winters can wreak havoc on your litter's lifespan. Here's how to extend it.

 |  Jan 2nd 2013  |   10 Contributions


Lucky are the Catster readers who reside in desert climes -- they don't have to worry that their cat litter will poop out before its time. Up here in the Northeast, on the other hand, the damp, chilly winters create humid conditions, which significantly shorten litter's lifespan. Obviously, this can have a seriously depressing effect on home atmospherics.

But seasoned scat scoopers have a few secrets to extending litter life (until we eventually retire to Arizona or New Mexico). Here are five tips from the trenches on how to maximize kitty litter longevity and ensure that your cat house stays smelling its best. 

Kitten in litter box by Shutterstock

1. Change it up

In winter, your litter simply won't last as long as promised on the package -- especially if it's made of wheat or corn and you live with more than one feline friend. Always keep an extra bag of your favorite litter brand on hand, just in case it's overpowered by humid conditions and gives up the ghost when you least expect it.

2. Top it off

Let's say you use a litter made of corn, you don't have an extra bag on hand, and the stuff poops out at the precise moment that the pet-supply store is closed for the evening. This scenario has befallen me a few times.

Cornmeal makes a quick and easy litter substitute. Polenta by Shutterstock

Here's a quick fix until you can restock on fresh litter: Head to the nearest supermarket and buy a few bags of coarse cornmeal and pour it into your cat's box. You'll be surprised at how well it clumps up and masks cat-dropping odors.

3. Dehumidify it

Wherever you keep the litter box in your home, deploy a dehumidifier in the immediate vicinity to help reduce moisture and keep litter at peak performance as long as possible.

The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag, made of super-porous bamboo charcoal, is a great tool for litter longevity. In the bathroom, where my litter boxes live, I keep a large Moso bag hanging from a wire hanger (just remember to refresh the bag every few months by letting it bask in full sunlight).

4. Dry it up

Diatomaceous earth -- the powdery-white fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae -- is a super-effective desiccant that's totally nontoxic to pets or people (provided you use the food-grade kind). It also kills fleas and roaches, two pests that are instinctively drawn to a pet-smelly litter box, as well as mosquitos, which show up anytime and anyplace the weather's wet.

Sprinkle some of this wondrous white stuff over your cat's litter (but try not to breathe it in, as the superfine powder can irritate the lungs), gently mix it in with the scoop, and watch the litter last longer, even in wet-weather conditions. For safety's sake, remember to select food-grade diatomaceous earth, just in case your cat (or dog) happens to dip into the litter box for a snack.

Cats really can't live outdoors, even with thick fur coats. Black and white cat in snow by Shutterstock

In a pinch, you can also sprinkle baking soda into the box, although it's nowhere near as effective, especially if it's been sitting in your damp fridge; at least use a box of baking soda that's been kept at room temperature.

Green tea leaves help neutralize nasty odors. Cat with Chinese tea by Shutterstock

5. Green it

If you're a drinker of green tea, don't discard those tea leaves after you've downed your cuppa -- dry them on a paper towel and scatter the dried leaves in your litter box. The aptly-named catechins in the tea leaves will help combat humid-weather litter malfunction by neutralizing odors in the box. Reuse, recycle, refresh!

Did we leave anything out? Care to share any tips for extending litter life? Please do so in the comments!

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