Updated September 27, 2022 – If possible, do not keep the litter box in a bedroom unless it’s an extremely large room and the dirty cat litter box can be placed far from the bed and out of the way. Instead, put the box in a bathroom, closet or designated laundry room area. But never near your cat’s food and water – this may keep your cat from using the litter box.
If you have no choice and you must keep a litter box in the bedroom, it’s recommended that it must be cleaned at a very minimum of once a day. (depending on how many cats use it) to avoid any toxic fumes from the urine and cat excrement.
I personally keep my cat litter boxes in the laundry room and I clean them three times a day.
Ammonia builds up in a cat litter box when it becomes dirty and filled with urine and poop. This could potentially lead to over-exposure and can cause mild symptoms in humans like headaches and nausea. However, keeping the litter box consistently cleaned can prevent this.Happycatcorner.com
A pet can be a great companion, and there’s no doubt that a cat is a great pet to have as a senior.
However, you may have limited room for cat supplies and extra litter, so you might be thinking the best place for your cat’s litter box is in your bedroom.
Before you put it in that small space, however, you should know that isn’t a good idea. Dirty cat litter is a health risk
Dangers Of A Litter Box In Bedrooms
Whether your home is small or large, you must consider where to place your cat’s litter box.
Not only will it help you feel comfortable at home, but the right place will help your cat take care of their business properly.
If you put the litter box in the wrong place, it can cause problems.
- You may run the risk of toxic gas exposure from the ammonia in cat urine if the litter box is not kept clean at all times.
- If you often get up during the night, in the dark, you might risk tripping over or stepping in the litter box itself.
- Additionally, although it’s not clear if litter dust is a health hazard or not – we recommend you be safe and choose a spot where you won’t breathe in the litter dust easily.
These three issues are the most common reasons why it is dangerous to keep your cat’s litter box in your bedroom.
Can Breathing In Cat Litter Harm You?
As we’ll discuss in the following section, inhaling cat litter dust can cause medical problems. They come from a parasite that some cats carry, although not always.
Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if it’s present when you inhale cat litter dust, as it can be invisible.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, “there are no clear answers” to the question of whether the dust, itself, can cause illnesses.
He reported doing “a medical literature search to see if there were any studies linking inhalation of cat litter dust to any human health problems and found nothing.”
Due to concerns about litter dust, though, some cat owners are opting for a clay free litter, such as those made from corn, wheat, or pine.
FelinePine is one such option that you can find here.
What Disease Can You Get From Cat Litter?
While cat litter, on its own, probably won’t make you sick, cat feces can harbor the disease toxoplasmosis.
This comes from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that virtually all outdoor cats tend to carry. Some indoor cats can carry it, too.
If your cat carries the parasite and you don’t clean dirty litter boxes each day, aside from the awful litter box smell, you could be increasing the risk of getting toxoplasmosis.
This is because the parasite takes a few days to develop – such as when it’s sitting in an unscooped cat box.
While the parasite is found throughout the world, more than 40 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. The Toxoplasma parasite can persist for long periods of time in the bodies of humans (and other animals), possibly even for a lifetime. Of those who are infected however, very few have symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Even though your cat (and most healthy adults) can handle the parasite with no problem, that’s not always the case. Some people can get very sick from it.
Medical conditions that compromise the immune system can increase the risk getting sick from the parasite.
The CDC says that those at severe risk for getting toxoplasmosis are, “Persons with severely weakened immune systems, such as individuals with AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, and those who have recently received an organ transplant.”
Pregnant women should avoid cleaning a dirty box because they can get sick from toxoplasmosis, as can their newborn. In addition, while rare, toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects.
Keep that in mind as you consider whether your bedroom is a good place for a litter box.
The possibility of getting sick is not a reason to stop cleaning the litter box, though.
While cleaning it can cause you to inhale the dust, leaving it alone for days gives the parasite the ability to develop.
Then, the next time you do clean it, you’ll be at more risk for inhaling the parasite, even if you are healthy.
Since it takes a few days for the disease to develop, you can avoid getting sick through daily cleanings of the litter box.
What Are The Signs Of Toxoplasmosis In Humans?
While only about 1 to 2 out of 10 people will have symptoms, still, you should know what symptoms to look for in case you do get Toxoplasmosis.
Some of these symptoms are similar to that of other diseases, so you should rule those out first.
However, if you notice your symptoms start 5 to 20 days after you inhale cat litter dust, toxoplasmosis might be the cause.
- Sore body
- Painful lymph nodes
If you do show the signs and symptom of toxoplasmosis, you can see a doctor who can diagnose you and give you treatment. However, it’s very possible to have the disease and not develop any symptoms.
What Is The Best Room To Keep A Litter Box In?
The best locations for a litter box are in a low-traffic area, like a quiet corner of your living room. Linen closets can be a great option, but use a covered box to reduce litter box odors and dust.
Just make sure that wherever you put the litter box, it is easily accessible to the cat, according to PetMD.com.
Also, keep it away from noisy appliances, such as the washing machine or the furnace. If you have a senior cat, make sure it doesn’t have to go too far in order to use the litter box.
We realize that if you have a small place or a studio apartment, you may not have much choice in where you keep your litter box.
For better or worse, your bedroom may be the best option for you and your cat.
Read our article, Where To Put A Cat Litter Box In A Small Apartment.
While it is mostly safe to keep your cat’s litter box in your bedroom, you do need to take some precautions:
- Keep the litter box as far from your bed as you can, so that you and your cat have some space. This also reduces the risk of tripping over the litter box in the dark.
- Of course, you should avoid putting the litter box in a place that would block the bedroom door.
- You can use a covered litter box or decorate with litter box furniture specifically designed to hide a litter tray. You can also repurpose a side table, cabinet or other piece of furniture, or other items to hide the litter box. This will contain the litter dust, but can make it more difficult to clean the litter box enclosure.
Choosing the best spot for the litter box can make things easier for everyone. You will be able to sleep and relax and your cat will be able to do their thing in comfort, which will reduce litter box issues.
Of course, there’s more to choosing a great place when it comes to managing your personal safety.
Having a litter box too close to the bed can be a tripping hazard – especially for a senior who may not see very well in the dark.
For that reason, we recommend using a nightlight near the litter box to help eliminate the chances of falling.
How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?
For routine cleaning, all you need to do each day is scoop out the litter and waste your cat has left behind. You also may need to add some new litter each day so that your cat has enough.
The Humane Society recommends changing soiled litter for fresh, often. “Twice a week is a general guideline for replacing clay litter, but depending on your circumstances, you may need to replace it every other day or only once a week.”
They note that, “If you notice an odor or if much of the litter is wet or clumped, it’s time for a change. Scrub the box every time you change the litter. Use mild dish detergent to clean it, as products with ammonia or citrus oils can turn a cat off, and some cleaning products are toxic to cats.”
If you use a litter mat to help contain the stray litter your cat can scatter after using the box, gently shake it over the litter box every day or two to remove the accumulated litter.
What Is The Healthiest Cat Litter To Use?
We know – there’s an overwhelming variety of cat litter on the market these days! But which type of litter is the healthiest to use?
First of all, studies have shown that cats prefer litter made up of small particles that mimic the consistency of sand.
Cats also prefer unscented litter, probably because their noses are so sensitive. After all, some brands smell like air freshener!
Here are some varieties that give cats what they want (and people, too):
- Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter is low-dust and clumps well.
- sWheat Scoop Litter is clay-free and all natural because it’s made of wheat. The only thing about this brand is that it doesn’t clump well, so it isn’t a great choice for automatic litter boxes.
- Fresh News Small Animal Litter is made from recycled paper, which means it is dust-free and completely biodegradable.
How Do I Dispose Of Cat Litter?
When you change your cat’s litter, you need to figure out what to do with the used stuff.
Whether you live in an apartment or house, you have a couple of options:
- If you have access to double-lined bags, use those once you scoop out the old litter.
- You can also use two bags to act as a double-lined bag.
- Tie up the bag well and dispose of it in the trash outside, but make sure the trash has a lid so that other cats can’t get to it.
- Another way to seal the bag is if you use two Ziplock bags. Instead of having to tie the bag, you can simply use the zip seal to close it.
After you have collected a bag of used cat litter, you should get it out of your home as soon as you can.
If you don’t have a load of trash, you can take it out on its own. That way, you won’t have to worry about the smell, and your cat won’t be able to get into it.
Don’t ever flush clumping litter, though – it can cause problems with your septic system.
Also, if the litter does contain the T. gondii parasite, you should know that flushing it could contaminate the water supply because the parasite is resistant to the chemicals normally used at water treatment plants.
When you own a cat, among other things, you must consider where to put their food, water, and litter box.
If you have a small home, you may wonder if it’s safe to keep the litter box in your bedroom. While it can be dangerous in some regards, there are steps you can take to minimize the dangers of your cat’s litter box.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does cat poop affect your brain?
“Yes, actually. Toxoplasmosis can affect the brain. THAT SAID, it is incredibly rare for it to do so, and the only people really at risk for toxoplasmosis are pregnant women, those with impaired immune systems, VERY young infants, and elderly people in frail health. SO…don’t change litter boxes if you are pregnant, DON’T allow your 1 month old infant to sleep in the litter box, and WASH YOUR HANDS after cleaning the litter box! If you are concerned, have your cat checked for toxoplasmosis, or…just wear disposable gloves while cleaning the box and wash hands PROPERLY afterwards.” – Rebecca Elliott – Psychiatric Technician State of Tennessee
Do indoor cats have toxoplasmosis?
Indoor cats rarely (if ever) become infected with toxoplasmosis. They do not normally eat raw meat or are outdoor hunting.
Can the smell of cat litter make you sick?
The smell of ammonia fumes can be very irritating to most anyone’s respiratory tract. If you suffer from a respiratory illness, asthma, etc. It may be wise to stay away from cleaning out that litter box.
Are Cats Good Pets For Seniors?
Benefits Of Pets For The Elderly (Should Seniors Have Pets?)
What To Do With Elderly Parent’s Pets (Helpful Resources)
Benefits Of Robotic Pets For Dementia Care