Few times a year, I get the following question: “what do you think of this type of litter? It is said that we can only change it once a week, once a month… “
I totally understand why cat breeders might look into those options. They are indeed more convenient, requiring less work on their side. I am sure they can be very practical… for private cat owners. For breeders, I have huge doubts. Especially when it comes to prevent diarrhoea in kittens. Let me explain why.
The hygiene of the room your kittens are staying in is of great importance, no doubt about that.
Preventing diarrhoea in kittens: sanitation-wise, focus on the litter box
Good news: most often cats and even kittens usually keep themselves clean (I say « usually » because as you know I am sure, we always have some exceptions!). When you want to prevent diarrhoea in kittens, your main focus in terms of sanitation should therefore be on the litter box. Remember: many of the pathogens causing diarrhoea in catteries (see picture below) are found inside the digestive tract, which means they are excreted via the faeces…
Some of them like Giardia and Coccidia form cysts that are resistant in the environment, and can stay a while there waiting for a cat to pick them up. Even less resistant ones like T. foetus can remain for a prolonged period of time (maybe several weeks) if they are protected by organic matter (aka stools).
It’s a daily job
The litter box is therefore a potential source of reinfection.
Only scooping the poop on a daily basis IS NOT ENOUGH, you need to get rid of the entire litter! Even if you remove all the stools and keep the litter, bear in mind there is always a little “something” remaining. Some pathogens might persist. And infections can (re)occur.
FULL-CLEAN THE LITTER BOX DAILY. AND DISINFECT IT as well. If there was one thing that should be done, it is definitely this!
- Have the right number of litter boxes (roughly 1 litter box for 3 kittens)
- Have extra-ones so that when you need to clean-disinfect one, you can simply replace it by an already clean one while you are doing the cleaning/disinfecting on the other ones
- Protozoa are often the cause of kitten diarrhoea > steam cleaning the litter boxes is a great alternative to destroy their cysts that are resistant in the environment. Do this daily.
It might sound like a pain, I agree, but remember, cleaning is the cornerstone of the protection of your cattery. Especially with kittens, you cannot cut on it.