Health Impacts of a Dirty Litter Box

Cleaning your cat’s litter box on a daily basis can become a hassle, and there may be some days where you do not feel like cleaning it at all. The stench alone can repel you from the litter box, but it is the terrible things that are hidden behind the smell that you really need to be concerned about. 

Dirty litter boxes can become a breeding ground for many different forms of bacteria and parasites. This can become dangerous if you do not keep up a regular cleaning schedule, as Brentmore Labs warns. These are just a few ways explaining how your health and the health of others could be impacted by a dirty litter box.


Health Risks for Humans

Dirty litter boxes can affect humans and cats equally, and they both are at high risk of contracting diseases from litter boxes. There is an astounding amount of diseases that humans can be exposed to through their cat’s waste that can affect their physical and mental health alike. You may need to contact your doctor if you believe you have contracted some form of sickness because of your cat’s litter box.


Cat’s urine has ammonia in it, and an overexposure to ammonia can cause you to have serious breathing problems or headaches, and you can even end up catching pneumonia. Ammonia is a toxic gas that can irritate and even damage your lungs.

Other ammonia related symptoms include lightheadedness, minor headaches, and irritation to your lungs. Your cat may also be prone to being affected by the buildup of ammonia in their litter box, so make sure you see your doctor and take your cat to the vet if either of you start to feel sick.


Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is transmittable to humans through their cat’s urine and waste, caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii has been proven to cause behavioral changes and illness through exposure and can stay within the human body for an indeterminable amount of time.

It could even go so far as to affect your cognitive functions and wear down your memory, even if you have never had any similar memory or cognitive issues prior to being exposed. You will be even more at risk of contracting this disease if you have a compromised central nervous system.

Cat Scratch Disease

Cat scratch disease happens as a result of being exposed to a cat or litter box that has been infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria. Cat scratch disease can easily affect people who are immunocompromised, and can become a severe condition for them to suffer with.

Cats can become infected with Bartonella henselae bacteria through infected parasites such as fleas and ticks, regardless of whether they are outdoor or indoor cats. They are highly common amongst outdoor cats and symptoms in humans appear as loss of appetite, body aches, headaches, fatigue, and so much more.

Health Risks for Cats

Urinary Tract Infection

All of the aforementioned diseases and bacteria can affect cats as well, but other dire health risks to look out for include urinary tract infections or kidney issues. Cats will usually not approach or use their litter box until it has been thoroughly cleaned, opting to hold their waste in instead. This can lead to negative impacts on your cat’s kidney and bladder health over an extended period of time.

Your cat could contract a urinary tract infection, which will cause them an immense amount of discomfort and also may make them continue to avoid using the litter box. The cost of treating a UTI in your cat will also be quite heavy. It is important to take them to the vet if they show signs of having a UTI and clean the litter box regularly in order to help avoid it from happening altogether.

Cleaning Your Cat’s Litter Box

Cleaning your cat’s litter box regularly will not only prevent you and your cat from being exposed to bacteria, but it will also encourage your cat to continue using it properly and reduce the strength of the odors emanating from the litter box. It can become a gruesome chore over time, but it needs to be done properly in order to keep you and your cat healthy and happy in your environment. Following a regular cleaning schedule and protecting yourself from the bacteria that may be residing in the litter box will help lower the chances of contracting illnesses.

You will want to keep a litter scooper, cleaning supplies, face masks, garbage bags and gloves around you whenever you begin cleaning your cat’s litter box. You may have different cleaning schedules depending on the type of cat litter you use, but make sure to keep the schedule consistent.


Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is a big part of being a cat owner. Keep yourself and your cat happy and healthy by preventing the accumulation of bacteria in your cat’s litter box.

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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