Bugs in litter box can be disturbing for your cat. These bugs’ presence also indicates the inherent pest issues in your house.
Insects in the litter box can make your cat completely abandon it.
That’s a big waste of time that you put into potty-train your cat!
But this guide has your cat’s back.
It reveals the simple steps that you can use right now to get rid of the bugs in the cat litter box.
It also has a list of bugs that infest cat litter box and the causes that play a role in drawing those bugs.
9 Reasons For Bugs In Litter Box
A cat litter box is a magnet for bugs because it has all the conditions that can cause the bugs to breed and hide in it.
Here are the 10 reasons for bugs in the litter box –
Poor Hygiene Practices
If you don’t clean the litter box often, then it leads to bugs. The decaying wastes in the litter box attract bugs and flies.
These bugs and flies can also lay eggs in the litter box, leading to more of them.
Later in the post you’ll find out what bugs and flies infest litter boxes. For now, let’s move onto the second reason for insects in your cat’s litter box.
Type Of Litter Used
The type of litter that you use in your cat’s litter box also plays a significant role in drawing bugs. Many cat owners sadly ignore this.
Natural litters such as litters made from corn, wood, or wheat are more appealing to pests when they get damp and start to decay.
I’ll recommend the best types of litter to use in the cat litter box further down the post.
Leftover Food And Drink Near Litter Box
Many cats have the habit of not finishing their foods. My cat, Oblomov, is one of them.
He’ll always leave behind some food in his food bowl.
If you feed your cat near the cat litter box, then the leftover food attracts bugs. These bugs can then quickly move into the litter box.
Strong Odor From The Litter Box
Strong odors of cat urine and feces attract bugs.
If you don’t clean the litter box often or don’t neutralize the odors, then the litter box is bound to have bugs.
Dampness In The Home Or In The Litter
Most bugs that get in the litter box are moisture bugs, meaning that damp environments attract them.
If there’s a dampness problem in your house, then your house will certainly be a magnet for many bugs.
Some of these bugs will sneak into the litter box.
Also, if there’s constant dampness in the litter box, then it’ll attract insects and flies.
Proximity To The Windows
If you keep the litter box near the windows or doors, then many bugs will crawl through the windows to access the litter box.
Your windows are a gateway for many bugs to enter homes. And keeping the cat litter box near the windows is a bad idea.
Excessively Clingy Litter
Some brands and types of cat litter stick to the cat’s paws and fur.
When the cat shakes it off in other areas of the home, it can spread the inviting odor of the litter across the house.
This odor will certainly draw bugs not just to the litter box, but also in other areas of your home.
Bugs In Cats
If your cat has a worm infection or fleas, then these insects can end up in the litter box.
Their presence in the cat litter box will attract more bugs.
Warm Days Of The Year
Summer is the period when most bugs are active. Some of these bugs also enter homes looking for damp areas to hide.
And when they find an unclean damp litter box, these bugs can’t resist sneaking into the litter box.
13 Types Of Bugs In The Cat Litter Box
The wastes and dampness in the litter box attract bugs are drawn to these environments.
The following are the most common bugs in the cat litter box –
- Fungus gnats
- Fruit flies
- Phorid flies
- House flies
- Drain flies
- Carpet beetles
- Litter mites
Let’s get into each of these bugs to find out what they look like.
Fungus gnats are tiny black flies that look like mosquitoes.
These flies grow up to 1/8 inches in size. They’ve long legs and a pair of long antennae that differentiate them from mosquitoes.
Another factor that separates fungus gnats from mosquitoes is that fungus gnats don’t bite.
These are nuisance flies that enter homes in droves during the warmer days of the year.
Fungus gnats live and breed in decaying organic wastes and damp soil beds of both indoor and outdoor plants.
Their breeding habits make the cat litter box a perfect place for fungus gnats.
Like the fungus gnats, fruit flies lay their eggs in decaying organic wastes. The ripe fruits, vegetables, kitchen wastes, and the cat litter attract the fruit flies inside the house.
These flies will lay their eggs in the cat litter, causing more fruit flies inside the house.
Fruit flies grow between 1/16 and 1/8 inches in size. These flies are tan with reddish eyes and they’re not as slender as fungus gnats.
You can confuse fruit flies with fungus gnats, and vice versa, because of their tiny size.
However, fruit flies don’t breed in the wet soil beds like the fungus gnats.
If you’re noticing small black flies in the house that are not fruit flies, then chances are they’re fungus gnats.
Decaying organic matter, especially animal feces draw phorid flies.
Outdoors phorid flies will lay their eggs in animal feces, garbage cans, decaying wastes, and even in the carcasses of animals and birds.
Phorid flies, which are also known as humpback flies because of a hump on their thorax, are tiny black flies that measure 1/8 – ¼ inches in size.
These flies will sneak inside the house through the windows if they can pick up an unclean litter box inside the house.
Phorid flies can also lay eggs inside the choked drains in the house.
So, along with cat litter, the home’s drains can become a breeding ground for these flies.
Your average house fly love things like wastes and fecal matters. And the cat litter box attracts house flies like a magnet.
House flies are a bit bigger than other flies like fruit flies and phorid flies.
The average size of the house fly is ¼ inches with four dark stripes on their thorax.
House flies are gray or black and they’ve got transparent veined wings.
House flies gravitate towards wastes because they lay eggs in them. Also, things like feces and organic wastes are also food sources for these flies.
Drain flies, also known as sewer flies or moth flies, are tiny gray moth-like flies that breed in places like decaying wastes, grime, sludge, and sewer wastes.
So, the cat litter box attracts drain flies naturally. Strong stench from wastes also draws these flies.
Drain flies are common in damp areas of the house such as bathrooms, basements, and kitchen.
Drain flies in those areas of your house won’t take long to locate the litter box and start laying eggs on them.
Cockroaches and wastes are a marriage made in heaven. These nasty bugs can eat anything that emits a strong odor.
If you haven’t been changing the litter in the litter box often, then the first species of bugs that will target the litter box is the cockroaches.
Cockroaches can even lay their eggs in the litter.
Depending on the type of litter and how clean the box is, ants are also attracted to the cat litter box.
These ants feed on the food crumbs in the cat’s excrements.
But the sugar present in the cat’s urine also plays a significant role in drawing ants to the litter box.
The tiny sugar ants that infest homes are more likely to get in the cat’s litter box than other ant species such as carpenter ants.
However, the presence of ants in the litter box indicates that there’s a thriving ant infestation in your home.
These ants can bite the cat causing your furry friend some discomfort.
Fleas aren’t your typical litter bugs. They don’t prefer the decaying damp wastes in litter box.
However, if your cat has fleas, then some of the fleas can drop off your cats and end up in the litter box.
Cats and pets like dogs bring fleas from the outdoors.
Fleas and their eggs can drop off their bodies and end up in places like your bed, pet bed, couch, and litter box.
Fleas are parasitic tiny brown bugs that survive solely on mammal blood. These bugs are 0.12 inches in size and they’re efficient jumpers.
Carpet Beetle Larvae
Carpet beetle larvae are tiny dark brown worms with tan stripes and hairy stripes. The larvae are destructive fabric pests and pantry bugs.
Adult carpet beetles enter homes to lay their eggs. But adult beetles are harmless.
The carpet beetle larvae seek out furnishings such as carpets, rugs, taxidermies, and clothes made from natural fibers such as wool, silk, leather, fur, feathers etc. All these things are their food sources.
But carpet beetle larvae can also end up in the cat litter box because they also feed on animal hair and dead insects.
Silverfish are tiny scaly long insects with tapered bodies. They’re shiny gray in color, giving them a silvery appearance.
Silverfish grow up to ½ an inch in size and they’ve a pair of long antennae. There’s also a pair of long appendages at their rear end.
Silverfish is also one of the most regular visitors to the cat litter box.
These insects prefer damp and humid environment. And the cat litter box, especially when it’s unclean, provides them exactly that.
Also, the traces of sugars and starches present in the cat urine and feces attract silverfish because these are the food sources for silverfish.
These insects are nocturnal. So, if you keep the cat litter box in a dark secluded area, then silverfish will make the litter box their home.
Some types of cat litter, especially the ones that are of natural materials, develop molds. These molds are also food sources for silverfish.
A combination of all these factors makes the cat litter box a perfect hideout for the silverfish.
Litter mites are nothing but grain mites. These mites are tiny grain bugs that can end up in the cat litter box too.
That usually happens when there are too many of these mites in your kitchen.
Litter mites are microscopic bugs that are invisible to the naked eye. However, under a microscope they appear as oval, clear, with eight legs.
Litter mites get inside the litter box because they thrive in environments that are humid.
Litter mites are natural decomposers that feed on organic materials. The molds that develop on decaying organic matter, such as cat litter, are also food sources of litter mites.
Outdoors earwigs live under the damp soil beds underneath rocks, plant pots, and in other moist areas such as leaf litter and decaying wood blocks.
Their likeness for damp wastes makes the cat litter box a perfect hiding place for them.
Also, earwigs are predators that hunts and eat small insects.
As an unclean litter box is a haven for bugs, there are many potential preys for the earwigs to hunt.
Earwigs are bugs with pincers in their abdomen. They’re dark brown to reddish-brown in color and they grow up to 1.2 inches in size.
Earwigs are also damp bugs. They prefer to hide in the tight gaps and corners in humid areas like bathroom, basement, and kitchen.
Maggots are the larvae of the flies that cat litter box attracts. These are tiny, white, clear, legless worms that you can see wiggling in the litter box.
So, they can be the larvae of fungus gnats, house flies, fruit flies, and phorid flies.
These maggots feed on the wastes in the litter box. The fungus gnat larvae also feed on the molds that form on the decaying litter.
Over time, these maggots will turn into pupae before they emerge as adult flies from their cocoons.
If your cat has worms problems, then you can also notice thin white long worms like pin worms in the cat litter box.
Maggots in the litter box can also attract their predators such as earwigs, ants, and even spiders.
So, it makes complete sense to get rid of the bugs in the litter box and keep it clean.
How To Get Rid Of Bugs In The Litter Box?
Fortunately, there are no separate ways to get rid of different bugs in a litter box.
You get rid of the bugs in the litter box no matter what bug is infesting it.
Here’s how –
Empty Your Cat’s Litter Box
The first step is to remove the old litter from the litter box.
Put the old litter in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it by following proper waste disposal procedures.
The old stale litter always consists of eggs and larvae of bugs that mature into adults and cause more problems for you and for your cat.
Wash The Litter Box
Take warm soapy water and wash the litter box with it. Take a scrubber and clean all the corners of the litter box.
Washing with warm soapy water will kill any remaining bugs in the litter box.
Leave the litter box to dry before you proceed to the next step.
Disinfect The Litter Box
You don’t need to buy any disinfectant to disinfect or sanitize the litter box. You can easily do it with white vinegar.
Spray some white vinegar, both inside and outside of the litter box and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Now take a damp cotton cloth and wipe off the entire litter box.
Scatter Some Baking Soda In The Litter Box
Some cats dislike the smell of vinegar.
That’s why it’s important to remove the acidic smell of vinegar from the cat litter box.
You can do it by scattering some baking soda in the litter box. And let it sit for 10 minutes.
Baking soda deodorizes and neutralizes the smell of white vinegar. So, it’s important that you shouldn’t miss the step.
Use The Right Type Of Cat Litter
Just like you use the right type of sand for your child’s sandbox, in the same way you need to use the right type of litter for your furry family member.
Cat litter made from natural materials such as wheat, corn, and wood decay fast. They also absorb a lot of moisture, which leads to the formation of molds.
Both these factors play a significant role in attracting bugs and flies.
So, avoid using natural cat litters.
I highly recommend using silica-based cat litter or clay-based litter. These cat litters don’t soak in as much moisture as natural cat litter does.
So, they’ve a longer lifespan and help in keeping bugs away.
Pour a layer of baking in the cat litter box before filling up the litter. It helps in many ways.
First, baking soda absorbs the excessive moisture in the litter box. That expands the life of the cat litter.
Second, baking soda is a natural bug repellant.
Scoop The Poop, Daily
Don’t let cat poop sit in the litter box for days. It has a lot of negative effects apart from attracting bugs.
So, dispose of the cat poop as soon as you see it.
Keep The Litter Box Away From Doors And Windows
The doors and windows are the entry points for many bugs and flies.
Keeping the litter box near these areas attracts these bugs, giving them an open invitation to nest and breed in the litter box.
So, it’s best to keep the litter box away from the windows and doors.
The best place to keep the litter box is quiet easy-to-reach corners that offer privacy to your cat.
Keep the litter box away from food bowls, water bowls, and away from appliances such as washing machines.
Keep Sticky Fly Traps Near the Litter Box
This is an optional step to ensure that flies don’t lay their eggs in the litter box.
Hang or keep a few sticky fly traps a few feet away from the litter box. There are yellow sticky traps available that are easy to use.
Bright colors like yellow attract flies, especially fungus gnats. When the flies land on the sticky side of the traps, they get stuck.
The dampness in the cat litter box and cat feces make the cat litter box a magnet for a host of bugs.
These bugs will breed and feed on the cat litter box. That can not only make your cat anxious but also play a role in causing bug infestations in the house.
This guide revealed the bugs that litter box attracts. And the best ways to get rid of them and keep them away.
So, have you noticed any other bugs in the cat litter box that is not on the list? What did you do to get rid of them?
Mention in the comments below and please don’t forget to share this guide who is struggling with bugs in the litter box.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!