Can You Sleep In The Same Room As A Cat Litter Box?

The Risks of Sleeping Near a Litter Box

Having your cat’s litter box in the bedroom poses some health risks that are important to consider. The main concerns with litter boxes in sleeping areas are exposure to ammonia, bacteria, parasites, and allergens that can accumulate in the litter.

Ammonia is a gas that forms as urine breaks down in the litter box. Even low levels of ammonia can irritate the lungs and throat, potentially leading to respiratory issues like bronchitis or pneumonia according to Pet Checkers (https://www.petcheckers.co.uk/cat-litter-box-in-the-bedroom/). Ammonia exposure is especially risky for people with asthma or other breathing problems. The ammonia can trigger asthma attacks or make existing breathing difficulty worse.

In addition to ammonia risks, bacteria and parasites in used litter can also pose a hazard. Toxoplasmosis is one example – this parasitic infection can be found in cat feces and spread through litter dust according to Catological (https://www.catological.com/is-it-safe-to-have-a-litter-box-in-your-bedroom/). Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from toxoplasmosis. Bacteria from urine and feces can also lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal infections if inhaled or ingested.

Cat allergens in dander and litter dust are another consideration, especially for those with feline allergies. Allergens circulate more at night when sleeping, so proximity to the litter box can make symptoms worse.

For these reasons, having a litter box right in the bedroom is generally not recommended. But there are ways to minimize risks if needed, which we’ll explore next.

Tips for Safe Co-Sleeping

When deciding to keep a litter box in the bedroom, it’s important to take precautions for safe co-sleeping. The main health concern with sleeping near cat litter is inhaling airborne particles that can trigger respiratory issues or infections. To mitigate risks:

  • Keep the litter box as far away from your bed as possible, ideally in a separate corner or enclosed area of the room.
  • Use a covered litter box rather than an open tray, which can help contain dust and smells.
  • Scoop waste out of the litter box frequently, at least once a day.
  • Replace all of the litter regularly as recommended by the manufacturer, typically every 2-4 weeks.
  • Run an air purifier, preferably a HEPA filter model, to remove allergens and fine particles from bedroom air.
  • Change the air purifier filter at least every 6 months or as needed.
  • Vacuum and dust the bedroom regularly to reduce dust buildup that can be stirred up.

Keeping the litter box clean and taking steps to improve bedroom air quality can allow you and your cat to safely occupy the same sleeping space. However, removing the litter box from the bedroom altogether is the best way to eliminate any risks (source).

Litter Box Placement

It is not advised to keep the litter box in or near sleeping areas, as the smells and dust can disturb sleep and cause respiratory irritation. The litter box should be placed away from bedrooms and beds, ideally in another room with the door closed. Well-ventilated rooms work best, so aim to place the litter box in a room with a window that can be opened.

Bathrooms tend to be humid and lack airflow, which can exacerbate smells and dust from the litter box. It’s better to avoid placing the box in a bathroom if possible. The ideal location is a spare room, laundry room, or open basement area that allows odors to dissipate. Make sure the litter box location provides some privacy for the cat while still being easily accessible.

Types of Litter

When choosing a cat litter for your bedroom, look for ones designed to minimize dust and odors. Clumping litters are often less dusty than traditional clay litters. According to the The New York Times, clumping litters such as Arm & Hammer Super Scoop form tighter clumps that trap odors. Crystal litters made from silica gel beads or crystals are also highly effective at controlling odors, as they absorb urine rather than allowing it to sit at the bottom of the box. Avoid scented litters, as the strong fragrances can be overpowering in a small space. Look for litters that say “low dust”, “low tracking”, or “99% dust-free” on the label.

Cat Health and Hygiene

Keeping your cat healthy and maintaining good hygiene is essential for safe co-sleeping.

Regular vet visits allow detection and treatment of any potential health issues like parasites, infections, or skin conditions that could get passed between cat and human. Annual exams and vaccinations are recommended for cats.

Brushing your cat’s fur frequently removes loose hair and dirt, preventing it from spreading around your bed. Use a quality cat brush suited for your cat’s coat length. Brush daily or every other day if possible. This will keep their coat clean and reduce shedding.

Occasional baths may be needed for long-haired cats or if your cat gets into something dirty. Use a gentle cat shampoo and avoid over-bathing which can dry out skin. Bathing monthly or every other month is usually sufficient.

Trimming your cat’s nails regularly prevents damage and snagging on bedding. Have your vet show proper nail trimming technique. Clip nails every 2-3 weeks.

Following this hygiene routine promotes a healthy cat and clean shared sleeping environment.

Litter Box Hygiene

Proper litter box hygiene is crucial for containing odors and bacteria when keeping the litter box in a bedroom. Here are some tips:

Scoop all urine and stool daily. Leaving behind waste can quickly lead to strong odors. Scoop out clumps and any stuck-on waste each day (Source 1).

Dump all litter monthly. The litter can absorb odors, bacteria, and moisture over time. Fully replace the litter monthly to keep the box fresh and clean (Source 2).

Disinfect the litter box. When dumping used litter, wash the box with soap and water. Then disinfect it with a pet-safe disinfectant to kill germs. Allow it to fully dry before refilling (Source 1).

Use the right amount of litter. Fill the box with the recommended amount of litter according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Too little litter means more odor and waste sticking to the bottom. Too much litter can get kicked out onto the floor.

Air Quality Control

One of the main concerns with having a litter box in your bedroom is the effect it can have on indoor air quality. The smell from cat urine and feces can be quite strong and unpleasant. Moreover, the dust from cat litter itself can also impact air quality.

Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter can help remove dander, dust, and odors from the air. HEPA filters are designed to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns, including pet dander and litter dust. Some excellent HEPA air purifier options for litter box smell include the Levoit EverestAir and the Levoit Core 300S.

Placing bowls of baking soda or activated charcoal around the litter box can also help absorb odors. Be sure to change them regularly as they absorb smells over time. Opening windows frequently to let in fresh air can likewise help improve overall air quality.

Some houseplants like aloe vera, garden mum, and peace lily are effective at removing toxins from indoor air. Place a few around the litter box area to help purify the air.

With the right precautions, it is possible to maintain decent air quality even with a litter box in the bedroom. Proper litter box hygiene and odor control methods make co-sleeping feasible.

Alternative Litter Boxes

For some cat owners, a traditional litter box just doesn’t fit their needs or preferences. In that case, there are some great alternative litter box options to consider:

Self-cleaning boxes: These automatic litter boxes have a mechanism that periodically sifts and removes waste after your cat uses it, depositing the waste in a sealed compartment for easy disposal. Popular options include the Litter Robot 4 and the Petmate Clean Step Litter Box.

Automatic boxes: Automatic litter boxes have sensors that detect when a cat enters and leaves, then initiate a cleaning cycle. Some models, like the Omega Paw Roll’n Clean, use a rolling mechanism to sift and separate waste.

Disposable tray options: These litter boxes have disposable liners or trays that you replace on a regular schedule, minimizing cleaning. The Frisco Disposable Cat Litter Box is a popular disposable tray option.

Litter Box Furniture

One way to keep the litter box out of sight is to get furniture designed specifically to enclose it. There are many options for litter box cabinets and enclosures on the market today, ranging from simple boxes to full-on furniture pieces that look like cabinets, nightstands or other home decor. Opt for furniture made of solid wood like pine or oak veneer that will stand up to wear and tear from your cat [1]. Look for pieces with ventilation slots or grilles to allow airflow and reduce odor buildup inside.

Hide boxes in cabinetry built just for litter pans. Look for moisture-resistant materials and tight seals to corral mess. Options include a nightstand with a litter box cubby or a storage bench with a covered cat bathroom inside [2]. Some have handy drawers and shelves to stash supplies.

When to Reconsider

Having a litter box in the bedroom may not be suitable for everyone. Those with severe allergies, asthma, immune disorders or newborns/young infants should avoid sleeping in the same room as a litter box.

Cat litter dust contains silica particles that can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma. The American Lung Association warns asthmatics to avoid this exposure. Those with impaired immune systems are also at higher risk for lung inflammation and infection from inhaling particles in litter dust.

Newborns and infants have underdeveloped immune systems and lungs, making them vulnerable to airborne irritants. The Mayo Clinic cautions against exposing babies to cat litter boxes. Parents should keep litter boxes well away from nurseries or bassinets.

For those with extreme sensitivities, having a litter box in an adjoining bathroom or hallway is safer. Adding air purifiers can also help mitigate risks. In some cases, rehoming the cat may be necessary if health issues are severe. Consult a doctor for guidance on your individual health status.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/infant-health/faq-20058538

Scroll to Top