Litter boxes and children don't mix, so putting one in a kid's bedroom is not a good idea. It jeopardizes the child's health and may prompt your kitty to take care of business outside the box. After all, she prefers some privacy when using the bathroom, just like you do.
Healthy adults rarely develop health problems from handling dirty cat litter, but children and pregnant women are much more vulnerable. Toxoplasmosis can make kids very sick and has a high chance of complicating pregnancy, increasing the chances of a miscarriage or birth defect. The organism responsible spreads into the air when you change or scoop the litter and can survive on solid surfaces for days. Cats can also excrete the eggs of digestive parasites, like roundworms, which can infest humans. If you're in good health, simply washing your hands and changing clothes should be enough to fend off litter box germs. However, kids, pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems should avoid litter boxes altogether.
Proper Box Placement
Don't keep the litter box in a bedroom if possible. Place it in an adult's room if you have no other choice. Preferably, put the box in a quiet location like a closet or bathroom. The basement is also a good choice as long as there's plenty of space between it and loud appliances, like a washing machine. The noise and vibration of machinery may be enough to cause your cat to avoid the box altogether, according to Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. It's a good idea to have a box on every floor of your home and at least as many boxes as you have cats. Don't keep your kitty's litter box near her food and water dishes, because she may refuse to use the bathroom around the smell of food.
Babies and toddlers see the tub of cat litter as a miniature sandbox, so don't be surprised if a young child tries to clamber in to play with the poop. Keep the box in a room that young kids can't get to. This is for your cat's sake, too, because she surely won't appreciate being interrupted by a curious kid when she's trying to relieve herself. If you think a child has gotten in the litter box, change his clothes and give him a bath. Keep your eye out for signs of sickness and take him to the doctor right away if he appears ill.
Litter Maintenance and Hygiene
Keeping the litter box clean is the best way to prevent it from becoming a haven for germs. Scooping it once a day practically negates the risk of toxoplasmosis, because the protozoa doesn't activate for at least 24 hours after being expelled. Your kitty will surely be thankful for a clean litter box, too. Dirty litter is one of the most common reasons that cats start to eliminate outside the box. Change the litter as often as necessary depending on the substrate. A box of clay litter lasts for a week or two, but paper-based products may not take long to soil. Take the box outside before dumping it into a strong plastic bag. Clean out the box with warm water and soap before putting fresh litter in.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images