Can Dirty Cat Litter Make a Human Sick?

Cats are a joy to have in any household.

They’re tiny killing machines that act angry for not being able to kill you, but they like the attention they get when you play with them.

They’re easy to feed and function better when they have more cats to play with them.

It’s all a good time until you have to clean out the kitty litter, and at this point I can’t help asking myself – Can this dirty cat litter make me sick?

I have memories from middle school of cleaning out kitty litter boxes and hearing my siblings and mom laugh at me because of the gagging noises I made.

When I brought my cat home from China, I was more than happy to pass the torch to my fiance or one of his kids.

When we moved houses, my fiance and I didn’t hesitate to make his daughter in charge of cleaning the kitty litter for our three cats.

It’s a stinky job, but it needs to happen!

How often should I clean the cat litter to avoid getting sick?

I’ve heard many debates about how often to clean the litter box. Some would say once a week, while others said every day.

However, if you don’t clean your litter box often, you could risk getting yourself or your family sick. The more often you clean the litter box, the more likely your home will stay healthy, and fresh smelling!

Who should not clean the litter box?

When you pick out your person to clean out the litter box, most people would have no problem doing it.

However, there are two types of people that should never clean out a littler box, they are Pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system.

For both these types of people, changing the cat littler would be a little too dangerous.

Cleaning the cat litter puts these people at high risk for Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that comes from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. The symptoms of this disease are flu-like.

For someone with a healthy immune system, they could fight it off, and they could have lifelong immunity to the parasite. For someone with a weakened immune system, they could have more complications.

If a pregnant woman cleans out the litter box, she could risk not only making herself sick but transferring the disease to her unborn child.

Complications from toxoplasmosis could include the baby being stillborn or a miscarriage. It could also cause the baby to be born with an enlarged spleen or liver. These babies could be subject to seizures, jaundice, or severe eye infections at birth.

So it is best to avoid this job if possible!

If you can’t get anyone else to clean the litter box out for you, don’t worry. If you have rubber gloves and a mask, that’ll work as well as having someone else cleaning the litter box for you.

If you keep track of how often you wash your hands after coming in contact with a cat or cleaning out the litter box, you’ll lower your chances of catching toxoplasmosis.

My immune system is healthy, and I’m not pregnant. Can I still get sick?

Even a person with a healthy immune system and not pregnant should take some care in cleaning the litter box. You may not be as likely to suffer from Toxoplasmosis, but other complications could come from a dirty litter box.

Can ammonia build up in a cat litter box make me sick?

The most common health risk from a dirty litter box is exposure to ammonia. Cat urine and feces produce ammonia.

When a litter box is left dirty for too long, the ammonia could build up, potentially harming everyone exposed to it.

There could be little complications, like headaches. But there could be more severe issues, such as respiratory problems and pneumonia.

For children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems, too much exposure to ammonia could end up in a trip to the hospital.

Can I get a bacterial disease from a cat litter box?

Cat-Scratch Fever comes from bacteria that create a virus.

While most people who get cat-scratch fever get it from cats scratching and biting them, you can get it from a dirty litter box too.

The bacteria that causes cat-scratch fever sits in feces and urine. If you come in contact with the contaminated cat poo and don’t wash your hands afterward, you could end up with the disease for a long time.

The condition could take up to seven weeks to show up. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, but they last a long time.

Can I get salmonella infection from a cat litter box?

Salmonella is another disease you could catch if you let the litter box stay dirty for a long time.

Usually, this disease is found in under-cooked chicken and eggs, but it can be in cat poop too.

Like with cat-scratch fever, if you don’t wash your hands after cleaning out the litter box, you could be spending the next few days with diarrhea, a fever, and severe stomach pain.

If you get this infection, you won’t be going to work for a while that’s for sure!

What other bugs or parasites can live in a cat litter box?

Toxoplasmosis isn’t the only parasite-born disease a dirty litter box can bring.

A dirty litter box could be host to roundworm or tapeworm eggs if not cleaned out quickly.

If you live in a multiple-cat household, this could spread to the other cats.

If you have a dog who likes to dig in the litter box, he could be subject to these parasites too.

Hookworms and ringworms are other parasites that could spread throughout the household if a littler box is left dirty for too long.

Tips for consistent cleaning of your cat litter box.

To make sure your cat’s litter box remains clean, I would suggest doing these things.

Clean the litter box every day: A few minutes of gagging is better than spending a few days vomiting from salmonella.

Don’t use the litter box to teach kids responsibility. Kids are lazy. If you leave it up to the kids, they won’t clean it as often as you want them to. If you’re going to entrust them with this responsibility, be prepared to argue every day.

A kid is more susceptible to some of the diseases than you are. So be selective about who you pick to clean the litter box.


To keep your cat and your family happy and healthy, a clean litter box is one way to make sure that happens. With a clean litter box, your cat will be running around the house for a long time.