So, you need to get rid of some gnats in your cat’s litter box.
Are you tired of seeing tiny flies every time you scoop the litter?
Do tiny white worms crawling in the litter box freak you out?
Are you worried about fungus gnats cross-contaminating your food?
We’ll talk about how to manage, control, and eliminate gnats from the litter. Permanently.
In this article, you’ll read about:
- Why your cat’s litter box is attracting gnats
- Identifying the type of pest (gnat, silverfish, beetle, flea, drain fly, etc.)
- Whether or not gnats harm your cat
- Proven natural remedies to get rid of gnats in the litter box
- How to keep pests out of the cat litter
- How to control other pests
- And more
By the end of this page, you should have everything you need to know to control gnats (and a whole lot more) so your cat can do their business in peace.
Sound good? Let’s keep those gnats outside!
Do flies lay eggs in cat litter?
Yes, they do.
Flies are attracted to cat litter just like any other rotting fruit or vegetable they so desire. Flies, gnats, roaches, and every other pest that feeds on waste or organic detritus can be a problem for litter boxes.
If the litter box isn’t cleaned daily and you live in a warm and humid area, this is just asking for a pest infestation.
Always clean the litter box daily, place it in a cool area that’s well ventilated, and keep humidity low.
If a housefly finds its way into the litter box, you’ll see maggots (those tiny white worms/grubs) in a matter of days.
Gnats in the litter box are also common, especially if you have soil or plants nearby. They can enter your home through the patio or window screenings because of their tiny size.
So gnats that are outside of your home can easily come into your house just like that. The screen on your patio door or window does nothing unless you have a very fine mesh.
Can gnats live on cats?
Gnats can crawl around on your cat’s fur and you may notice scratching or itching.
Although gnats don’t bite or sting cats, they can cause some kind of discomfort. If your cat does his business in the litter box and you notice scratching afterward, some gnats may have grabbed onto your cat’s fur.
Why are there gnats in my cat litter box?
Gnats are attracted to the feces in your cat’s litter box.
They feed off detritus and organic matter, and your cat’s poop and urine offer different nutrients for them to consume like happy hour at a buffet. If your litter box is in a humid area, such as the bathroom, kitchen, or nearby a drain or sink, this just brings more gnats to the area.
Lastly, if temperatures are warm, generally you’ll see more gnat activity.
There may be other attractants in the area that are also bringing gnats to the litter box, such as fruits, veggies, soil, or even your decorative indoor plants.
Do gnats come from poop?
Yes, gnats can stem from feces and droppings.
Some species favor this environment and will hide in it while they consume the waste material.
They’ll feed on it during their larvae phase until they turn into adults, so it’ll appear as if the gnats “came out” of the feces.
Fungus gnats and fruit flies are both common in cat litter.
But other than the cat poop, they could also be attracted to the urine or even the litter used in the litter box. If the litter contains organic matter like vegetables, corn, or grass clippings, this can be an attractant to gnats.
Can worms live in cat litter?
Yes, especially maggots from the common housefly.
If you don’t keep the litter bin maintained and constantly clean it on a routine schedule, you’ll see maggots start squirming about as you turn the cat litter.
You may end up bringing in a whole host of larvae, as worms are generally the larvae form of beetles, moths, flies, and more. Tiny worms hiding and eating your cat’s feces shouldn’t be a surprise for dirty conditions.
If this is you, start by getting on a schedule for cleaning.
Empty, disinfect, and clean the litter box DAILY. Then add natural repellents to the edges of it to keep bugs away.
You can use a variety of home remedies to keep your litter box pest-free such as essential oils, vinegar, dish soap, and even line the edges with sticky tape. Read below for more details.
Can I get sick from my cat’s litter box?
This is a loaded question because it depends on your hygiene habits.
If you’re a clean person and wash your hands with warm water and soap for an appropriate amount of time after handling anything contained, probably not.
But if your hygiene habits aren’t up to par, there’s a very good possibility that you can take in some kind of parasite, worm, or diseases from your cat’s dirty litter box.
Other factors also are at stake:
- How clean the litter box is
- Your overall hygiene habits
- If there are vectors present in the litter
- The environment of the bacteria, parasites, and vectors
Even something as simple as how often you check the litter for parasites and other visible vectors matters.
If you never pay attention to the pests hiding in your cat’s litter, you may never notice them and easily touch your face, hair, or clothing and transfer the organism which will then possibly make you sick.
Don’t ever skimp on the cleaning to keep yourself minimized from bacteria.
Can fleas live in cat litter?
Fleas can thrive in the litter box because it provides a perfect environment for fly eggs to incubate and hatch.
Even after the larvae emerge (those tiny maggots), they’ll remain and hide in the litter box and continue to feed on the waste excrement from your cat until they pupate.
Eventually, they’ll turn into an adult fly and leave the litter box (or just buzz around it). This continues their annoying presence and will continue to bug you and your cat.
The fleas can eventually get into your cat’s fur and skin. This is when the biting, scratching, and headaches take place.
They have everything they need in the litter- a place to hide, a steady supply of cat poop to eat, and humidity from the cat urine. Why go anywhere else?
Can a cat get worms from a dirty litter box?
A dirty litter box is a nesting site for all sorts of diseases, worms, and parasites.
If a vector transmits a parasite into the litter box, all it takes is for your cat to walk over it and make contact with it to start the parasitic process.
Unkempt litter bins are just terrible breeding grounds for worms, fleas, beetles, and more than you’ll want to deal with. Always keep it clean.
Set up DIY traps and use natural repellents. Check regularly for pest problems. And act accordingly.
Can gnats hurt cats?
Gnats are not parasitic and don’t have the proper mouthpieces to bite or harm your cat.
They can get stuck in the fur, but that’ll only cause some minor scratching.
But that doesn’t mean you should just be “OK” with gnats in the litter box. They can be a vector of disease especially if they’ve made contact with your cat’s feces or urine and then fly and land on household surfaces.
Although the transmission of diseases from gnats isn’t common, those who are on the cleaner side may be worried.
Note that there ARE some gnats that can bite, spread disease, and carry parasites.
But for most of the urban US, these gnats don’t usually end up your cat’s litter.
For those that deal with these more invasive species because you’re out somewhere remote or rural (or you just took your cat on a hike through the wilderness), it’s possible to bring home a disease-carrying vector.
Does cat urine attract flies?
Cat urine reeks because of the strong ammonia concentration found in the waste.
Ammonia’s odor is an attraction to flies (and many other pests) and this lures them to your cat’s waste. If you have your litter box placed somewhere humid or has other organic waste (bathroom, shower, kitchen, near drains or trash cans, etc.) then this is a prime attractant for fleas.
You can use essential oils, fly traps, and sticky tape for starters.
But nothing beats regularly cleaning the litter and turning it over.
Plus, you can consider relocating the entire bin to somewhere less prone to pests problems.
What bugs are attracted to cat litter?
Yes, there are bugs that are attracted to cat litter.
Cat litter brings a bunch of different insects to your home. The multitude of pests that feed on feces is countless.
However, there are a few that are especially prominent in homes like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and of course, gnats.
Don’t take any risks and test the waters. Prevent pest problems by being proactive.
The last thing you’ll need is to dig out the litter to see a layer of grubs hiding under the surface layer.
How do I get rid of gnats in my cats litter box?
Here are some DIY remedies you can do at home to get rid of the gnats in the litter box.
Use natural or organic methods where possible and avoid dangerous or toxic poisons, especially since you have a live feline roaming around. Try a few of them out and see what works.
There’s no one best way to get rid of gnats- you need to use a combination of them.
Clean the litter box
The most obvious way to keep a gnat-free litter box is to keep it clean. Maintain it.
Don’t let the cat poop build up and attract more gnats (and other pests, like palmettos) to it.
Once a few gnats have established shelter, it only takes a few days for them to breed and start a new generation. You’ll want to do thorough, complete, cleanings of the litter box on a DAILY basis.
Not every other day. Not every week. DAILY.
This is important because you want to disturb the lifecycle and throw out any eggs that the gnats may have deposited to the litter or sides of the litter box.
Use fewer scoops of cat litter than usual because you don’t want to waste too much of it during this time. Try halving the amount and see if it still deodorizes the litter. You can adjust as needed.
Clean it out as soon as you can. Gnats are attracted to the cat urine and excess humidity it creates in the litter.
So disposing of it and keeping it dry will help repel gnats and any other moisture-seeking bugs.
Vinegar cleans everything. It’s truly an amazing product.
And using it to kill and repel gnats is just another possibility.
Use vinegar to clean the litter box and apply a layer of it before you toss in the new litter. You can dilute vinegar in equal parts water and spray the litter bin with it when you clean it out.
The layer of vinegar at the bottom and sides can be a natural deterrent and helps keep gnats away from the perimeter of the litter box.
Make your own gnat killer
Similar to using vinegar as a repellent, you can also use it to kill gnats. This mixture will disinfect and kill any residue bacteria as well.
If you spray gnats with vinegar, it can make an effective gnat killer because of the high acidity.
All you need is equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Add in a few drops of dish soap and swirl gently until it starts foaming on the surface of the mixture.
When you see gnats flying around on the litter, spray them and they should drown from the high surface tension of the dish detergent.
You can also use this to clean the litter box. I find this recipe to clean quicker because of the additional dish soap compared to just using pure vinegar.
Don’t let the litter stay damp
Keep them away by keeping it dry. The collection and buildup of wet litter will eventually create a breeding ground for fleas, gnats, and even moths.
Some flea eggs will hatch in just one day, which propagates their lifecycle. With such an abundance of fleas, you’ll have a flea problem in no time.
Be sure to empty it (or at least the damp part) into a secure plastic bag or container whenever it gets wet. Always rinse with dish soap and water after each thorough cleaning.
Build a gnat trap with vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used to create a gnat trap.
You can use pure vinegar, but mixing it with bait to lure the gnats is a lot more effective (and worth your time).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- A small bowl or container
How to make it:
- Add the water and apple cider vinegar together in a small bowl
- Add the dish soap
- Gently stir until it starts to bubble
How to use it:
Place the bowl nearby your cat’s litter box.
The gnats are attracted to the apple cider vinegar and will land on the bowl, then drop down to the liquid to drink it. The dish soap has a very high surface tension so it traps them under the liquid, preventing them from flying back out.
If you notice that the gnats land in the mixture but fly back out, add more dish soap.
And of course, don’t let your cat drink the mixture. Place it somewhere secure.
Replace the mixture when it’s full of dead bugs as necessary.
The ACV loses the scent over time and will need to be replaced with a new mixture.
You can also make a paper funnel by rolling up a sheet of paper and shoving it into a small bottle filled with vinegar and dish soap with water as the mixture base.
The gnats and fleas fly into the trap and drown in the soap.
Make a wine or beer trap
Similar to the gnat trap with vinegar, you can also use wine or beer.
Gnats are annoying pests, but they can easily be lured right into a trap using any fermented drinks.
Mix wine or beer with a few drops of dish soap and equal parts water in a small container and place it near your kitten’s litter box. This will help lure the gnat away from the bin and right into the trap.
Don’t depend on JUST these traps to get rid of the gnat problem. You need to clean the litter WHILE having traps set up if you want to eradicate them permanently.
Seal up entryways
The gnats had to come from somewhere, right?
They likely flew into your home from a crack or crevice or some other opening. Evaluate your home and check for common areas where they can be coming in.
Here are some common places to check for gnat activity:
- Replace window screens that are torn or damaged
- Seal up door gaps
- Caulk or replace damaged weatherstripping
- Check vents and your HVAC system
- Keep your doors and windows shut
- Clean and wash any fruits or veggies to prevent vinegar flies
- Check your cat or dog for signs of gnats
- Evaluate indoor plants for gnat activity
- Check your drains, sinks, and other humid areas for flies or gnats
- Inspect your plumbing for any dripping water or puddles
- Check any soil nearby for gnats (outdoor yard and potted plants inside your house)
- Keep your yard clean and tidy
- Get rid of or store wood properly
- Keep your patio furnishings clean
Gnats could be entering your property from the outside OR they can be breeding somewhere within your home.
You need to check both to see where they’re coming from.
This is especially critical if you constantly catch gnats buzzing around your cat’s litter box even after you’ve done a thorough cleaning.
Make a DIY gnat trap with saran wrap
You can build a trap using saran wrap and some bait.
This one’s a little more effective at keeping gnats contained. Get some liquor or apple cider vinegar and mix it with equal parts water.
Pour the mixture into a mason jar and cover the top with a layer of cling film. Poke some holes in it and secure it around the neck of the jar with a rubber band. Then place the trap next to your litter box where the pets can’t reach it.
Also, be wary of children and other people.
The gnats are attracted to the scent of the ACV and fly through the holes into the jar, but then they can’t get back out. You can fill it up with dish soap and water to kill them before you type it out.
You can reuse the container with a good wash to prevent bacterial buildup.
Use a candle trap
Candles can be made into a deadly trap for gnats.
The way it works is that you use a live flame from a candle and place it into a mason jar filled with a moat of water.
So the candle sits above the water level and burns at the bottom of the jar. The gnats will fly to the candle, right into the jar. The heat from the candle kills the gnats.
Some people add dish soap to the water to make it harder for them to escape. You should ONLY do this if you have a 100% controlled environment.
As with any flame, you need to be careful about pets and people knocking it over.
Always supervise the trap and NEVER leave it unattended.
Have the means to handle a fire if necessary. This is best used for outside litter boxes that are contained.
Use less litter
Try reducing the litter you use by half.
This will provide less substrate for the gnats to live in and may help make getting rid of them easier.
You can adjust the amount of litter accordingly depending on your cat’s regimen. If you feed a lot of food or your cat drinks a lot of water, you’ll need more litter.
But if not, then reduce the amount you use. This will save you money, not to mention reduce the number of pests you need to deal with.
It’ll also help stop the buildup of organic matter that they eat.
Try sticky tape
Sticky tape can be purchased from any hardware store. Just tape it around areas where you commonly see the gnats. You can make a layer of it on the outside and inside of the litter bin.
When gnats fly or walk on the tape, they get stuck.
Replace as necessary and use it as directed by the product label. The nice thing about sticky tape is that one roll lasts a long time.
Get a double-sided, non-damaging tape and use it around the home. You can stick it around window sills, doors, walls, and even the ceiling.
Some people stick one end on the ceiling and let the strand hang down. Gnats will fly into the tape and get stuck. They’re also easy to replace and completely passive once you set them up!
As long as they’re securely and safely placed, you don’t need to do anything else.
What I like best about sticky tape is that you can use the strips as a gauge to see how you’re doing with the gnat elimination.
Over time, you should see FEWER gnats stuck to the adhesive strips. If you see this, you know whatever you’re doing is working.
And if you see the opposite, you should try a different home remedy to rid the gnats from your cat’s litter bin.
Spray with alcohol
You can kill gnats upon contact with rubbing alcohol.
If you want a quick and clean kill without any harmful chemical residues lingering afterward, use rubbing alcohol.
Even 70% should be enough (and you can dilute it with water to get more out of it).
Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and leaves no residue, but it can damage some paints, finishes, and surfaces. So don’t go spraying the stuff everywhere.
You can use it to clean the litter box or as a gnat killer to take care of the ones hovering around your house.
Rubbing alcohol can also be a very effective gnat and fly killer. Just a few spritzes of it into the air kill the flying pests.
Keep humidity down
Keeping the humidity low in the room where you keep the litter box can help.
Gnats and flies are both attracted to damp environments so they can thrive. Consider relocating the litter box toa dry environment with plenty of light.
Or lower the humidity in the room where you keep the bin:
- Dry up any water spills ASAP
- Open windows to allow airflow
- Use a box fan to circulate the air
- Use a dehumidifier if you can’t relocate the litter bin
- Avoid placing the bin in areas like your bathroom or kitchen
Although it makes sense to you (the bathroom is where the business is done), it’s just harboring pests.
Relocate the litter box
When you’re out of ideas, put the litter bin somewhere else.
Perhaps in a room that has plenty of light and no humidity.
Of course, your cat’s gonna have to get used to it.
But it may stop the gnat problem and rule out the possibility of them hiding in your plants or coming in from a specific area in your home. If you suddenly see no more gnats around the cat litter, this could mean a room-specific infestation.
See if you can find out where they’re coming from and eliminate, block, or set up traps/repellents in that area to get rid of them permanently.
Hire a professional
Consider hiring a licensed pest exterminator if you really can’t get rid of the gnats.
They can usually do a free home inspection and assess the problem. They may be able to toss you some advice as to where the gnats are coming from and if home remedies can control them.
Do some research and read some reviews to see people have to say about a particular company before hiring them.
Some also have alternative “natural” chemicals, which you should ask about.
After all, you don’t want dangerous residues from pesticides lingering around your home, garden, or CAT, right? Don’t rush things and take your time.
How to keep gnats away from the litter box
There are few things you can do to keep bugs away from your litter box. Start with a combo of different remedies and assess from there.
Stop the ones that aren’t working and try new ones. Here are a few techniques you try:
- Line the perimeter of the litter box with sticky tape to catch crawling and flying bugs
- Regularly clean the litter box daily
- Remove damp litter ASAP
- Use half the amount of litter
- Put plants around the litter bin that repel bugs (marigold, lavender, rosemary, basil, onion, garlic, etc.)
- Use a bug zapper
- Decrease the moisture content in the air
- Place the litter box away from windows and doors
- Ensure there’s no fruits or vegetables near the litter
- Spray vinegar and dish soap when cleaning the bin
With these tips, you can keep gnats and other pests away from the litter box.
Assuming the pest problem isn’t rampant with your cat, there shouldn’t be too much difficulty to keep it pest-free.
Also, make sure your CAT isn’t bringing in pests from the outdoors or has a flea problem.
Other bugs commonly found in litter boxes
There are also some other bugs that are commonly found in litter boxes other than gnats.
Because the environment created by the waste and wetness of the litter, this attracts all sorts of nasty bugs that’ll glady make it their own home.
You may even be dealing with some other insect entirely rather than gnats.
Perhaps you’re about to find out now.
So let’s dive in and see some quick tips on handling these other annoying pests- just in case you have more than one type of bug eating up the cat litter.
Weevils in cat litter
Weevils (grain and rice weevils) are common in litter boxes, especially if the litter uses some kind of corn, rice, wheat, or grain materials.
These weevils feed on the grain and will breed in it.
They don’t require any special environment so they’re prone to reproduce like crazy right in the box- especially if it’s not clean. The dampness from your cat’s waste will only help.
Grain weevils look like tiny white worms as larvae and will pupate into a small beetle.
So if you see worms or beetles in the litter, it could very well just be a single bug. Grain weevils. You can check out this guide on getting rid of them.
You may also want to check your dry goods such as flour, wheat, cereal, oats, etc.
The weevils may have come from your kitchen pantry, or they may go from your litter box to your kitchen drawers, so be wary.
Weevils will always require a complete teardown of your pantry and through cleaning. They’re also very good at hiding so you’ll need to be complete and not leave any stone unturned.
Silverfish in cat litter
Silverfish are another pest you may see in your cat’s litter box.
These quick and nimble buggers will dig into the litter and consume detritus and debris. They’re attracted to the excess moisture from your cat’s waste, so they have everything they need to live in harmony.
Thankfully, silverfish are relatively easy to control.
Keep the litter box dry and clean. They should go away on their own. Just be sure you’re actually dealing with silverfish and not something similar to them, like booklice.
Drain flies in cat litter
Drain flies may show up in areas that are damp and have plenty of bacteria and fungus for them to eat.
As the name states, they’re commonly found in drains where sludge buildup allows for them to have plenty of particles to eat.
Dirty or unclean litter bins may also create the same environment for drain flies, such as debris and buildup in the corners or bottom of your bin.
Keep it clean and always use a cleaner like vinegar to remove any sludge. You can also soak the entire bin in a mixture of baking soda and water once a month to fully remove any buildup.
Cat litter mites
Mites are also a common pest.
There are many different types of mites, and they’re also often confused with similar bugs because of their small size. Mites don’t have wings and will usually be found on surfaces that are inverse (opposite) of their color.
For example, spider mites can be easily seen on white surfaces.
So you can grab some litter and pour it on a piece of paper. Then take out your phone camera and zoom in. See if you can spot any small tiny mites moving around.
You also may find carpet beetles, tiny spiders, or fleas during the process since they all favor the same environments. Mites can be controlled with regular cleaning and disinfecting.
Do you see the pattern yet?
Keep your bin clean and you can avoid a ton of headache later on.
Here are some resources and references you may find useful:
Did you get rid of the gnats in your cat’s litter box?
You now have a solid foundation to get you started on eradicating fungus gnats, flies, silverfish, beetles, and even mites found in your litter bin.
Oliver will appreciate it. It’ll take some patience, persistence, and you’ll probably have to try a few different remedies out until you find one that works.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below. Or if you’ve dealt with bugs in the litterbox before, share some tips for others.
If you found this article helpful, please consider telling a friend who may get some use out of it (a fellow cat owner online?).
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.