How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell Simply Explained
Admit it, you know what the biggest problem is to owning a cat. No, it’s not constantly missing lasagna as one cartoon would have you believe nor is it the sudden ability of mice and canaries to spontaneously pull anvils out of thin air. It’s kitty litter odor.
You know, that tell-tale ammonia like stench that tells you there’s a cat in the house. It’s the smell people associate with “that crazy cat lady”. Rest assured, this smell is not inevitable. In fact, it should be prevented as cats hate the smell of dirty litter boxes too. It can be prevented with a little planning and know-how.
Starting with the litter
Let’s start with the litter itself. Tempting as it may seem, don’t use the artificially scented litter. Your cat will hate it and start eliminating everywhere but the litter box. Remember, Kitty’s nose is fourteen times more sensitive than yours.
Clay based litter often helps, but should only be used with adult cats. Kittens, like human babies, have a tendency to put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t and eating clay can cause digestion problems in little kittens.
If you don’t mind the use of chemicals (to be honest, everything is chemicals) you might try crystal cat litter made with silica gel. You may also want to experiment with natural litter made with corn, pine, wood pellets or wheat. Results with this type of litter varies.
On to the box
Make sure there’s enough litter boxes for all of your felines and scoop twice a day. Once a week, change the entire litter and clean the box with hot water and mild soap. A vinegar and hot water solution also helps as does a bit of baking soda sprinkled on the bottom of the box. Replace the box itself once a year.
It may be tempting to put the box in a storage room or closet where it seems out of the way. Do not do this. That will only cause the smell to build up. Go for a spot that’s well ventilated yet quiet and private. Your own bathroom might work if you have a ventilation fan you can turn on every once in a while.
A room with at least one window is best. Once you’ve made up your mind, keep it there. A covered box may make Kitty feel like she’s trapped in a Port A Potty.
Did I say box? I meant boxes.
It’s best to have at least one box for each cat and to have at least one on every floor of your house. they also have to be fairly large so Kitty will feel comfortable moving around and trying to bury her leavings.
The box should be twice as long as an adult cat and wide as the cat is long. A kitten can do with an inch or so of the litter but an adult cat needs two or three inches. Don’t use plastic liners. They snag on Kitty’s claws and urine seeps in, defeating the purpose.
Are self cleaning automatic litter boxes worth it? They’re a bit on the small side and some cats are a bit skittish about using something with moving parts. But other than this they have proven to be very helpful in a cat parents life.
Tools to get the job done
Whether your scoop is a solid metal spoon or slotted plastic, it must be cleaned at least as often as the box, more if needed. Do not shake the scoop while using it. The litter that gets shaken off is ineffective at absorbing odor and should just be disposed of.
Place a textured mat underneath or near the box so kitty won’t track litter everywhere. If that happens anyway, vacuum regularly. If the sound of the vacuum scares Kitty, invest in a Roomba. Not only is it not loud enough to disturb Kitty, but she might like having a new riding toy.
What is Kitty eating?
Let’s get right at the very beginning of the matter. Kitty’s diet may be what’s affecting litter box odor. Once more, ignore the cartoons. Adult cats don’t need milk. It just gives them the runs. Give your cat high quality, easily digestible food.
Keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores. Their diet should be mostly if not entirely meat based. Fillers like grains and starches won’t do a thing for them. They’ll just stink up the box. If Kitty will eat dry food, go with that as long as it’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Make sure Kitty is staying hydrated as well. This will dilute odors in urine.
Room deodorizers and air purifiers advertise themselves as being just the thing every cat owner needs to eliminate odor control. For the most part, this can work but don’t forget who the litter box is really for.
You can put an air purifier in the room but not too close to the box itself. Remember that if Kitty hates the smell of a deodorizer, you’ve defeated the purpose of a litter box. Just because you like the smell of “Hawaiian Breeze” doesn’t mean your cat will. Good old fashioned baking soda or cornstarch can absorb odors without adding more.
Do Not Do This
OK, it’s tempting to teach Kitty to use the toilet. It looks cute on those viral videos and Kitty might figure out flushing on her own if she just can’t get enough of watching water swirl around in circles. It sounds like the easiest way to eliminate litter box odor.
The truth is, it’s a very bad idea. This is not in line with a cat’s natural instincts. It’s very uncomfortable for her and once she starts getting on in years it will just get more difficult. Don’t make something Kitty has to do every day be dangerous and painful.
- Digging Deeper: The Scoop on Cat Litter Stanford University
- KITTY LITTER Clay, silica, and plant-derived alternatives compete to keep your cat’s box clean Chemical & Engineering News ISSN 0009-2347
- Kitty Litter Preferences College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University
- Cats Diet & Nutrition on WebMD