How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell Simply Explained

Get Rid of Cat Litter

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. Do you know how to get rid of cat litter smell?

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.

Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell

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.

How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell Simply Explained 1

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.

How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell Simply Explained 2

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.

How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell Simply Explained 1

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.

get rid of cat litter smell

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.

Air purifiers

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.

How to Get Rid of Cat Litter Smell?

Scoop the box daily or more. Replace the litter twice a week. Replace the litter box once a year. Try litter deodorizers. Find a brand of litter that smells best to you (and your cat). Keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area.

Why does my cat's litter box smell so bad?

Your cat visits her litter box about five times a day, so you'll be left with a strong ammonia smell if you let the dirty litter sit. While this is normal, extreme odors could indicate a urinary tract infection and warrant a veterinary visit. The smell of your cat's urine could be affected by what she's eating, too.

Can I add baking soda to cat litter?

Baking soda is non-toxic, and by mixing a little of it with the litter, you can help absorb pet urine odors. Note that scooping the litter, refreshing it, and washing the box are still necessary even if you sprinkle in baking soda.

Does an air purifier help with cat litter smell?

Yes, an air purifier will help with pet odor as long as it includes an Activated Carbon filter. This is the only type of filter that can absorb cat and dog smells. Other filter types like HEPA are good at removing pet dander but don't eliminate odors.

  • Updated September 7, 2023
Alexander Jones

Xander is a member in the 'Crazy Cat Dude' association since time immemorial, he has maintained his dedication as a passionate cat writer for numerous years especially during his retirement. Consistently, he actively engages in the rescue and rehoming of abandoned felines and kittens.