How to Stop Litter Box Odor – Quick Hacks for Every Cat Owner

by Jayley
how to stop litter box odor

“I love cleaning stinky litter boxes!”, says no one ever.

Knowing how to stop litter box odor is a skill every cat owner should know. It’s as important as knowing how to change a light bulb or toast a loaf. Most cats are indoor beings, so they will eliminate inside a litter box. With fecal matter comes a stinky smell. Your biggest enemy here is the bad odor.

As a cat owner, I know the struggle of using everything just to remove the bad odor wafting from a litter box. The most common mistake I often notice is that cat owners only try to ‘mask’ the odor rather than ‘eliminate’ it. There’s a fine line between these two things.

The problem with stinky litter boxes

how to stop litter box odor

A smelly litter box is a dirty litter box. And when there’s dirt, there are also hordes of bacteria ready to infect you. But above all, the unpleasant whiff coming off the litter box can send your guests away.

Although cats aren’t as stinky as dogs, they still produce fecal matter. Unless you have a genius cat that can do potty on the bathroom and flush the toilet, it’s your job to dispose of their excretion.

If you let the litter box stink, the bad odor would soon attach to your cat. A not so huggable fact, right?

To be honest, it’s not that hard to deodorize a litter box. All you need is the right advice. Below, I listed my techniques in ensuring that your cat’s litter box won’t be a stink machine.

How to stop litter box odor

Scoop it daily

best cat litter for multiple cats

The first rule of litter boxes is this: scoop it out every day. Your cat won’t take its trash out, so might as well do it before the smell wafts all over your home. Remember that the litter box stinks because of the urine and feces inside. By taking it out, you’re also removing the odor, at least most of it.

Aside from saving your nose from the murderous scent, removing deposits from the litter box is also for your cat’s sake. Some kitties won’t go potty on a litter box unless you remove the ‘bomb’ first.

For some, an automatic scooping box might sound like a good idea. But here’s the catch: the mechanical sound may spook your cat. And since your cat is afraid of the litter box, there’s a high chance that you’ll deal with accidents all over the house.

Get the right type of litter

The type of litter you use plays a big role in odor control. Litter products nowadays have their own claims of odor-fighting properties.

Some litter brands have proprietary formulas that lock away smell once the fluids are absorbed into the material. You can also find litter with activated carbon, crystals, and other odor-neutralizing add-ons.

As for the type, clumping litters are ideal because it prevents the fluids from spreading all over the litter box and your home. Clumping litters are also easy to scoop since it’s already rock-solid.

Moreover, you can find litter products with synthetic crystals that offer better odor control. However, most of these are non-clumping and quite costly.

Remember, though, that the litter should be replaced twice a week or every month, depending on how busy the litter box gets.

Location matters a lot

The rule of thumb on the number of litter boxes is one per kitty plus another one. So if you have one cat, you should have two boxes at home.

Aside from the numbers, location matters to ensure that the odor will not be concentrated on one corner. Imagine having a single bathroom for a group of people. It will get stinky in no time.

Make sure that you place the litter boxes on accessible spots. If your cat stays on the ground floor, it’s a dumb decision to place the litter box on the third floor. Cats don’t have a lot of patience for these kinds of things. In the end, your pet may decide to skip the trek and just eliminate on your carpet. And when that happens, you’ll face a stinky odor that’s hard to remove.

Clean the litter box

how to stop litter box odor

If you really want to get rid of the awful litter box odor, you must go through the hassle of cleaning the box. It’s not just about scooping it daily. At some point, you’d need to empty the litter box and wash it thoroughly.

I personally recommend that you wash the litter box once a month. This will remove the smears and streaks that your cat made. While doing this, see to it that you’re wearing gloves and a mask. You’ll never want to get skin-to-skin with fecal pathogens.

Avoid using bleach and other abrasive detergents on the litter box. Cats have strong sniffers, and if they smell a strong odor, they may refuse to use the litter box. Just settle with mild soap and water.

After washing, fill the litter box with a fresh layer of litter.

Keep it ventilated

Odors thrive in a litter box because it gets trapped for long. One of the main mistakes of cat owners is tucking the litter box in a hidden corner with poor airflow. Sure, you want to give the kitty some privacy while it does its business, but you should also factor in the smell.

I know that it’s hard to find a ventilated spot if you’re living in a small apartment. However, keeping the airflow stagnant within the litter box just makes the scent worse. Take note that the smell will be awful if you use an open litter box.

The tricky part here is that cats love covered litter boxes. The key here is experimenting and seeing which works for you and your cat best.

If possible, place the litter box inside your bathroom while keeping the door open to let the air in. It would be wonderful if there’s an exhaust vent in there.

Consider adding baking soda

If the odor problem still persists to this point, you can make use of a kitchen staple. Grab some baking soda and sprinkle it at the bottom of the litter box before you add the new layer of litter. The baking soda is a great odor neutralizer, but make sure that your cat won’t ingest it.

Another trick that you can try is leaving an open box of baking soda beside the box. This will help in absorbing malodors from the litter box as your pet exits.

Overall, baking soda is safe since it’s a food-grade substance. Your cat can ingest a small amount and not get sick. Anyway, baking soda doesn’t replace proper cleaning of the box and replacing the litter regularly.

Change the litterbox yearly

Your cat’s litter box isn’t meant to last forever. The box would soon sustain damages due to clawing and regular wear and tear. The scratches and dents will also harbor odor, which is why the litter box doesn’t smell good even after you washed it.

When choosing a new litter box, consider a covered type. Although airflow can be tricky, covered boxes prevent the smell from wafting around the house. Most cats also prefer it since it has the privacy and seclusion that they need in such a vulnerable moment.

So what are you going to do with your used up litter box? If it’s still in good condition, you can donate it to a local shelter or a rescue facility. That way, no litter box ends up in the trash, plus you get to help a lonely kitty.

Use a litter box deodorizer

If the smell of your cat’s elimination is really strong, you can use a litter box deodorizer to help with the odor. This product is usually in a spray bottle. It contains odor-neutralizing chemicals that are safe for pets. You can also find sprinkle deodorizers that are in powder form.

However, the downside with litter deodorizer is that some cats may stop using the box. Cats hate strong odors, and since they have sensitive noses, you must look for a deodorizer that your pet will like.

Above all, ensure that the ingredients of the litter deodorizer are natural and safe for pets. Any harsh chemicals will expose your cat to the possibility of poisoning.

I personally recommend Nature’s Miracle Odor Destroyer. It’s made of natural ingredients and safe for cats. It won’t clump litter either, and it’s also unscented, so your cat won’t find it repulsive.

Place an absorbent pad underneath

If you’re using a non-clumping litter formula, you must place an absorbent pad beneath the litter tray. This will catch dripping fluids so it won’t get into your carpet or floor.

Just like the litter, absorbent pads should be replaced regularly. It will get full soon, and the smell will linger in the litterbox and spread in your home.

If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable litter pad, consider the ValuePad Plus Litter Pads. It comes in two 100-pad boxes so you can save more money. It’s made with a gel core pad that will absorb all fluids from your cat’s litter box. Don’t worry because these litter pads have a polypropylene backing that will prevent leaks.

Use a metal scoop with thin slits

One thing you should avoid is using a flimsy and thick plastic scoop in removing used litter. Also, avoid scoops with large slits as it will allow smaller crumbs to fall through, which will create more mess at home.

I recommend using a scoop with thin slits and durable construction. This will let you remove clumps easily without spreading the odor all over your home.

I personally use the DuraScoop because it’s made of aluminum, so it will not rust. Also, the slits are thin, and I can remove small clumps without the hassle. This is available in Jumbo size, perfect for busy and muli-cat litter boxes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does my cat’s urine smell too strong?

A: A strong odor from your cat’s urine can indicate an infection. However, you should also factor in the possibility that the litter box is already used up from multiple urination, thus the strong ammonia smell. Take note that the food your cat eats will also affect the smell of its urine.

Q: Will my cat’s urine smell go away on its own?

A: No, urine smell can stick to surfaces for years. Unless you clean it up and neutralize the odors, your home will smell like a filthy litter box. You have to scoop the fecal matter daily and replace the litter regularly.

Q: Can I get sick from inhaling the smell of my cat’s urine and fecal matter?

A: The pungent smell of your cat’s excretion can cause lung irritation. Those with respiratory problems may experience more serious symptoms. Regardless if you have a health problem or not, it’s always advisable to clean your cat’s litter to neutralize bad odors.

Q: Is it okay if I will flush cat litter on the toilet?

A: It’s never a good idea to flush cat litter into your toilet, especially if it’s a clumping formula. The litter can clog pipes and ruin the septic system of your home. Most of all, cat feces contain a parasite called Toxoplasma that is very dangerous to human health.

Q: How do I dispose of crystal cat litter?

A: Scoop the used crystal litter and seal it inside a double bag. Place the sealed bag into another bag to prevent any leaks and exposure to harmful bacteria.

Final words

Knowing how to stop litter box odor will save your nose from the repulsive smell of your cat’s excretion. It’s also a matter of hygiene at home because no guest would want to stay in a stinky house. With a few steps above, you can break free from the bad smell.

What do you think of my suggestions here? Share your thoughts below!

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