A foul-smelling litter box can make your home an uncomfortable space for you, your cat, and even friends and family.
Just like you invest time to clean your bathrooms to keep them smelling nice, your cat’s living space needs similar attention, if not more.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a cat’s olfactory senses are 14 times stronger than that of humans. That means your cat is more sensitive to smell and a litter box that doesn’t smell “that bad” to you might be very uncomfortable for your kitty.
That’s why investing time and energy to keep them clean and smelling good is invaluable to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Recommended: 7 Best Litter Boxes for Cats.
Ways to get rid of litter box smell
Below we highlight some of the most effective ways to get rid of litter box smell.
1. Scoop daily
The most effective way to get rid of litter box smell is to clean the boxes at least once a day. Cleaning the litter will not only get rid of the smell but also encourages the cats to pee and poo inside as they are clean and with minimum “distractions”.
In case you’re considering going for an automatic scooping box, you shouldn’t be quick to get rid of your old litter box. Some cats find the noise from the automatic scooping a bit disturbing and can make them opt to relieve themselves outside the box.
2. Wash thoroughly
If you scoop the litter box daily, you can stay 2-4 weeks before doing a thorough cleaning. When the time comes, empty the litter from the box and scrub them thoroughly using unscented soap and clean water.
Sometimes it’s not advisable to use bleach and other strong cleaners as the smell can be too much for your feline friend to handle. Make sure to dry the boxes and add fresh litter before letting your cat back in.
You should wear gloves to keep yourself safe while cleaning the box. The gloves will protect you from urine and fecal pathogens that cause infections in humans.
3. Choose the right litter
Due to the many litter options available to you, identifying the right litter for your cat be a challenge. You can take small pieces of each litter brand then add approximately ¼ cup of ammonia and let it sit away from your cats. After about 6 hours, sniff the ammonia-soaked litter and identify one that smells the least and that will be the ideal option for your cat.
It’s advisable to avoid scented options because cats do not like the artificial smell. Besides, scented litter doesn’t do much to manage litter box odors. You should also refresh the litter once a week by getting rid of old litter and replacing it with new ones.
4. Ventilate the litter box
Sometimes you can be tempted to tuck your cat’s litter boxes in small, confined spaces away from the day-to-day social interactions. While this might seem an option to get rid of the litter box smell, doing so will only concentrate odors in a single spot or room. Your cats will avoid such lonely, foul-smelling spots and would rather relieve themselves elsewhere.
The smell can reach unbearable levels due to poor ventilation and the fact that the boxes are kept in isolated places where you’re less likely to clean them every day might go unnoticed until it’s too late. That’s why it’s ideal to keep the boxes in “socially appropriate areas” with enough ventilation, such as living rooms.
5. Replace old litter boxes
The frequent cat clawing as they bury their wastes will leave the litter box scratched creating an ideal hiding spot for bacteria. The buildup of bacteria eventually leads to smelly boxes. It’s recommended to replace the boxes at least once a year.
When replacing old litter boxes, make sure you choose a litter box that’s big enough for your cat. Your cat should have enough room to comfortably move while using the box.
If your cat is old or suffering from arthritis, ensure the box has one of its sides low for your cat to easily get in and out.
6. Sprinkle baking soda
Another effective and safe way to get rid of the litter box smell is to sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the box before adding any fresh litter. You should do this at least once a week and it acts as a deodorizer against urine and poop odors.
Keep in mind that you still need to scoop the litter, refresh it once a week, and regularly clean the box to prevent it from smelling bad. Just make sure you do not use any scented baking soda as this could worsen the situation.
7. Use charcoal filters
Another effective way to get rid of litter box smell is to use charcoal filters. Just like baking soda, it is a cheap, natural, and non-toxic odor removal alternative for pet owners. Charcoal filters made from bamboo last longer and are more effective than other filters.
8. Be quick to clean cat messes
Although we have highlighted that daily scooping of the litter box is essential, you should be quick to clean any messes a cat leaves inside or just outside the box. This will not only prevent odors from developing but will also encourage your cat can keep using the litter box because it is clean and smells good.
Consider using an effective cleaner such as Unique Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator to eliminate the smell and prevent odors from developing.
9. Don’t use odor-masking sprays
You might be tempted to mask the foul smell of a litter box with scented air fresheners. While they make the room smell pleasant to humans, some can be uncomfortable and dangerous to cats. Potpourri oil, for instance, can burn a cat’s skin making it more susceptible to bacterial skin infections.
FAQs About Cat Litter Box Smell
Let’s have a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about cat litter box smell and ways to get rid of it.
1. Why does my cat’s litter box smell so bad?
The main cause of cat litter box smell is the bacterial composition of urea. The bacteria will decompose the urea giving off an ammonia-like odor characteristic of stale old urine. Using baking soda, charcoal filters, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide helps get rid of the foul smell.
2. Can I add baking soda to cat litter box?
You can add baking soda to a cat litter box. It’s a safe, non-toxic, effective deodorizer that absorbs urine and poop odor. You can sprinkle the baking soda on the bottom of the box or a small amount on the litter at least once a week or when you refresh the box’s litter.
3. How to get rid of ammonia smell from litter box
The most effective way to neutralize the smell of ammonia in your cat’s litter box is to use baking soda, charcoal filters, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that these options get rid of the foul smell in litter box only, but you can use air fresheners to keep your home smelling great.
If you’re looking for tips on litter box training, this video guide will help you. Video credits: Pet Lady.
As we have highlighted, there are multiple ways you can get rid of litter box smell safely. However, you should consult your local veterinarian if you notice your cat keeps avoiding its litter box even after doing all these things. There could be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.