How To Get Rid Cat Litter Smell? Eliminate Litter Box Odor

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how to keep cat litter smell down

Knowing how to get rid of cat litter smell is one of the very first things a cat parent needs to learn. Indeed, having to deal with the litter box odor is a pretty tough job. It can be embarrassing even especially when you have to invite friends over to your house or apartment and that undesirable smell suddenly comes out through a breeze.

So, how can you prevent that and get rid of your cat’s litter box odor?

In this article, I’ll be giving you tips and techniques on removing the nasty smells that come out of cat litter, poop, pee, and the germs that linger around. Read on!

How To Prevent Cat Litter Box Odor?

The first step towards getting rid of the smell of your cat’s litter box is to prevent it, in the first place. And, speaking of prevention, here’s how to keep your house from smelling like cat.

1. Keep a litter box clean

Litter box maintenance is itself the most important factor in dealing with poop and pee odors. To keep the litter box clean, be sure to do the following.

Scoop the box daily or more frequently


The longer the poop and pee stay in the box, the more likely they would emit pungent smells that can easily spread throughout the house.

To avoid this dilemma, make sure to maintain the habit of scooping the box daily. To obtain even better results, scoop a few times more often throughout the day.

In my case, for instance, I prefer to check the box in the morning after I wake up and in the afternoon when I come home from work. Then I would scoop the solids along with the soiled litter when I see them there.

Replace the litter twice a week

Some cat litter products boast of lasting longer and advise to replace the litter only after four weeks. There were times when I dared to follow that advice for the sake of testing the litter. The litter products held up so far but the faint stinks slowly circulating got me too worried. Normally, I tend to stick to my proven maintenance habits.

The fact is, I see to it that the entire litter box contents are replaced twice a week. I do it on the weekdays and the weekends. Now, this might sound wasteful, but I’ve come to realize I’d better prioritize hygiene for the sake of my cat’s health and mine, as well as for the freshness of the air moving around my home.

I bet you’d want to try that out as well. And if you’d like to copy my practice, note that you should wash the litter box first before pouring a fresh batch of litter. Use warm water and soap, and be sure to avoid ammonia-based cleaners as they can only make the smell worse.

2. Wash the litter box thoroughly

I know I’ve mentioned this in passing just a while ago, but I’d like to emphasize a few things more about washing litter boxes thoroughly.

Step 1: Scrub thoroughly


Wear gloves and use a brush to scrub the litter box scrupulously. Never miss a corner as some litter might have been stuck in there.

Step 2: Use warm water and soap


I’ve told you about this above. Just don’t forget about the fact that warm water can make it easier (than cold water) to soften the residues. On the other hand, using soap kills bacteria.

Step 3: Avoid bleach and harsh chemicals


These cleaners may be able to fully get rid of pathogens, but they can leave strong smells that your cat wouldn’t like.

Step 4: Dry the litter box

Be sure to let the litter box dry completely. When you place it under the sun, the process of drying can help in killing even more germs.

3. Replace the litter box once in a while

cat-items-donate-animal-shelterLitter boxes get worn out because of scratching. And these scratches can be a haven for bacteria to thrive and grow, giving them the chance to emit their undesirable smells. The best solution is to regularly replace the litter box once a year.

Replace the litter box once a year

Don’t mind the yearly expense; anyway, it’s for the sake of your home’s freshness as well as your cat’s health. Choose a new box that’s spacious enough and has at least one side that’s low enough for your cat to enter in and exit from.

Donate your used litter box to a shelter

Those working in cat shelters or rescue groups may know better how to make use of the used litter box. Freely donate that old box instead of just disposing of it.

4. Add more well-sized boxes

Add-more-well-sized-boxesSince you’ll have to clean up the main litter box more often now, then it pays to have extra boxes around. You can let your kitty conduct his business in a secondary box while you’re cleaning and drying out the first one.

Choose a spacious box

When selecting a new or secondary litter box, consider how your cat has grown and the comfort he needs when pooping. The box must be at least as long as your cat — from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail (when extended). A spacious box can in fact help in improving the ventilation inside, further minimizing the nasty odors.

Also, find a box with sides that have just the right height for your kitty to step in more easily. If getting into the box feels like he has to climb up a mountain first, he may misbehave and choose not to use the litter box at all.

Set-up multiple litter boxes if you have multiple cats

Most kitties are picky. When living with fellas, they’d be expected to be choosy with where they want to poop or pee. In that case, you’ll have to set up multiple litter boxes in different places. Doing so will ensure that each kitty can have his own place and won’t dare to plant “bombs” outside the litter box.

5. Consider the pros and cons of hooded and open litter boxes

Hooded litter boxes are great for preventing tracking compared to open ones. As for controlling odors, let’s consider how they fare.

Covered litter boxes

Covered litter box with swinging door

Most cats don’t like hooded litter boxes since they add a little hassle when entering in and getting out. But that fact aside, the cover can actually trap odors inside.

Now, this may sound beneficial to you since the hood prevents the odors from circulating around your home. As for the cat, however, it’s going to be different. The trapped odors can turn worse because of less ventilation, and your kitty might find it unpleasant to enter into the hooded litter box.

Open litter boxes


Open litter boxes and pans expose the urine and fecal odors to the surrounding air. So, if you’re placing an open litter box inside your apartment, you could easily notice the smell around.

Ironically, an open litter pan can attract a cat better, not only because there isn’t as much obstacle when entering in, but because the smell in the box itself wouldn’t be as confined and strong as if it were closed.

If, on the other hand, you’re placing the box outside or wherever there’s enough ventilation, then an open litter box could be the more beneficial choice in terms of minimizing odors overall. This actually brings us to the next point.

6. Keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area

litter-box-in-a-well-ventilated-area Many cat parents place the litter box in the bathroom. This practice may make it easier to scoop and flush — if the litter is flushable — but it’s not always beneficial when it comes to controlling odors.

Don’t put the litter box inside tiny and tight areas

If you do, you’ll be concentrating the odors within these tight spaces. You may not notice the smells in the more spacious parts of your home. But, when it’s time to clean, the stinky odors would come off from those tight areas and it would be a lot stronger and more unpleasant.

Choose a well-ventilated spot that’s not drafty

You need to place the litter box in a low-traffic and quiet area. It could be a tiny balcony or somewhere else that has an exhaust fan. Just make sure it’s not windy or drafty in there, or else you could disturb an otherwise peace-loving neighbor.

Also, this spot needs to be away from your kitty’s food as well as from other pets. Keep the litter box as far as possible from anything that can startle your feline, so he won’t be disturbed while doing his business.

7. Use baking soda to remove unpleasant odors

Baking soda put in litter boxBaking soda is a household wonder, so you must always have some spare stock at home.

Sprinkle a little baking soda on the litter box

Before adding a fresh batch of litter to a recently cleaned litter box, try adding baking soda on the bottom of the box. Baking soda is a natural litter box deodorizer, and it can absorb some of the smells without irritating your cat.

Place an open box of baking soda beside the litter box

If you want to keep the powder from getting spread into the air as your cat digs into the litter, then just place an open baking soda box beside your kitty’s litter pan.

Use an odor eliminator if you don’t prefer baking soda

If you or your cat doesn’t like the baking soda around, you may just use an odor-eliminator that you can spray on the litter box. One example is the Zero Odor Litter Box Odor Eliminator.

Add activated charcoal

Whether in powder form or in larger rock-like forms, activated charcoal has the ability to absorb odors. So, you can use it as an alternative to baking soda. Just note that its color (black) can be truly messy on your feline if he comes to get in contact with it.

8. Type of litter for odor control

The type of litter does matter when controlling feline waste odors. Either the litter has a special mechanism that can help in trapping smells quickly or it has powerful ingredients that can knock out odor-causing bacteria. The best odor eliminating cat litter products will have both.

Use a clumping litter


Clumping litters form clumps around your cat’s urine and bind through the moisture of his feces. Thus, clumping litter often helps in locking the stinky smells inside. Even veterinarians recommend its use, especially if your aim is to get rid of urine odors. But you should only be used with the adult cats, eating clay can cause digestion problems in the kittens.

Avoid using litter products with added perfume

Instead of eliminating the smells, perfumes can often worsen the odor by magnifying it or making it too strong and even nauseating.

Try a natural clumping cat litter


Natural litters— such as those made of wheat, corn, and pine have the ability to absorb odors in a natural way. They can also give off scents that are tolerable and even inviting to your cat. If you find a natural litter that’s also clumping, that is such a jackpot since it can capture odors naturally and quickly.

Try using crystal litter

Uniform Crystal size

Crystal litter is made of silica gel and can absorb pee and smells effectively. Many crystal litter products can last weeks without complete replacement. Just note that crystal litters contain chemicals that may not be the safest for your cats.

9. Change your cat’s diet

Feed-your-cat-betterWhat goes into your mouth that the body can’t digest goes out, and the same thing is true for cats. If you’ve done every preventative measure above and found that your cat’s poop is still uncontrollably smelly, then it might be attributed to what your cat eats.

Choose high-quality food


High-quality cat food means greater protein content. Good alternatives are those foods that do not contain starches and grains.

Remember that cats are, by nature, carnivores. So, their diet needs to be mostly (if not completely) meat-based. Grains, starches, and other fillers won’t be as beneficial for the, as these would only stink up the litter box.

Stop giving adult cats milk


Milk is for babies. Adult cats wouldn’t need milk. In fact, milk can only give them runs; they won’t be able to digest it well enough.

Monitor your cat’s water intake


Make sure your cat is drinking enough water. Higher water intake can help neutralize the odor in cat urine.

Consult your kitty’s vet

Consult your kitty's vet
If you’re unsure about what to feed your cat, it’s best to consult his vet. Cats have different needs during different stages of life. Hence, your cat may be lacking in some nutrients or he may be having too much of what you can consider as junk food. Remember that an unbalanced diet results in poor health, which can then manifest itself in your cat’s excrement.

How To Remove Cat’s Odor?

Suppose you’re willing to implement the techniques above but you’ve already been doing it all wrong for some time now. Certainly, this is why you’re currently suffering from the horrible smells circling around your home.

Well, take heart, and let’s get your surroundings freshened up again. Check out the following tricks on how to get rid of the litter box smell and all the other cat odors that continue to linger.

1. Use a vacuum cleaner

Suppose your cat was cleaning himself up after doing his business inside the litter box. If he’s licking himself while on the carpet or just anywhere else in your home, he may leave traces of urine-sprinkled fur. Collectively, those traces may smell.

Step 1: Clean up your floor with a vacuum cleaner

A little sweeping won’t be good enough. Plus, it’s possible that it’s not just the fur that’s stuck on your floor. Tracked granules of litter would have gone there, too. And they would have carried odor-causing residue and germs with them, making the odor problem worse. Vacuum all that up.

Step 2: Vacuum the carpet and furniture

As long as your vacuum cleaner can reach those nooks and pieces, let it. Cat fur and dander have a way of staying trapped in fabrics, both of your carpets and sofa and they can even reach window coverings.

Step 3: Sprinkle baking soda

Try sprinkling baking soda on your rugs, carpets, and even over upholstered surfaces. It’s a tried and tested cat litter odor eliminator. Allow it to sit first for several hours so it can neutralize the smells. Then, vacuum the surfaces again.

2. Regularly groom your cat

Trimming the hair cat prevent tracking

Cats keep themselves clean as much as they can, but it’s easy for them to miss certain spots. Germs could build up in these areas and could even spread around places in your home, carrying odors with them.

Wash and brush their coats

Cats, especially those with long hair, can trap pee and (a little of) poop residue. Be sure to bathe your cat regularly and brush his fur to remove tiny bits of litter that got stuck in there somewhere, if any.

Trim their nails

Dirt and excrement residue can also hide under your cat’s nails. Do your part of helping your feline clean and trim those little areas.

3. Air purifiers

Air purifiers

Air purifiers can help in neutralizing cat litter odors, but you have to consider your cat’s sensitivity to them. Also, purifiers are only a kind of last resort — something you’d do after you’ve already done everything you can with the above tips.

Use only natural fragrances

Air purifiers often come with certain fragrances in them. If these fragrances are too strong, they may only aggravate the smelly situation. Use natural air purifiers instead.

Put the purifier a little away from the box

You want to make sure that your kitty wouldn’t be too disturbed about the smell of the deodorizer whenever he approaches the litter box. So, just don’t put the freshener too close to the box. You can place it high above your head level or somewhere on the wall instead.


Well, it really is important for me that you’d learn to address those litter box odors. After all, it’s probably the most challenging part of fur parenting. And I understand the struggle. Hence, this guide.

So, I’ve just given you a comprehensive list of the techniques and tricks on how to get rid of cat litter smell in the apartment or in your home. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this guide with your friends and fellow cat lovers!

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