By Jane Harrell, Petfinder.com associate producer
Litter box odor can be the toughest part of living with a cat. Even if it doesn’t bother you, having friends over who “smell cat” is embarrassing. On the other hand, having friends over who remark about seeing, but not smelling, your cat feels great.
Here are some simple steps you can take to fight the stink and keep you and your cat happy:
1. Scoop the box daily or more. Old urine and feces might not be as pungent to you as the fresh stuff, but the longer it sits there, the more likely it is the smell will invade the rest of your house. Scoop your litter box early and often to cut down the odor.
2. Replace the litter twice a week. Even if you scoop every time your cat uses the litter box, you’re bound to miss some. And even a tiny bit gets stinky over time. To combat this, regularly dump out the litter, wash the box with soap and warm water (not ammonia-based cleaners — ammonia can make the smell worse), dry it and put fresh litter in.
3. Replace the litter box once a year. Over time, your cat’s claws and your scooper can make small grooves in the bottom and sides of your litter box. These grooves are harder to sterilize and can hold onto odor. Avoid this by donating your used litter box to a shelter or rescue group yearly and treating your cat to a new box.
4. Try litter deodorizers. Using a little baking soda or deodorizer in your litter box can go a long way to a fresher house. However, many cats will stop using heavily-scented litter boxes, so make sure to use a deodorizer that both you and your cat will like (or one that’s unscented). Sprinkle a little bit of the deodorizer over the litter every time you scoop the litter box.
5. Find a brand of litter that smells best to you (and your cat). Try using a different litter in each litter box in your home and seeing (a) which litter your cat prefers and (b) which litter controls the odor the best. (Read more about setting up a litter cafeteria.) You might just find that you and your cat have a litter preference in common.
6. Keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area. One of the biggest mistakes cat parents can make is putting the litter box in a tiny, dark and hidden space. This just allows the odor to concentrate. Plus, if it’s unpleasant for your cat to use, he’ll be more likely to find somewhere else to go — perhaps in the center of your bed. Keep your litter box in a well-ventilated spot where the scent can easily disperse and there’s enough light and room for your cat to get in, move around and come out comfortably.