How To Get Rid Of Cat Litter Smell Fast

Why Your Cat’s Litter Box Smells

A stinky litter box is one of the unfortunate side effects of being a cat owner. The ammonia odor from cat urine builds up quickly, especially in enclosed spaces like a bathroom or closet where the litter box is kept. While cats are very clean animals, the smell from their bathroom habits can be overpowering.

It’s important to keep your cat’s litter box clean and odor-free for a couple of reasons. First, cats like clean latrines and if the box gets too dirty, your cat may start eliminating outside of the litter box. Second, ammonia fumes from cat urine are harmful for both you and your cat’s health if constantly inhaled. And third, it’s just downright unpleasant to live with a home that smells like a litter box.

The good news is there are many things you can do to keep odor under control. With consistent effort and the right products, you can keep your home smelling fresh despite your cat’s bathroom habits.

Scoop Daily

One of the most effective ways to prevent cat litter odor is to scoop the litter box at least once per day. Allowing urine and feces to accumulate will result in ammonia building up from the urine. Ammonia has a pungent odor that can be difficult to eliminate once established. According to How Often Should You Scoop a Cat’s Litter Box, “Litter boxes should be scooped at least once or twice a day, and it’s even better if you can get to it as soon as your cat has finished…” Scooping daily removes waste before the smells have time to spread.

For multi-cat households, scooping more than once per day is ideal. The more cats using the litter box, the quicker odors will build up. Get into a routine of scooping first thing in the morning and once more before bedtime. This will help control odors and keep the litter fresher for your cat.

Be sure to completely remove all waste and clumps during scooping. Any bits left behind will still create odor. After scooping, check the litter level and replenish with fresh litter as needed to maintain at least 2-3 inches.

Use Odor Absorbing Litters

One of the best ways to combat litter box odors is to use a litter that naturally absorbs and traps odors. Litters made of clay, pine, and wheat are very effective at sealing in odors so they don’t spread throughout the home.

Clay litters, especially clumping varieties, absorb liquid and odors into the clay and form tight clumps that lock in smell. The clumps can then be scooped out, removing the odor source before it has a chance to circulate.

Pine and wheat litters are highly absorbent and contain natural odor neutralizing properties. As your cat urinates on these litters, the smells become trapped within the litter grains. Pine and wheat litters also tend to produce less dust than clay.

Switching to a more odor absorbing litter while also keeping up with frequent scooping is a great first step to cutting down on litter box stench.

Clean the Litter Box

One of the most effective ways to keep litter box odors at bay is to scoop out waste and change the litter frequently. The general recommendation is to fully clean the litter box once per week. This involves scooping out all urine clumps, solid waste, and used litter. Then, wash the litter box with soap and hot water to remove any stuck-on debris. Allow the litter box to dry completely before refilling with fresh litter.

Fully changing the litter weekly helps prevent ammonia from urine buildup, which is one of the main causes of litter box smell. It gives you a chance to thoroughly clean the box and start fresh. Some cats may need more frequent full changes if they urinate a lot. Make sure to use gloves when cleaning the litter box to avoid direct skin contact with waste and litter dust.

For best results, use a clumping, odor-controlling litter. Scoop waste out of the litter box daily as well. Daily scooping combined with weekly litter changes is the most effective way to control odor and keep cats happy with a clean latrine area.


Use Litter Deodorizers

Litter deodorizers can help eliminate unpleasant litter box smells fast. Look for litters that contain baking soda, activated charcoal, or fragrances. The baking soda and charcoal will help absorb odors trapped in the litter. Fragrances will help mask any lingering smells. Some litters come perfumed with pleasant scents. Others have unscented varieties you can combine with litter deodorizers.

Try a baking soda based litter deodorizer. Baking soda is highly effective at absorbing and neutralizing odors. It’s also very affordable. Simply sprinkle some into the litter box each time you scoop. The baking soda will continue working to keep smells at bay between changes.

Activated charcoal also absorbs odors well. Charcoal litters help trap unpleasant smells. Look for light-weight granulated charcoal litters. The charcoal granules allow urine to pass through to the bottom of the litter box. At the same time, they absorb the smell.

Scented litters add a fresh fragrance to the litter box area. Opt for subtle, pleasant scents like baby powder, fresh linen, or lavender. Avoid strong perfumed litters, as the smell may put off finicky cats. Herbal scents are ideal. Look for plant-based options like lemon grass, rosemary, and mint.

When using scented litters, stick to tried and true lighter scents. Make changes gradually to avoid confusing your cat. With regular scooping and fragrant litters, you can keep the litter box smelling clean.

Clean the Litter Box Area

Regularly cleaning the surfaces around the litter box is crucial for controlling odors. Litter can get kicked out of the box and onto the surrounding floor and walls. Urine and feces residue will build up in these areas and create nasty lingering odors. Here are some tips for keeping the litter box area clean:

Wipe down the walls and floor around the litter box daily. Use a disinfecting cleaner or a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Pay close attention to corners and crevices where litter and waste can accumulate.[1]

Occasionally do a deep clean by removing everything, scrubbing the floor and walls with an enzymatic cleaner, and rinsing thoroughly. Allow the area to dry completely before replacing the litter box.[2]

Place a mat or litter catching mat under and around the litter box to make cleaning easier. Mats will catch stray pieces of litter.

Cover any nearby porous surfaces like carpeting or unfinished wood with an easy to clean material.

Keeping this area clean will help control odors at the source. Be diligent about daily and weekly cleaning of the surfaces surrounding the litter box.

Air Out the Room

Cat urine and feces produce harmful ammonia gases that can linger in the air. It is important to keep fresh air circulating continuously through the room. Open windows whenever possible to allow stale odors to escape and fresh air to enter. Run ceiling or floor fans to keep the air moving.

Proper ventilation and air circulation has been shown to greatly reduce pet odors indoors. According to Dyson, “Air purifiers equipped with activated carbon filters can effectively capture pet odors from the air, reducing unpleasant smells associated with pet ownership.” (Source)

Keeping the windows open and air circulating will help remove lingering odors much faster than trying to mask them with sprays or candles. Make sure to allow plenty of fresh air into the litter box area and the rest of the home for clean, odor-free air.

Use Odor Eliminating Products

Enzyme cleaners and odor eliminating sprays can help neutralize unpleasant smells from the litter box area. Enzyme cleaners contain bacteria that break down the compounds causing odors at the molecular level. Spray enzyme cleaners directly into the litter box before adding new litter. Allow the enzymes time to work before letting your cat use the litter box again.

Odor eliminating sprays contain powerful agents that bind to and neutralize odor molecules in the air. Spritz these sprays around the litter box and surrounding area to eliminate lingering odors. Allow the spray to fully dry before allowing your cat into the space. These sprays help capture odors caused by urine, feces, vomit, and other strong smells. Just be sure to select a pet-safe odor eliminating spray.

Check Litter Box Location

Where you place the litter box can have a big impact on how much odor spreads through your home. The general rule is to keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area, away from heavy social traffic. Some good locations include a laundry room, mudroom, bathroom, or spare room that is not used much. You want good airflow to quickly vent odors outside rather than letting them accumulate in living spaces.

Avoid placing the litter box in or near rooms where people spend a lot of time, like the kitchen, family room, or bedroom. The more isolated the location, the less likely smells will take over the whole house. Some pet experts recommend keeping it on a different floor level than the main living areas if possible. For example, place it in a ventilated basement if you have one.

If you keep the litter box in a closet or small enclosed space, make sure there is still good airflow in and out. You don’t want odors and moisture trapped inside. Install a vent, use a fan, or keep the door partially open.

Cats prefer quiet, private locations to do their business. But limiting odor spread throughout your home should take priority over their desires. With the right litter and good cleaning routine, your cat will adapt to a more open, ventilated area for their litter box. Just be sure to give them some privacy.

When to See the Vet

Certain health issues can cause increased odors. For example, kidney disease can lead to a urine or ammonia-like odor coming from the cat’s mouth (1). Diabetes mellitus may produce a sweet or “fruity” smell from the breath as well (2).

If the odor persists even after trying various solutions, it’s a good idea to schedule a veterinarian appointment. The vet can help identify any underlying medical causes and provide proper treatment.

Some other signs that warrant a veterinary visit include inappropriate urination outside the litter box (3), increased thirst or appetite, weight loss, or lethargy. Don’t hesitate to contact your vet if the bad smells are accompanied by any behavioral or physical changes in your cat.





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