Effective Odor Control for Cat Litter

Foul litter odor may dissuade your cat from using her box -- yikes.
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Litter that smells unpleasant is no fun for your household and can be problematic to your poor cat, as well. If your icky litter box situation is giving you a major headache and perhaps even urging your cat to eliminate elsewhere, it's time to take control.

Frequent Cleaning

To get a grip on cat litter odor, the first step is frequent cleaning -- at least once a day, but preferably twice. Shovel out the stool matter and the wet patches and clumps as well. Supplement the litter removed in the process. This freshens the tray for your little one. With diligent and frequent cleaning, litter odor should not be apparent or persistent.

Tray Washing

Wash the tray with a gentle, fragrance-free dish soap and warm water every week or two, depending on the kind of litter you use. Household bleach can also work well. Boxes using clumping litter may require less frequent washings. Once you're done washing, swill the tray out thoroughly and wash the scoop, too. Get rid of pesky clumps and other dried-out solids that just won't budge with a plastic putty knife.

Types of Litter

Some kinds of litter offer antimicrobial properties, halting bacteria that lead to unpleasant odors. Other litters also may include activated carbon, which draws out lingering smells and dampness. Naturally absorbent litters that neutralize the strong, aggressive odor of ammonia are also available.

Covered Litter Box

If your cat has a penchant for spraying, a covered litter box may help contain the messy stuff. This type of box may also be helpful for keeping litter scatter under control, especially if your cat "tracks" throughout your home. If circulation of air within the box is a concern, opt for an open tray that has taller sides.

Other Tactics

Lightly cover the tray bottom with baking soda. This soaks up bothersome smells without offending your cat with a strong fragrance -- a win-win situation for everyone. A charcoal air filter may also be useful for trapping persistent litter box odor. These filters typically are effective for approximately three months. For easier cleaning, plastic litter box liners also may work.


A location away from your main living areas may also be helpful in keeping cat litter odor down. Locate the litter box in an area readily accessible for your pet. Felines do enjoy their privacy, so a quiet room away from the center of the home may be suitable -- and you won't have to get a whiff of odor while you're in the kitchen cooking or entertaining guests in your living room.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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