How to Test the Odor Control of Cat Litter

She's playing, knowing you have the odor control problem licked.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Pour cat litter into the litter box ... your furbaby does her business ... you clean and dump the waste. Sniff. Do you smell cat urine or poop? You might buy her litter with a nose to odor control. Your chosen brand depends on your ability to smell ... cat stuff.

Scratch and Sniff

Yuck. Your cat relies on an open box filled with litter as her bathroom. She does scratch at the litter to bury her waste -- this is an old and instinctive behavior that your furbaby exhibits. If you’re not in the habit of cleaning waste out of her box daily, the stench will grow.

After you’ve cleaned out the litter that is currently in her box, come back and, with the scooper, move the litter around and sniff. If you smell a tell-tale odor of urine, ammonia or cat poop, it’s not strong enough.

Blind Testing

Buy the smallest bags of several brands of cat litter. Test them one at a time for odor control, noting how long the freshness lasts. Once that distinctive eau de cat stink rears its lovely head, write the date down. Repeat this with each brand of litter and keep notes on how effective the odor control is for each.

Once you have tested each bag of litter, take a look at your notes and see which one lasts the longest. Your nose knows.

Use Ammonia

You know how old cat urine starts to smell like -- koff, koff -- ammonia, that strong, choking odor. Whew! You may not be able to clean your furbaby’s box every day, and it’s under these conditions that this ammonia-like odor begins to develop as the urine breaks down.

If you have a bottle of this stuff, take an old container that you do not plan to use for your kitty and add some litter to it. Pour in about 1/4 of a cup of ammonia and let it sit for several hours. Come back and do the ol’ sniff test. If you choke and cough, you’ll need to buy another brand of litter and try again. Once you can add this strong cleaner to a small box of litter and not die from the smell, you may have found a litter you can live with.

Your Cat’s Reaction

At the end of the day, your furbaby’s own reaction to the litter in her box will be a huge determining factor. If you’ve bought the nicest-smelling litter that makes her box smell like a perfume boutique, she may object to the perfume-y smell. She may take the most easily to the simplest, most plain litter on the store shelf.

She has to live with the litter in her box. She uses it and scoops it over her waste. She has a very sharp little nose that can easily detect the smallest amount of odor. Watch her reaction to the litters you buy. If you’re going to have a happy little feline, give in to her on this one little matter. She knows what she’s doing.

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