9 Steps to Get Rid of Litterbox Smell

Litterboxes are an unfortunate requirement when owning a cat, but that doesn't mean the stink has to be just part of life! There are many ways to reduce or even eliminate litter box smell!

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Use the following steps to reduce your pets litter box smell!

  1. Keep it clean! This is perhaps the simplest, yet most overlooked step in keeping a litterbox from smelling. There is a reason that it is suggested to clean a litterbox once per day - not just to reduce smell, but to be sure your cat(s) have sanitary space to do their business. It will also allow you keep an eye on their regularity and look of their pee and poop. This can help you identify any health issues early! Have an airtight container (diaper trash cans work well) to scoop used litter into and take that out at least once per week. Do not flush litter down the toilet! Always be sure to wash your hands after cleaning a litter box.

  2. Have the right number of boxes if you have multiple cats. An overcrowded litter box can cause a cat to use the floor, houseplants or other areas which will dramatically increase smell. General rule of thumb is to have 1 litter box per cat and 1 extra if you have 2 or more cats. And yes, even with an extra box, they should still be cleaned daily!

  3. Sanitize! At least once a month, clean the litter box thoroughly, transfer remaining litter to a spare box or container, and sanitize the litter box completely. An easy way to do this is rinse empty box out with a hose, add a small amount of plain dish soap and one tsp of unscented bleach. Fill with water and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Scrub out with a dedicated brush and rinse well. Allow to dry completely before re-adding litter. Every other month you should replace all litter, even if it appears clean. If you don't have a hose, you can use a bucket of soapy water and drain the rinse water down your shower/utility drain (be sure there is no remaining litter in the box). Don't forget to move litterboxes to clean under/around them.

  4. Clean messes the right way. Using an enzymatic pet cleaning product on any urine accidents will help completely remove any lingering odor. Wipe up excess liquid and use enzymatic cleaner according to directions. Check underneath and around litterboxes once per week for any accidents or leaks.

  5. Consider litterbox placement. Litterboxes should be set up in a quiet, well ventilated area with enough light for them to see clearly, no matter time of day (recommend a nightlight if possible). Setting up boxes in a utility or laundry room, cat-proofed garage, or mud room are all good options, but they can be placed in any room without issue if cleaned well! We do not recommend setting them up near where your pets are fed or where other pets or children can access them.

  6. Try out different litters/boxes. Litterboxes do not need to be anything fancy unless you prefer them that way. A litterbox should be large enough for your cat to turn around in comfortably, be made of waterproof, washable material, and have 2"-4" of clean litter in it at all times. There are a huge variety of litterbox options including self cleaning, fully enclosed, litter boxes hidden in furniture and more. Litter options are also widely varied. Chose one based off you and your cats needs - a multi-cat litter is great for larger feline households, a low-dust or low-tracking option is great for a litter box set up in a living space, etc. We generally do not recommend scented litter as it can be off putting to your cat and merely masks scent, does not eliminate it, however it is a personal choice.

  7. Ensure your cats have good diet/hydration. Keeping your cats general health in top condition will help keep smells from taking over your house. Providing fresh water on a daily basis will help your cat(s) stay hydrated which not only keeps them health and happy, but can reduce the potency of urine smell.

  8. Use a moisture/odor absorber. There are many options for moisture and odor eliminators that you can set up near your cats litter box to help reduce smell. Hanging closet moisture absorbers are ideal for areas near a litter box. Plain baking soda can be a great natural odor absorber - however do not place it directly into box, as you do not want your cat to breathe it in. Again, we recommend avoiding using scented products including plug-in diffusers or other strong scents near the litter box as some cats will avoid areas with very strong smells.

  9. Regular veterinary check ups. If you notice any unusual litter box behaviors, sights or smells, if your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, is straining or vocalizing while trying to go, make an appointment to see your vet. These can all indicate a health concern that needs immediate attention. If you are unsure of if you should be concerned, you can always call your vet to explain what is happening and they can advise you on next steps!

Litterboxes can be virtually invisible with the proper upkeep and maintenance! Performing regular litterbox care will keep your cats (and you!) happy and healthy!

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