How To Manage Litter Box Odor Like a Pro
Every cat owner wants their kitty to use a litter tray – the alternative is not very pleasant. However, the smell that is created is not so welcome. Cat pee and poop do not smell great and this is not an odor that you want to be lingering in your home. So, what can you do about it? Here are our top tips on how you can manage litter box odor like a pro and keep your home smelling fresh no matter how many cats you have!
Choice Of Cat Litter
Look out for a cat litter that has excellent odor absorbing capabilities. You may have to try a few to find the one that works best for you and for your cat. Clumping clay litter is very popular but there are many natural and plant-based alternatives.
Artificial litter tray scents are not a great idea. They can trigger allergic reactions in some cats and may even put your cat off using the litter tray. Some owners find that baking soda is a good natural alternative. When you change from one type of litter to another, it is best to mix a small amount in with your old litter at first. Then, gradually change the proportions until you are using just the new litter.
Adequate Litter Boxes
One litter tray is fine if you only have one cat. If you have more than one cat, you should seriously consider having more than one litter try. If you have the space to have one litter tray per cat, you stand a much better chance of keeping odors under control. The size is also important. The general rule is that you need a litter tray that is at least twice as long as your cat. This will encourage them to use it. It also needs to be the same width as your cat’s length. This is a minimum though and you should buy as large a tray as you can fit in the space you have in your home. It must be made of a material that is easy to clean so it cannot be porous. Plastic containers are the most widely used and are reasonably priced. They are also lightweight so that you can pick them up to clean them thoroughly.
Don’t forget that all of the litter trays in your house need to be cleaned. It can be easy to leave one out, especially if it is on a different level of your house.
Tray Liners And Covers
Tray liners can seem like a good idea for making cleaning out the litter tray easier. However, some cats don’t like them at all and it can put them off using the litter tray. Also, urine (pee) can seep through them if they get torn. Unfortunately, tears are quite common because cats have sharp claws! The urine sits under the liner where you can’t get at it and where there is no litter to soak it up and absorb the odor. For this reason, they can make the odors worse.
A covered cat litter tray looks a bit like a box and does afford your kitty some privacy whilst they do what they need to do. However, they can also trap odors in which may put your cat off using the litter tray.
Self-cleaning litter trays can be used with silica gel which absorbs a lot of odor but they are expensive and need a power supply. They also need a monthly clean out and some cats don’t like them.
Daily Cleaning Of The Tray
The key to avoiding unpleasant litter box odors is daily cleaning. This does not have to mean a complete litter change. It means that you scoop out all the solids (poop) and all the areas where the litter has clumped together (pee). The sooner you scoop, the more odor you will avoid. Use a poop scoop with small holes and add fresh litter to replace what you have taken out. Turn over the litter and mix in the fresh granules that you have added.
The additional advantage is that this encourages your cat to use the litter box and makes ‘little accidents’ around the home less likely. Cats are very clean animals and do not like using a filthy litter box. After all, who would like to stand in poop when they are trying to have a pee!
Weekly Deep Clean
The only way to avoid the build up of material in the litter tray that can cause persistent odors is to carry out a thorough clean once a week. You will need to discard all of the litter in the tray and soak the whole box in hot water.
Do not use strong cleaning chemicals as these could harm your cat. They also have strong odors of their own and they could put your cat off using their litter tray. If hot water alone does not seem to be doing the job, you can use some mild liquid detergent – the one that you use for washing dishes in your sink will be suitable. This will help to loosen any buildup of urine (pee) or feces (poop) that has adhered to the tray itself. You may need to rub it with a cloth. Any cleaning products that contain ammonia or bleach should never be used. However, if you have some stubborn ‘material’ that you need to get rid of, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or some vinegar in hot water can be very effective at removing both bacteria and odors.
You should not put yourself at risk in your quest to rid your house of kitty odor. Cat poop can contain harmful pathogens (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that can make humans very ill. Salmonella, E.coli and toxoplasmosis are just a few examples. For this reason, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised should avoid coming into contact with the litter tray if at all possible.
Everyone else should take sensible precautions. Use gloves (disposable ones may be best) and a cleaning rag that you can discard afterwards. Any other utensils (including non-disposable gloves) that you use for cleaning the litter tray, should be reserved for this purpose only and should not be used for any other tasks around the home. Try to avoid breathing in the litter dust or you could use a face mask. Once you have finished, take off the gloves and wash your hands and arms thoroughly.
Dry The Tray Thoroughly
Don’t refill the litter tray when it is still wet because the litter will absorb the water and will be less able to absorb odors. The best approach is to dry out the litter tray with a paper towel and sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom before you add the litter. This will probably be more acceptable to your cat than artificial chemical scents. Also, don’t be tempted to use your own perfumes, body sprays or powders as many of these are toxic to cats. Air fresheners and fragrances designed for fabrics and the home should also not be sprayed in the litter tray as they could harm your cat.
Removing the cause of odors and neutralizing them is always a better idea than trying to cover them up.
Replace The Litter Box Regularly
Your cat will not be able to use the same litter tray for their entire life! At some point you will have to change it for a new one. Exactly how often you change it will depend on how damaged it becomes. Cats have sharp claws that can make a mark on the plastic surface and a sharp poop scooper can do the same. When the top surface of the plastic material is scored, it makes it more porous and harder to clean and sterilize. Small quantities of poop and pee can get stuck in the grooves. You may not be able to see it but it will be there and can make the litter tray hard to clean.
Once you spot several scratches, it is time to change the litter tray to avoid odors. Typically, a litter tray needs to be renewed around once every 12 months.
It is understandable that you may not want your cat’s litter tray on display in the middle of your living room. However, hiding it away in a dark corner that receives no natural ventilation is not going to help the odor issue!
Also, if your cat does not like the location of the litter tray, they simply will not use it. Try to come to a compromise and pick an area that is fairly discrete and out of the way but which is ventilated enough to allow the odors to dissipate naturally.
Now that you know how to avoid those nasty litter tray odors you can manage your cat’s toilet habits and still be house proud!