Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How to Control Cat Litter Box Odor

By Betty Lewis | Updated September 26, 2017

Mekenzie Hemstreet/Demand Media

Your cat's sense of smell is much more refined than yours, so you can imagine that if you think her litter box is a bit funky, she knows it is. If the litter box odor is getting a bit out of control, get a handle on the situation sooner, rather than later. It's fairly easy to control litter box odors, and your cat will appreciate your extra effort.

Job One: Scoop, Scoop, Scoop


The first rule of minimizing litter box odor is to keep it clean. Of course, you can't follow your kitty around with a litter scoop, waiting for the moment to clean up after her so her box stays pristine. But you can set a schedule to clean her litter box at least twice a day, no matter if you use clay or clumping litter. If you use clay litter, use a large, solid spoon to pick up as much urine-soaked litter as possible, and be sure to replenish with fresh clay litter to keep enough litter in her pan. If you hate cleaning the litter box, or simply don't have time, consider investing in a self-cleaning litter box that automatically cleans the pan 10 minutes after the cat takes her leave.

Cleaning the Toilet


Just as you scrub your toilet regularly, your cat's litter pan needs regular cleaning as well. An unscented dish detergent or a solution of 1 part bleach to 20 parts water releases debris clinging to her litter box, helping to minimize odor. Clean the litter scoop at the same time. Replacing clay litter at least twice a week and clumping litter every two to three weeks also helps reduce odor, though the cleaning schedule ultimately depends on your cat -- or cats -- and how many litter boxes you have. As a rule of thumb, when you notice the odor, or if the litter is wet and clumpy, it's time to clean the pan and replace the litter.

Prime Placement


You may be tempted to put your cat's litter box in a far-away place where you'll never notice its odors. While that sometimes works, it's not always practical. The main point of the litter box is to provide your cat a place to take care of her business, so it should be accessible to her. A well-ventilated place, such as near a window, helps disperse odor, as opposed to a warm place, such as by your furnace or dryer, which intensifies the odor. A low-traffic spot gives your kitty some privacy and makes you happy because you're less likely to encounter any offensive smell. The Humane Society of the United States recommends one litter box for each cat plus an extra box, so even if you're a single-feline household, you'll need to find homes for at least two litter boxes. If you have a multistory home, place a litter box on every level.

Deodorize, Don't Mask Odors


Just as most cats don't appreciate fragrant litter, they're also not keen on air fresheners by their litter box. It's fine to put air fresheners or candles elsewhere in the house, but if you want to address the odor at the source, go with something that's not going to irritate your cat's nose. Sprinkling a light layer of baking soda at the bottom of the litter box absorbs odors without annoying your cat. Check your pet store for products that help minimize odors with bacteria-eating enzymes or odor-absorbing crystals.

It's Kitty's Toilet


Kitty litter and litter boxes seem to be designed with people in mind, forgetting that ultimately, the real customer is the cat. A covered box may look tidy and may help keep odors from wafting out, but it traps odors in the box, making it unpleasant for your cat. As well, you may like the smell of a perfumed cat litter, but consider your kitty's powerful, sensitive nose; what smells delightful to you may be overpowering -- and ultimately discouraging -- for her. When it comes to litter, more isn't necessarily better. Putting in loads of litter doesn't mean you won't have to clean the box as often; in fact, it may discourage your cat from using her litter box, as cats generally prefer a litter box with about 2 inches of litter.

Photo Credits

  • Mekenzie Hemstreet/Demand Media