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What Is the Best Way Reduce Litter Box Odors?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What Is the Best Way Reduce Litter Box Odors?

How do you reduce litter box (also known as litterbox, litter pan or litterpan) urine odors?

These unpleasant odors from waste and soiled litter can really add up depending on the type of litter you use, how many cats you have, how many litter boxes you have, the location of the litter boxes, how often you clean the box and how old both litter and box are.

Here are some tips to help you deal with litter box urine odors:

1.        Scoop Daily. Litter can only absorb so much odor – once the litter is saturated, the odor is no longer controlled. There should not be more than 4 – 6 clumps in the box between scoopings. If there are more, you either are not scooping enough or need more litter boxes.

2.        Remove or Seal the Wastes. The clumps that you take out of the box are full of urine odor. Once you scoop the box, seal the odors. Either put the clumps in a bag and take it out to the trash or keep a small trashcan that seals shut right next to the litter box. One commercial product like a Diaper Genie for cats is called the Litter Locker. It seals up dirty litter so the odors do not escape.

3.        Change Out the Litter. Periodically you need to empty all the litter out of the box and replace with new litter. This is best done when you do your monthly box cleaning.

4.        Clean the Box Itself. The actual litter box must be cleaned at least once a month. I recommend doing this after dumping out old litter and before replacing it with fresh litter. If the weather is good, I like to take the litter box outside, let it soak for a while with warm soapy water, and then scrub it well with a good brush. Rinse the box really well and air dry. Don't use harsh detergents as these can soak into the material and discourage cats from using the box.

1.        Replace the Litter Box. The plastic in your cat's litter box actually starts to break down with time. Acid in urine will erode the bottom where there is direct contact between soiled litter and plastic. Once this happens, the box starts to seal in odors. Ideally, litter boxes should be replaced yearly.

5.        Use Litter Spray. If you scoop frequently and your cat's litter box still smells, a spray such as Zero odor or Arm & Hammer Litter Box Spray can really help.

6.        Neutralize, Don't Mask Odors. Replacing one odor with another is usually not effective and heavy perfumes can actually repel cats. If you must use candles or air fresheners, look for ones that neutralize rather than cover urine odors.

7.        Use a Low Dust Litter. Some dusty litters will release odors in the air when a cat digs and scratches.

8.        Clean up Around the Box. Some cats will toss out soiled litter as they dig. This urine tracking can result in odors. Clean all loose litter around and under your cat's litter box.


We hope these tips help keep your home fresh and clean ... and free of litter odor!

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