Top 7 Litter Box Odor Control Solutions

cat sitting comfortably in a clean litter box

Let’s face it: cats stink. And I say that as a full-fledged cat person. I love cats - they’re cute, cuddly, soft, and sweet. But they come with a not-so-sweet reality - the litter box. For decades we have tried to find the best way to keep a cat box from smelling and overpowering our home, with mixed results at best. However, modern technology and access to the internet have allowed us to create ways and share secrets on how to keep litter boxes smelling fresh and clean.

So, how do we get on top of litter box odor control, exactly?

There are several different ways to control the cat litter box smell you may be faced with, and I’m going to tell you all of the best ones. From natural remedies to pet odor eliminators, and everything in between, you’re going to learn the best way to keep the odor at bay.

Let’s get started!

Why Does My Cat’s Litter Smell So Bad?

This may seem obvious (and it kind of is), but there are actually a lot of factors contributing to the level of odor coming from your cat’s litter box.

  1. Concentrated urine. Cat pee, on average, just smells more intense than other animal’s. Most attribute their litter box smells with ammonia, which can be particularly strong and unpleasant for humans.
  2. Your cat’s diet. Ammonia is a protein metabolism by-product. If the stench is too strong to handle and you’re wondering how to control that litter box odor, you may want to try a different protein source to see if it helps. (For example - if they’re eating chicken, try switching it to tuna). Your cat should also be drinking plenty of water.
  3. Type of litter. The sole purpose of litter is to absorb urine and keep the box dry. There are several different types of litter:

a. Clay-based: The cheapest, with a fairly absorbent quality. 
b. Plant-based: Composed of environmentally friendly materials such as recycled paper. Good for odor, but more expensive.
c. Silica-based: Has excellent absorbent properties with solid odor control.
d. Clumping vs. non-clumping: Clumping litter is good for odor control, and makes it easier to scoop waste. Non-clumping litter is harder to scoop and doesn’t provide as much control.

4. Type of litter box. Litter boxes should be twice as large as your cat, and should not have plastic lining. While plastic lining claims to help with litter box odor control, it actually can make it worse by absorbing urine and leaking it into the box.

Do Litter Box Enclosures Help with Smell?

While we’re on the subject, the type of litter box you use is just as important. So, the answer is this:
Yes, but at a price.
Enclosed litter boxes may be more comfortable for us humans, but they can make your cats very uncomfortable, and even cause them to urinate outside of the box. The enclosure traps the smells in with the cat, and believe it or not, your cat doesn’t like those smells either. So unless you plan on scooping the box daily, it isn’t recommended to get an enclosed litter box to solve your odor problem.

How to Detect Cat Urine in Your Home

If you’re reading this article, you may have already lived through the worst case scenario - your cat has already peed somewhere that isn’t the litter box. Or, even worse, you don’t know where they peed, but you can smell it.

Every cat owner has been through this nightmare, but luckily for us, we have options. You could simply sniff around your floor, or you can cut your searching time in half with this UV stain pet urine detector. It’s perfect for finding those hard-to-find spots where your cat may have done their nasty deed.

After you’ve found the stain, use our pet stain & odor remover to rid yourself of the stain and smell once and for all - no stress, no mess, just success!

Top 7 Best Ways to Eliminate Litter Box Odor

Time to get into the details. If you’re thinking “How do I get rid of the cat litter box smell in a non-toxic way?”, and I assume you are because you love your cat(s), look no further - here are the 7 safest ways to contain litter box odor:

Young kitten using a clean litter box.

1. Clean it daily

I know daily sounds like quite a bit (even I was shocked here - I only clean my cat box once a week), but it’s worth it if you find the litter box smells completely overpowering.

2. Wash The Box Thoroughly

This step is often overlooked for even the most experienced cat owners - but it’s pivotal for litter box odor control. You should clean your cat box at least once a month with (preferably non-scented) soap and water. Do not use bleach or other harsh chemicals, as the strong smells may cause your cat to avoid the area. Make sure you dry the box before you add litter in!

3. Add Another Box (for Multiple Cats)

You should have at least 1 box per cat, and then an extra (for example, if you have 2 cats, you’ll need 3 boxes, 3 cats = 4 boxes, etc.). It seems like a lot, but if you’re really serious about litter box odor and have multiple cats, you’d be surprised how much this helps (and makes your cats happy)!

4. Replace Your Boxes Regularly

Boxes can become scratched and worn over time from cats clawing around to bury their waste. These scratches are great hubs for bacteria to hide and build up over time, which can cause odors. You should get a new cat box at least once per year.

5. Ventilate the Area

It may be tempting to tuck your cat’s litter box away in a small area to keep the odor at bay, but it actually may be what’s causing the concentrated odor in the first place. This may also cause your cat to avoid the area, too. You may want to keep it in a ventilated area or on a screened porch, if possible.

6. Use Lots of Baking Soda

Just a little bit of baking soda in the bottom of your cat box absorbs odors and can help to keep the area smelling clean. You can also just place an open box of baking soda near the box to absorb the smell.

7. Use a Pet Odor Eliminator Around the Area

For the best results, this step should be used along with whatever other method you choose to effectively eliminate litter box odor. Our pet odor eliminators are safe, effective, and smell great - perfect for any home with an odor issue.

Using these odor eliminators is very easy: simply spray our odor eliminator around the box (not in the box) to help get rid of some of those pesky smells. While our products are safe for cats, be sure to not to spray it in the box, as your cat may not like the smell and thus will not go there. For the best results, try this pet odor eliminator spray.

Getting on top of litter box odor control can be a huge pain. But, unlike our love for our furry friends, it’s not impossible to rid yourself of. If you’re looking for other ways to keep your pet-centric house clean and fresh, check out our purr-fect website!

Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor