How to get rid of the cat litter smell

Updated April 17, 2017

Owning a cat, or allowing a cat to own you, brings plenty of rewards. Keeping a cat, however, also means keeping a litter box. The threat of litter box odours overtaking your home may dissuade you from getting a cat. Learn how to manage a litter box properly, however, and you and your cat will enjoy many happy years together.

Shop carefully for cat litter and boxes. Finely-grained litters seem to have less odour as opposed to clay litter. The fine-grained litters are usually clumping litters that make frequent cleanings easier. Once you find a litter that pleases your cat and your nose, regardless of the type, stay consistent. Find a litter box that suits you and your cat. A covered box may be the wrong choice if you tend to "forget" about messes you don't see.

Scoop out urine or faeces daily. Cat urine breaks down into smelly ammonia if given the chance. Cats also prefer clean litter boxes and will find alternatives if the litter box is messy. Scooping daily is the best way to rid your home of a cat litter smell.

Dump the litter and replace with fresh litter at least once a week. Dumping the litter is different from daily scooping. After dumping the old litter, use a mild dish soap and water to clean the box.

Pour some baking soda into the litter box when changing the litter. A thin layer of baking soda, under the litter, will help the box remain odour free. Avoid using any fragrances or spray to help with odour problems. Cats may reject the smell and, then, reject the litter box. When adding the new litter, keep the litter around 2 inches deep; more litter doesn't lessen smells.

Place more than one litter box in your home. Adding more litter boxes is especially important for homes with multiple cats. Extra litter boxes require a little more work, but this step will prevent odours from dominating one area of the house. Cats also take better to using a litter box when given more choices.


Never punish your cat when it refuses to use the litter box. First, rule out any medical problems by taking a trip to the veterinarian. Second, evaluate the kind of litter, the box and the placement to find a cause and solution; note that cats like quiet, out of the way places to relieve themselves.

Things You'll Need

  • Cat litter
  • Litter box (preferably more than one)
  • Scooper
  • Mild dish soap
  • Rag or scrub brush for cleaning
  • Baking soda
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About the Author

Jennifer Marlowe is a seasoned journalist with experience since 1994. As a former reporter and columnist, she has written for a variety of publications including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "Sew Simple Magazine," "Northern Ohio Live," "Ohio Game & Fish" and "The Country's Best Log Homes." Marlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Akron.