8 Ways to Make Your Indoor Cat’s Litter Box Smell Less

We love sharing our living spaces with our indoor cats. What we don’t love is dealing with their litter box. Everybody knows that cleaning your cat’s litter box is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. That doesn’t make it any less gross, but its worth it to be with our cats. Most indoor cat owners will probably find that their litter box is the main source of cat stink in the house and wonder how the smell can be reduced. Here are 8 real actions you can take to make your cat’s litter box smell better. We’ve also added in 4 things people and other blogs have recommended to do to your litter that we think can cause problems for your cat.

1 Add More Litter

Cat litter soaks up the smell of your cat’s urine and feces. Sometimes when litter isn’t thick enough, urine can pool in the bottom of your litter box without being absorbed properly. This makes the box and the surrounding area smell of ammonia. Adding more litter gives you a better chance to catch and absorb urine and its smell. Litter should be three inches deep to properly soak up urine. This is especially important if you cat is obsessive about burying their feces as they can leave thinner patches of litter after digging.

2 Clean litter more frequently

The longer you let your cat’s waste sit for the further it’s smell will spread. The shorter waste is left to fester will mean that smells travel around your house. Cats normally use their litter box multiple times a day. 3 to 5 visits a day is normal but the specific number will depend on your cat. This means its best to clean your litter box multiple times throughout the day. Most people will scoop waste from the box once a day but if you’re about the house during the day we recommend doing it twice or three times. A lot of cats will come to the litter box if they realize you are cleaning it. One of my cats is particular about this so I always give him a chance to do his business before I throw out dirty litter to be more efficient.

3 Focus more on scooping urine

Most people focus on scooping their cat’s poop when they clean the litter box as its easier to do and more obvious to see. Cleaning cat pee is often forgotten about and it’s a big reason why cat litter can begin to smell strongly of ammonia after a couple of days. Pay as much attention to cleaning your cat’s urine as their feces, if not more. If you use clay, sand, or silica crystals look for the patches of darker litter which show where your cat has urinated. Scoop them up as best you can and avoid spreading soiled litter with clean litter to keep the box fresher for longer. You can also give litter a better chance to soak up your cat’s waste by making sure that it is even after they use it. Give the box a shake or smooth it out with your litter scooper.

4 Move your litter box to a better location

Having a flow of fresh air can make a big difference to how smell sticks in your house. A lot of indoor cat owners, particularly ones that live in apartments, keep their litter boxes in rooms with poor ventilation such as a corridor or bathroom. This traps smells and lets them build up. If you’ve done this, consider moving your cats litter box to a place near to a window or door where there is a natural draft leaving the house. Running to extractor fan in a bathroom is also a good way to vent out some odor after you clean a litter box.

5 Give your litter box a deep clean

Litter boxes should have their litter completely changed once a week. When we do this, we also like to give the actual box a deep scrub to stop the plastic absorbing smells from our cat’s waste. Use mildly warm water and soap or a light bleach to clean the inside of the litter box. We have a sponge and pair of rubber gloves put aside in a cat cleaning tub to help us clean our litter trays. Empty dirty water into your toilet bowl and make sure to rinse the tray thoroughly until it doesn’t smell of cleaning products.

6 Add baking soda to neutralize the ammonia smell

Many owners who struggle with controlling their litter box’s smell mixing in baking soda with their litter. Baking soda is a common household solution to absorbing bad odors. Unlike air fresheners, baking soda works through a chemical reaction with the actual molecules of waste to neutralize the ammonia smell of cat urine rather than masking it. Baking soda is cheap and also safe to have in your cat’s litter box.

7 Consider a getting a new litter box

If your litter box still smells after giving it a deep clean, it may be time to get a new litter box. Avoid making the same mistake of letting waste to pool in your cat’s litter box in the future. Hooded litter boxes and top entry litter boxes are a little bit better at containing smells, but they don’t magically trap smell inside of them. They do however make it easier for your cat to stop making litter leave their litter box.

8 Switch to odor controlling food

If you think that your cat’s poops smell particularly bad, you can consider switching to an odor control diet. There are many dry foods which are specially designed for indoor cats to control smell such as Royal Canine. Switching to a good quality wet food diet will also normally make your cat’s stools smell less strong. Cats don’t like change and shifting their diet may upset them or maybe even hurt them if they have dietary requirements. If you are unsure about changing diets you should consult your vet first to get

Things to avoid

Some new indoor cat owners make common mistakes when trying to make their litter box smell better at home. Although they have the best of intentions, some of these cat litter box hacks make your cat more likely to relieve themselves outside of the litter box in your home.

1 Using scented litter

If you’ve ever smelled scented litter you will know that it can be pungent. Cats’ senses of smell are 14 times more sensitive than ours. When they use scented litter the artificial smell can be overpowering. If cats don’t like their litter you run the risk of them just ignoring it. We don’t recommend scented litter as it doesn’t normally do a good job of masking bad smells and can negatively affect your cat.

2 Covering up cat litter smells with sprays

This is possibly even worse than scented litters for your cat. We often find that rather than masking the smell, your room just ends up smelling like a mixture of litter and whatever you have just sprayed. Over time you might even associate the nice smell with your cat litter which can be very uncomfortable. Your cat will almost certainly find the deodorant unpleasant and may start to avoid the litter box. The same goes for candles which are also a health risk to your cat if you leave them unattended.

3 Using litter tray liners

Litter tray liners are often advertised as simple solution to cleaning your litter tray. A lot of owners disagree with this as most cats paw at the bottom of their litter box to cover their waste. Its really easy for their claws to tear tray liners when they do this. When you come around to clean the box the bag can split leaving you with an even worse mess over your floor. If your cat doesn’t bury their waste very much you might want to consider these to make weekly cleaning a bit easier but we advise most cat owners to steer clear.  

4 Automated litter boxes

Automated litter boxes are expensive but can be really tempting if you hate cleaning your cat’s litter. We normally aren’t a fan of these as its important to monitor your cat’s litter box for signs of medical complications. Their moving parts can also scare off cats and cause them to eliminate outside of the litter box. Generally, they are only designed to handle solid stools so if your cat has diarrhea you could end up spending a long time cleaning the whole machine by hand. At the end of the day its your decision if you get an automated litter box or not. If you have mobility issues or are out of the house often they can be a good option.