No one likes the smell of a dirty litter box. But can you imagine if you were the one that had to use that box? No wonder at least 10% of cats stop using their litter boxes reliably at some point. Of course there can be medical or behavioral reasons for the problems. But not using the litter box often is traced to nothing more than a dirty litter box.
Here’s how to avoid litter box odor and keep your house smelling fresh, which should make you and kitty happier.
First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.
Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household-and any sick cat-should be tested for FeLV.
The No. 1 rule, and the only thing that will keep litter box odor at bay, is constant cleaning. That means scooping the box out at least twice a day, removing the solids and liquid clumps if you use clumping litter.
For those who don’t use clumping litter, use a large, solid metal spoon (such as a large kitchen spoon) to lift out the most urine-soaked areas each time you clean. Add litter as needed to replace what is removed.
Also wash the box weekly, or every other week if you are using clumping litter. Use a mild, unscented dish detergent or a mild bleach spray (20 parts water to one part bleach) and rinse well. Clean your scooper also.
When dry, add 2 to 3 inches of litter. Cats don’t like a deep tray of litter and this allows you to add litter as you scoop.
Does the Type of Litter Matter?
Some litters have perfumes or other additives that claim to help cover litter smell. But to a cat these can smell overwhelming and make the box unwelcoming. Most veterinarians advise against using these products.
Many believe that clumping litters, which allow for the easy removal of solids and liquids, keep boxes smelling fresher. But cats can be very particular about which litters they will use. So experiment to find the litter your cat likes best, then stick with it.
Does the Type of Box Matter?
Almost any easily cleaned plastic container can be used as a litter box, but buy the largest box your home can accommodate. A rule of thumb is to get a box that is at least twice as long as your adult cat and as wide as the cat is long.