We all love our cats, but it’s okay to admit that you are sometimes bothered by the smell. I recently took in a stray kitten, which reminded me how easily “cat smell” can take over your home if you’re not careful. This 3-pound kitten has the potential to produce more stink than our two 70-pound dogs, but I have no one to blame for that than myself. Cats are generally clean pets, and when you adopt the right routine, it’s 100% possible to live with a cat (and even multiple cats) and never smell them. I researched the best odor-fighting tips for my own purposes, and I know from experience that they really do work.
Here’s a list of the best strategies to fight the cat smell in your home.
Get the Right Litter Box
When we first took in our previously-stray kitten, we were using a super basic litter box. It was just a plastic pan with raised edges. This was our first mistake. While I think it was useful to teach the kitten always to use a litter box, the open design did nothing to prevent odors.
We’ve since upgraded to a covered litter box, and it does a great job of stopping the smell from spreading through the house. Most people recommend covered litter boxes when it comes to preventing cat smell. You can even get a box with built-in air filtration to trap even more odors.
Choose the Right Litter
Choosing the right kind of kitty litter isn’t as easy as it sounds. There is litter made from clay, synthetics, paper, corn, and wood. It can be scented, unscented, clumping, or non-clumping—talk about overwhelming options!
In general, clumping litter tends to prevent odors the best. I’ve also found that scented litter does nothing but barely mask the smell, and you usually end up with a sickening scent of some kind of flower mixed with urine. An unscented litter with specific odor-reducing agents has been working well for us.
When picking out litter, remember that your cat’s preference matters. Some of our feline friends are especially picky about their choice of the litter. If they don’t like it, you’ll end up cleaning cat poop off the floor, and that definitely won’t help with the smell.
Clean the Litter Box More Often
If you’re not scooping poop at least once a day, you need to clean your litter box more often. Most people say you should actually clean the litter box twice a day to best prevent cat smell from taking over your house.
Twice a day sounds like a lot of work. But when you’re cleaning more often, you have less to clean each time. It’ll take you about two minutes to get the job done, and having a stench-free house will be worth the effort. Make it part of your routine to clean the litter box every morning and evening.
Don’t Forget Full Clean Outs
While you should be scooping twice daily, you also need to clean out the entire litter box regularly. Every 1-2 weeks is a good starting point. Any longer, and bacteria will start to grow and cause all kinds of stinky problems.
To do this, empty all the litter and use soap and water to wash the pan. Make sure to dry the box thoroughly before adding your fresh new litter.
Use Baking Soda
So many people swear by this baking soda trick. Regardless of the kind of litter you are using, you can use this kitchen staple to prevent cat smell. Baking soda doesn’t mask odors; it absorbs them (which is better).
Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into the litter box every time you scoop. During major cleanouts, put a layer of the stuff at the bottom of the box before you add the new litter. They even make a cat-specific one that works great and is super inexpensive.
Clean Your Scooper
This sounds like common sense when you think about it, but many people forget to clean their litter scoopers after each use. That scoop is coming in direct contact with the stinky stuff, and even plastic can end up smelling.
It’s good to get in the habit of rinsing your scoop after every use. This will prevent bacteria from taking hold. You should also wash it with good old soap and water every time you do a major litter box clean.
Vacuum More Regularly
The litter box is the obvious epicenter of all cat smell, but vacuuming your house is also important if you want to stop the stench. Cats can track litter through the house when it gets stuck to their paws, and having hair everywhere can contribute to bad smells.
It’s best to vacuum your house at least once a week. If you have multiple pets, you might have to pull out the vacuum more often. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to regularly wash all the blankets, pillows, and cat beds. Investing in a robot vacuum can also help to keep your house cleaner and is less stress on you.