How to Reduce Kitty Litter Smell

Smelly kitty litter is one of the most annoying parts of being a cat owner. Not only does cat pee smell noxious, but the stench can spread all over your house, making it hard or embarrassing to invite guests over. That’s why we all want to make sure that our cat litter boxes smell as little as possible.

cat sticking out their tongue

Here are some quick tips for how to get rid of cat litter smell:

#1: Scoop Your Kitty Litter Twice a Day At Least

If you leave your toilet unflushed all day, it’s going to start to smell. The same goes with your kitty litter.

Clean out your box at least twice a day, using a metal spoon to pick up both your cat’s poop and any wet urine spots. If your cat has trouble using their litter box consistently, cleaning it will encourage them to use it since many cats avoid pee smells, especially from other cats.

#2: Replace the Litter Twice a Week or More

Even if you scoop out your kitty litter box consistently, smells can still linger in the litter as you accidentally miss small specks of urine and feces. That’s why changing the litter at least twice a week can help to significantly reduce litter box smell.

When you clean your litter box, make sure you not only dump the old litter, but also clean the box itself. Soap and water works well, but you can also use a bleach solution (one part bleach for every three parts water). Avoid ammonia-based cleaners, as it will make the pee smell worse. Make sure you clean your metal scooping spoon as well.

One dried, add two to three inches of litter back into the box. Most cats do not like boxes teeming with too much litter and will refuse to use it.

cat looking out window

#3: Get a New Litter Box

Litter boxes, especially plastic ones, can easily get scratched up by your cat’s claws. Small as they are, these scratches are hard to sterilize and become breeding grounds for odor-causing bacteria.

This is why you should replace your cat’s litter box once every year (we recommend making it their birthday present so that you will always remember). We recommend donating your old box to a shelter or rescue organization in need.

#4: Get a Bigger Litter Box

Cats can be finicky. Even if they have been trained to use a litter box in the past, if they find an issue with their current box, they can refuse to use it now. Then they go to the bathroom all around your house, spreading the smell everywhere.

For finding the right cat box size, follow this rule of thumb: your box should be twice as long as your cat is long and as wide as your cat is long. Any smaller, and the box might be too small for them to comfortably use.

#5: Get Another Litter Box, Especially If You Have More Than One Cat

Unlike dogs, cats hate peeing where other cats have peed. If you are a multi-cat household, you need to get multiple litter boxes to accommodate each of your cats.

Generally, you should have one extra litter box for the number of cats living in your house. For example, if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. And if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes.

#6: Avoid Perfumes and Scented Litter

Cats don’t like perfumes or other strong scents (which is why citrus scents like lemon are a great deterrent for unwanted stray cats). This means that while having scented kitty litter sounds like a good way to cut down on odors, it actually makes it more likely that your cat will avoid using their litterbox.

Unscented litter may be the best cat litter for odor control for you and your cat. Veterinarians highly recommend it, and you may find that it works better than the scented stuff.

While you’re at it, make sure that you don’t spray any air fresheners or perfumes around your cat either for the same reason.

cat looking in through cat mate panel

#7: Use Deodorizer to Freshen Up Your Litter Box

While perfumes and fragrances only mask up the small of your cat’s litter box, A good deodorizer can eliminate the smell completely. There are plenty of retail deodorizers that you can choose from, but we recommend baking soda.

Baking soda is a great all-purpose cleaner that can eliminate tough odors, including stubborn ammonia-based smells. A little goes a long way too, so sprinkling a small amount on top should be enough to clear out those bad smells.

Whatever deodorizer you use, make sure it’s one that your cat likes as well. If your cat doesn’t like the smell or feel of your deodorizer, they won’t use their litter box. Don’t be afraid to try out a few brands until you find one that works for you both.

#8: Put Your Litter Box In a Bigger Space

You probably have heard more than one cat enthusiast recommend putting your litter box in a small cabinet (we’ve definitely recommended it before). For some households, hiding their litter box works, but for others, the confined space can amplify the cat smell.

Moving the litter box to a larger room with better ventilation will help the odors disperse before they can make your litter too smelly. Putting your litter box in the garage, the laundry room, or even an enclosed catio are all great locations with plenty of air circulation.

#9: Block Off Your Litter Box

Okay, so what if you just don’t like how much the kitty litter smell spreads? While leaving your box in the open is great for reducing the smell itself, leaving your box behind a closed door is the best way to keep the smell from getting all over the house.

For this solution, we recommend putting your litter box in a room with a door, like the garage or laundry room. Then you can install a cat flap or a cat hole into your door or wall in order to give your cat access to their box whenever they need it.

If you get your cat a cat door, make sure you train them on how to use their door.

#10: Consult Your Veterinarian

If your cat’s pee or poop has had an obvious change in odor, or this scent issue is recent, then it may be time to consult with their veterinarian. Underlying health or diet concerns could be the cause of the strong smell coming from your cat’s litter.

When in doubt, always go to the vet.

There is always a messy side to owning a pet, but even when our cat’s litter box starts to smell, we love them anyway. If you’re looking for more ways to enrich your cat’s life, we recommend leash training them as well as getting the perfect cat door for their lifestyle.

Check out this article to learn how to make cats happy indoors


  • Hi Emory,

    I think it’s a great idea to keep the litter box in your room for now while you still need to keep a close eye on your kitten.

    A great way to reduce the smell is to run an air purifier to keep the air smelling fresh. Also, scooping the litter box twice a day and giving it a deep clean once a week will help reduce the smell.

    I hope this answered your question and that you are having fun with your new kitten!

    Happy holidays!

    Elizabeth (Staff)
  • What if the only place you are comfortable with placing your litter box is your own room? I have a very small kitten and I’m scared of him chewing on something he shouldn’t, so while he is young we are keeping him under a close eye.

    Emory Musick

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