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June 1, 2021 |10 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

How to Control Litter Box Odor

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*Featured image curtesy of Litter-Robot.


Every cat parent knows that a stinky litter box is the worst part about having a cat. We love our fur babies, but their bathroom habits not so much. But, there are a few simple things you can do to control litter box odor and make this not-so-glamorous chore a little better. 

Just because you have a pet cat doesn’t mean that your home has to smell like one. Here, we share seven of our favorite tips for controlling litter box odor, from changing the way you scoop to making sure the kitty litter is as fresh as a daisy. 

7 Tips for Controlling Litter Box Odor

There’s no getting around it: your cat is going to use the litter box. But these 7 tips can help you control the litter box smell so when they go, you don’t scare your guests or family members away. 

Scoop the Litter Box Every Day 

Of course, the best thing you can do to control unpleasant odors is to scoop the box as frequently as possible. Most cat experts recommend scooping the litter box at least once a day, but if you have multiple cats you may need to do it more frequently. In fact, one of the best ways to control litter box smell is to scoop the waste as soon as your cat goes. That way, the odor has less time to linger. 

Another tip when scooping the litter box is to get every piece, even if they’re super small. Those super small pieces that fall apart from the clump of litter can end up smelling because they sit in the litter box longer. If you’re not a fan of clumping litter, crystal litter makes it easier to scoop the box because you only have to scoop out the poop, not the pee. When your cat goes pee, you simply mix up the crystals cat litter and let them do all the work of absorbing the odor. When you only have to scoop a few #2s, it makes it much easier to stay on top of odor control.

Clean the Litter Box Itself Once a Month

Not only should you scoop the waste out of the litter box at least once a day, but you should also completely change out the litter itself once a month. Even if you’re scooping out the waste regularly, particles can still get stuck in the litter and if you don’t change it out once a month, those small particles can end up producing extremely unpleasant odors and could influence your cat to start exhibiting litter box problems

Not sure when you should completely dump the litter and put fresh litter in? A litter delivery service makes it easy to stay on schedule because they send you the right amount of kitty litter every month. That way, when your shipment comes you know it’s time to completely change out the litter. 

Replace the Litter Box Once a Year 

Did you know that to really control litter box odor, you should replace the actual litter box about once a year? This is especially the case with plastic litter boxes because as your cat scratches them, they can get tiny cracks and these cracks can harbor odor-causing bacteria. Because of this, we recommend replacing your actual litter box about once a year, especially if you’ve done everything you can to control the litter box odor and are still noticing smells. 

How to Find the Perfect Litter Box

Ready to replace your cat’s litter box with a nice, new one? Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure you find the perfect litter box for your kitty:

  • Make sure the litter box is big enough. It should be big enough for your cat to comfortably turn around in and have enough space to bury its waste. If the litter box is too small, your cat won’t want to use it which could lead to more bathroom issues. 
  • Consider whether or not your cat prefers a covered litter box. Some cat parents try covered litter boxes to keep the litter in, but some cats feel trapped and enclosed in a covered litter box and may not want to use it. The best kind of litter box is the one your cat enjoys using!
  • Put the litter box in a quiet place away from their food, water, and any foot traffic. Read more about where to put your litter box!

Have Enough Litter Boxes 

Having enough litter boxes for the number of cats you have is key to maintaining and controlling litter box odor. Cats are very territorial and might not like going to the bathroom where another cat has gone, so the Golden Rule is to have one more litter box than you have cats. For example, if you have two cats you should have three litter boxes. 

This also helps control litter box odor because your cats will have a choice of where to go and won’t all congregate into one litter box. Having enough litter boxes combined with scooping them every day is the perfect combination for keeping the litter boxes clean and fresh.

Open the Window

Most cat owners might be tempted to stuff the litter box back away in a forgotten corner, but if you put your litter box in a well-ventilated area, this can actually help air out the space and control litter box odor. For example, your cat might enjoy using a litter box that is in a bathroom with a window. That way, you can open the window if things get a little smelly in there. 

Use a Litter Deodorizer 

Litter deodorizers are great for neutralizing and controlling litter box odor and they are easy and safe to use. Most litter deodorizers are made with baking soda and can help keep your cat’s litter smelling fresher for longer. They come in different forms, including sprays and powders. For example, here is a litter deodorizing spray and a litter deodorizing powder from Arm and Hammer!

One thing to remember when using a litter deodorizer is to not use too much because some cats can be sensitive to smells and might not want to use the litter box if there is too much fragrance. Just a light sprinkle or spray of the litter deodorizer here should do the trick. 

Feed Your Cat a Healthy Diet 

Lastly, the best thing you can do to control litter box odors and keep your cat healthy is to feed them a high-quality, protein-rich diet that’s easy for them to digest. Too often, stinky waste in the litter box is caused by a poor diet because grain-filled foods with tons of fillers and preservatives are hard for our kitties to digest. 

Instead, switch your feline friend to an adult cat food that lists a high-quality protein source as the first ingredient. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need to get the majority of their calories from animal protein. 

Too many cat foods on the market today sub out these proteins for grains and fillers to keep costs down. When looking at the ingredient list on your cat’s food, look for whole proteins like chicken, fish, beef, or duck, and keep your eyes out for fillers like corn, gluten meal, or wheat. 

If there are carbohydrates in the food, they should be complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, peas, or vegetables. For example, our PrettyPlease cat food has top choice chicken, kelp, rosemary, a plethora of delectable vegetables, and a host of feline nutritionist-designed ingredients formulated to keep cats optimally healthy, energetic, strong, and living long.

After a few weeks of feeding your cat a high-quality diet, you may notice that they go #2 less (because their bodies are optimizing all those nutrients) and that their waste is less smelly.

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Of course, no cat owner enjoys having litter boxes in their homes, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be smelly and take up our lives and noses. These seven steps are designed to help you control litter box odors from the source. Feeding your cat a healthy diet may mean that they go to the bathroom less and when they go, it doesn’t smell as bad. 

In addition to feeding your cat the food they deserve, you should also regularly scoop the litter box (at least once a day). Some cat owners will even scoop the box right after their kitty goes to prevent any foul odor from setting in!

You should also get into the habit of completely changing the litter out once a month to make sure you get every little bit of waste out. Our cat litter subscription service makes it easy to get a month’s worth of litter delivered to your doorstep at just the right time. 






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Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


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Sara Ochoa

Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George's University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.