One of the best things about owning a cat (or two) is that they don’t have to be let outside to go to the bathroom like dogs do. Cleaning the waste from the box just takes only a few minutes a day. However, just cleaning out the waste and adding new litter is not enough to keep litterbox odors at bay.
We’ve all been to the house of the person who had that infamous “cat pee” odor. There’s nothing you can say to that person about the way their house smells without offending them. What’s even more embarrassing is… what if that person happens to be you? If you are unsure as to whether your house smells like cat urine, be sure to ask your closest friends and family. They are the ones that will give it to you straight (but hopefully, also be nice about it). If your house does happen to have that noxious odor, there are several things you can do to make sure that your cat’s litterbox is clean, fresh, and odor-free.
The first step is to clean the litterbox thoroughly. This means scraping down the sides of the box (I use a small pet food scoop that I bought at Wal-Mart for about $2). Make sure that all debris is gone from the bottom and sides of the box. Shake the box around to see if anything is stuck. Next, empty the entire box into a waste receptacle. I use two grocery bags, double-bagged so the odor and litter does not leak out. You should be left with an empty box with little to no litter residue.
If your cats are like mine, they bury to the absolute bottom of the box and pee all over the bottom. They also pee on the same spot over and over. This makes it very difficult to clean up as my clumping litter doesn’t clump if it’s trying to hold gallons of urine. This also translates to a wet litterbox bottom and a bad smell. If the bottom of your litterbox is wet after you clean it out completely, wipe it down with a paper towel before giving it a deep clean. Throw this towel out with the dirty litter.
There are several things you can do to clean your litterbox and get rid of odors. The first is to buy litterbox wipes. They have these by the cat litter in most supermarkets and pet stores. These are a quick (and non-toxic) way to clean up your cat’s litterbox. The downside to these wipes is that they are expensive. Some of these wipes also come with a citrus odor, and not many people know that citrus is a smell that cats cannot stand. If they don’t like the smell of their litterboxes, then they certainly won’t want to use them… which could mean they would go somewhere else in the house instead…
Another way to clean the litterbox is one that I do often. I put the box in the bathtub and fill it with hot water and anti-bacterial handsoap. Most of the time, it’s whatever seasonal scent Bath and Body Works handsoap I have in my bathroom. I also get cheap bath bombs (little balls made of baking soda and other ingredients that you dissolve in a hot bath and soak in… it’s a girl thing) and plunk one in the box and let it soak for about an hour. After the box has soaked, I rinse it out, wipe it down with paper towels, and bring it back to the laundry room. The box has a nice scent to it as I fill it with litter. But this is always short-lived because there is something about a clean litterbox that a cat just can’t resist.
You could just skip this entirely and buy a new litterbox if the one you have just smells too bad. Bear in mind that new litterboxes can be pricey. This is especially true if you have the covered kind (which are a godsend; they keep your cat from flinging litter all over the place and help to keep odors centralized).
There are also litterbox liners available at most supermarkets and pet stores. These work like trash bags; you line your cat’s litterbox and just tie it up and dump the whole thing when it’s dirty. There are a few problems with this option though; if your cat has claws, she could claw all the way through the liner. When you pick it up, that translates to litter all over the floor. Another problem is that these litterbox liners are not “one size fits all”. If you have a large litterbox, these liners just won’t cut it. You’d be better off using an actual trash bag.
Once your litterbox is clean and odor-free, this should translate into a better-smelling house for you. In order to facilitate getting rid of that “cat pee” smell, buy some plug-in air fresheners, scented oils, or candles. There are all kinds of odor-neutralizing products available and will greatly help remove that awful scent from your home.
Be sure to keep up with the cleaning of the box, as well. Try to do this at least once a month and remove waste from your cat’s litterbox every other day (if you have an extra large deep litterbox, remove waste at least twice a week). Keeping your cat’s box clean will also help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, which are life-threatening to kitties.