Best Cat Litter For Odor

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Cats are clean animals. They spend lots of time cleaning and grooming themselves and prefer clean environments. Unfortunately, their litter box smell can be difficult for pet parents and even cats themselves to deal with from time to time. Many cats are picky about their litter boxes and may even urinate or defecate outside the litter box when it’s too smelly or dirty. Meanwhile, you don’t want the litter box smell stinking up your home daily. Therefore, it is essential to look for the best cat litter for odor control and dust-free cleanliness. 

Luckily, several available cat litters on the market can help. However, every cat is different, and if you don’t find your cat a litter they like, they may choose to avoid the litter box altogether. As a pet parent, it’s up to you to find a happy medium—the best cat litter for odor that your cat likes or at least one they tolerate. 

What Is Cat Litter?

Even though house cats are domestic animals, their potty habits date back to their wild ancestors. All domesticated cats are descendants of the North African and Southwest Asian wildcat, which lived in dry, arid areas.1 Like humans, dogs, and other animals, cats have an instinctive behavior to urinate and defecate away from their living areas. They also bury their waste to hide the smell from predators. 

Cats prefer to use soft, sandy soil to easily bury their waste in the wild. Cat litter is sandy and grainy to simulate the same experience of elimination in the wild, allowing cats to easily hide their feces and urine from predators. However, cat litter absorbs moisture and odors in several different ways. While your indoor cat no longer has to worry about predators, they still have the habit of burying their feces. In addition, pet parents want to eliminate the odor to prevent lingering smells. 

Cat litter is typically made of several materials, such as clay, minerals, and other materials, to allow casts to bury their waste while reducing cat odor in the home. 

Types of Cat Litter

Types of cat litter 

When looking for cat litter, you have options. However, since cats can be picky about where they defecate, you may have to experiment to find the best cat litter for odor and one your cat will use. A few of your options include: 

  • Non-clumping clay litter: Non-clumping cat litter is an inexpensive option made from clay. It’s made from porous clay with cavities to absorb liquid and remove odors. Unfortunately, non-clumping cat litter is difficult to clean because it doesn’t clump to the urine or feces.2
  • Clumping clay litter: Like non-clumping litter, clumping litter is often made from clay. However, these litters are designed to help pet parents remove urine and feces from the box without cleaning the entire box.2 Instead, they contain bentonite, allowing the litter to bind to moist particles from urine and feces. Clumping clay litter is the best cat litter for odor control that’s dust-free for any budget. However, there may be better options if you’re willing to spend a little more on your cat’s litter. 
  • Silica gel litter: Silica gel litter is one of the best odor-control cat litter available because it’s made from porous silicon dioxide, which has high absorbency and moisture control to eliminate odors. Of course, this option is more expensive than regular clay litter, but it’s well worth it if you’re worried about litter box odor in your home.
  • Biodegradable litter: Biodegradable litter is made from plant resources like pine wood pellets, recycled newspapers, sawdust, corn, wheat, and more. While pine pellets are cheap, biodegradable litter tends to be more expensive. However, it can benefit cats with asthma because some brands offer reduced dust since the materials are solid. 

What Causes Litter Box Odor?

There are several causes of litter box odor. Of course, urine and feces naturally have an unpleasant odor. Urine comprises several compounds, including urea, creatine, uric acid, and other substances. When your cat urinates in their litter box, you likely won’t smell it because of the odor-eliminating materials in the litter itself. However, if your cat sprays on your furniture or has an accident on your carpet, you’ll likely smell it if you walk into the room. This is because bacteria decompose the compounds in cat urine to give off the well-known cat urine odor. The longer the urine sits without being treated, the more it decomposes, emitting compounds that worsen the smell.3 

Litter box odor is caused by decomposing urea, which has a distinct ammonia smell

In addition, urine odor changes over time. Older cats have an increased chance of underlying health conditions, like urinary infections that make urine smell worse. In addition, urine from intact male cats smells worse because it contains steroids and pheromones.

If you have a dog and a cat, you may notice your cat’s urine smell is much stronger. Cats have concentrated urine with less water in it and more waste. Again, this leads back to their ancestors from arid climates whose bodies evolved to absorb larger concentrations of water, resulting in more concentrated urine. Therefore, leaving your cat’s litter box uncleaned for a long period will worsen the smell, especially as it decomposes. 

Of course, there are other causes for cat litter box odor. For example, cat diarrhea can cause a different odor than regular cat feces, potentially indicating a serious health issue. Meanwhile, if you notice bloody cat stool, it may also have a different smell, depending on the underlying cause. Other GI issues that can cause litter box odor include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), parasitic infections like giardia, and bacterial infections. Cat nutrition also plays a role in litter box odor. For example, when your cat eats something that doesn’t agree with them, they may have stronger-smelling feces. 

It’s important to know your cat’s regular litter box habits and what their urine and feces typically look like to help you catch any potential health problems early on. If you notice a change in your cat’s elimination, it may alert you to the presence of an underlying health condition that could benefit from early treatment. Additionally, pet owners can purchase litter additives which change the color of the litter based on the health of your cat’s urine, helping detect health issues sooner.

Best Odor Control Cat Litter

What is the best cat litter for odor? There are several options on the market for the best cat litter for odor control. However, cats can be picky, so you must find one your cat will be willing to use. Scented, clumping, and odor-neutralizing litters with carbon or silica may be the best option for odor control. However, cats have sensitive noses, so cat litter that’s too fragrant may deter your cat from using their litter box.

Unfortunately, no cat litter for odor control will do your chores for you. If you truly want to reduce or eliminate cat odor in your home, you must clean your cat’s litter box and replace their litter regularly. Many cat litters contain materials that can help mask or reduce odors, but if you leave feces or urine in the litter box for too long, it will eventually smell. You should scoop your cat’s waste daily and replace the litter at least once a week with standard clay litter. However, you should replace the litter more often if you have multiple cats. 

How To Keep Your Cat’s Litter Box Clean And Fresh

Ways to minimize litter box odor

As we’ve mentioned, no cat litter can completely eliminate smells if you’re not keeping the litter box clean regularly. Maintaining your cat’s litter box is crucial and can help your odor-control litter be more effective. In addition, you could try a covered litter box to maintain the smell, but if you’re not keeping your cat’s litter box clean, the odor will still escape. Additionally, some cats prefer uncovered boxes as covered boxes contain odors within the unit, making it a less comfortable experience for your cat. Ultimately, the best litter box for your cat is one that they will use comfortably.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your cat’s litter box clean and fresh:

Scoop Litter Daily

Scooping droppings and clumps daily will help to remove urine and feces before they start to smell. 

Change Litter Weekly

It’s not enough to scoop your cat’s urine and feces daily. Removing old litter and replacing it with new, clean litter weekly can keep your cat’s litter box fresh to prevent lingering odors. 

Clean The Litter Box And Surrounding Area Monthly

Of course, no litter is perfect. While litter will help absorb moisture and reduce odors, urine can end up on the bottom of the litter box, where it can decompose and cause lingering odor. Therefore, you should clean your cat’s litter box with mild soap and water every month. Of course, avoid harsh chemicals because cats don’t like strong odors. In addition to cleaning the litter box, you should clean the surrounding area monthly to remove dust and debris from old litter. 

Best Cat Litter For Odor: FAQs

Where is the best place to keep a litter box?

The best place to keep a litter box depends on your cat and the layout of your home. Most cats prefer privacy, so keeping the litter box out of high-traffic areas is best. Instead, consider easy-to-reach, quiet corners where they can do their business in peace. While putting your cat’s litter box in a closet might be tempting, you should never put it anywhere that may become inaccessible to your cat, especially in areas that may lack light or proper ventilation. 

You should also consider areas where your cat feels most comfortable. For example, if your cat doesn’t spend time in the guest bedroom, that may not be the best place for their litter box. 

How do I control the cat smell in my house?

To remove cat urine odors in your home, you must determine the source. While litter box odors are fairly common, especially if you’re using cheap litter, your cat may urinate elsewhere in the home. You can use a blacklight to look for old urine stains and use an enzymatic cleaner to remove the stain and odor while deterring your cat from urinating in that spot again.

If your cat continues to urinate outside their litter box, consider seeking advice from a veterinarian. 

Can I put baking soda in cat litter?

Many pet parents add baking soda to their cat’s litter to reduce and eliminate odors while absorbing urine. When used properly, baking soda in cat litter is safe. However, since baking soda is a fine powder, it can irritate your cat’s respiratory system, which can make their litter box experience unpleasant. In addition, it can create extra litter box dust. Therefore, while baking soda is safe to use in litter, it’s not recommended, especially since there are more effective and safe alternatives. 

Kitten sitting in a litter box

Final Notes

The best cat litter for odor control will depend on your budget and overall needs. Many affordable cat litters effectively reduce or even eliminate urine and feces odors. However, no litter is perfect, and you’ll still have to change your cat’s litter and clean the litter box regularly. Also, if your cat’s litter box odor has worsened over time, it may indicate a health issue. 

Since many underlying health issues can cause a change in your cat’s litter box habits, including the size, smell, shape, and consistency of their feces and urine, it’s important to know your cat’s baseline. Cleaning the litter box allows you to examine your cat’s health through their urine and feces. If you notice a change in odor, it may warrant a call to the vet. Dutch telemedicine for pets can help you find the right pet products for your cat and diagnose and treat health conditions that cause smelly cat feces and urine. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. “How Did Cats Become Domesticated?” The Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/zoology/item/how-did-cats-become-domesticated.

  2. “What Is the Best Cat Litter? Non-Clumping vs. Clumping Litter.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/litter/evr_ct_clumping-versus-non-clumping-cat-litter.

  3. “Why Does Cat Urine Smell so Bad and What Can I Do About It?” Office for Science and Society, 24 July 2017, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/you-asked/why-does-cat-urine-smell-so-bad-and-what-can-i-do-about-it.

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