Four Tips for Fresh Cat Boxes

These cat litterbox solutions can keep your home neat and clean

By Kristina Lotz

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Himalayan cat in front of litterbox -- Four Tips for Fresh Cat Boxs
What's causing that smell? Cover your litterbox or find a furniture concealer for the cat box to tuck into.
Cat litter statistics
Among visitors, clumping cat litter reigns.
You see it every time you invite your friends over for dinner. They look at each other furtively and then quickly suggest you go out instead. Your boyfriend insists on always going to his house, claiming his TV is nicer. Deep down, you know the real culprit: cat litterbox odor.

They're not cat people, you try to justify to yourself. But, look: Even if someone is a cat person, they don't want to visit a cat outhouse! There is nothing worse than having a freshly baked cake on the counter, and all you smell is your cat. Try these simple tips to control the odor and regain your sense of dignity, before the boyfriend finds a girl who's allergic to cats.

Tip 1: The Box
Covered boxes keep the odor contained. I personally like top-entry litterboxes because they help reduce the amount of cat litter that gets spread everywhere, control odor and keep my dog from eating at the kitty buffet. Both of my cats were older rescues when I got them, so I believe any cat can learn how to use one of these litterboxes.

Sara from the Irvine Animal Care Center, an animal shelter in Irvine, Calif., recommends scooping the litterbox once or twice a day, to really keep odor down. Every couple of weeks, completely scrub the litterbox to keep the container from absorbing odors and to kill germs.

Tip 2: Location
How many evenings have you had ruined because there you are, sitting on the couch cuddling with your honey, who suddenly sees (and smells) the cat box sitting right next to the couch? Talk about a mood killer!

Nowadays, you can find all kinds of mod-type boxes as well as cat litterbox hiders that conceal the box inside a cabinet, side table, etc. As a bonus, these help contain litterbox odor. Regardless of the box, a well ventilated area also helps prevent lingering cat odors.

Tip 3: The Litter
Think of litter as your cat's toilet paper. If it doesn't have the right texture and absorbency, it won't do its job.

According to Janene, Zakrajsek, owner of pet boutique Pussy & Pooch in Southern California, a premium clay-based cat litter with activated charcoal is absolutely supreme at odor control. In the green category, she recommends a pine litter.

Sara puts baking soda in her cats' boxes for extra odor control. Janene adds, “I have found that crumbling activated charcoal (found in the aquarium section of a pet store) into the litter is effective at reducing strong ammonia odors.”

Sara reminds us to change cat litter slowly, by mixing your kitty's current litter with the new, just as you would their food, in order to avoid your cats' refusing to use the litterbox.

Tip 4: Diet
What goes in must go out, right? So it only stands to reason that if you are feeding your cat junk, junk will come out. Compare it to you eating four corndogs at the fair. Not pleasant! The better the diet, the less waste and odor your cat will make. Less waste means less clean-up and less litter, so that's an added perk. In addition, better food means you cat's health be better and she will need less trips the cat vet. Clearly, better food more than pays for itself over time.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to have your cake with friends, and smell it too.

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Reader Comments

Karen    Chandler, AZ

8/4/2011 7:28:28 PM

I use the big 30-34 gal plastic storage containers with lids for my litter boxes. (You could use a smaller size if it works for your cats). Just cut a cat size hole in the side or end with a utility knife (be careful!-- and leave about a 5 inch lip at the bottom). The side of the 34 gal one is 20 inches high which is great for my cats that stand up during their peeing and blast it straight back. I have 5 cats, and since the containers are practically the eqivalent of 2 regular size litter boxes, it seems to give them enough space. These are relatively cheap especially if you get them on sale.

Mario    Phoenix, AZ

8/4/2011 5:16:44 PM

I just changed out my cat's litter box. Even with constant cleaning. It still retained that awful odor. I didn't want to use deoderizers or that would affend the cat. I bought a new box & it's a world of difference (the old box was 8 yrs. old!). Now, I swear,she smiles!

Marcia    Alexandria, VA

8/4/2011 2:20:16 PM

I have a cat that is 2 yrs old that lifts her butt up while she pees. This only happens once to twice a week. Other times she pees inside the box. Can you recommend any high side boxes. The one I have is 12 inches high, but she seems to aim high with this height. Do you know why she would do this?

Linda    Medford, MA

8/4/2011 1:25:19 PM

Yes, it is true about baking soda. i put it in his box to bring down the odor. i will pick up some charcoal and also try that too. he is fixed and indoor cat. We also put him on dry cat food that is called "Blue". It might cost more but it is worth it. Doesn't go to the bathroom that much. That is real good dry cat food. People try it.

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