A Multifaceted Guide on How to Get Rid of Cat Odor in a House

Can I talk to my cat

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Who doesn’t love cats? (Introduction)


Our feline friends have been pets to the rich and powerful for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods, while Presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton have seen cats call the White House home.

From the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to the Franchette in Colette’s Claudine novels to Behemoth in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, literature is littered with felines. Colette was a huge cat lover in real life, as were authors as various as Emily Bronte, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway.

Cats exude personality, making them a natural favorite of rulers and authors alike. Unfortunately, “personality” isn’t all cats “exude.” Anyone who has ever had a cat knows that for all their preening and grooming, cats can work up a stench. Cat stains and odors have a way of clinging to surfaces, leaving a lingering stink for days or weeks, or longer still.

What’s worse, in addition to smelly and unsanitary cat stains, cat dander can likewise linger, creating a sneeze-laden nightmare – especially for those with allergies.

You love your cat, but don’t exactly love this more odiferous side of them, nor the prospect of breathing in cat dander on a daily basis.


Here to help, then, is a guide on how to get rid of cat odor in a house.


Identify the Problem Area of that cat odor


The first step in addressing any problem is admitting that you have one in the first place. Now that you’ve made peace with the fact that, yes, your home smells just a bit too much like a litter box, the second step is trying to identify the source. One of the most annoying things about cat odor – and pet odor in general – is the fact that it can sometimes be both forcefully present and frustratingly elusive.

You know one or more rooms in your home reek of cat odor. You know it’s your cat that’s responsible. But where is the smell in question coming from?

Unless you opt for a more drastic option such as deodorizing your whole house, you’re going to need to pin down the problem spot in question.

It can, unfortunately, be all too possible to smell a problem area before you can see it.


Making Sure It’s Nothing Serious


Having identified the problem area, it’s worth pausing briefly to consider a bit of cat care. While thinking about the best way to deodorize the area in question, you are also going to want to make sure that your cat is okay. Most of the time a stain is just a stain, but sometimes excessive peeing irregular stool, or other unsavory cat leavings can indicate a larger medical problem.

While cat odor and stains on their own aren’t likely a problem, if the issue persists or is paired with other troubling symptoms or irregularities in your cat’s behavior, you’ll want to ask a vet for help.


Change Your Cat’s Diet


If you have ever had a bit of dietary trouble yourself, you know how it can lead to unfortunate odors.

Upset stomachs can indeed be quite upsetting, whether it’s you or your pet suffering from them. You would want a bit of compassion while struggling with the physical and emotional discomfort that can come from struggling with a gastrointestinal problem.

The same holds true for your cat. There is every possibility that your pet recognizes the fact that it smells and knows that something is wrong with its stomach.

If this is indeed the issue, changing your cat’s diet can help with everything from digestion to fur to odor.


Diet and Odor


Of course, realizing that your car may be in need of a new diet is one thing. Actually making the necessary changes is quite another. After all, it’s easier to realize that your cat’s odor problem may be rooted in digestive issues than to solve the problem.

This is definitely an issue you’ll want to address with the help of your veterinarian. Your vet can order tests that can confirm your hypothesis. If he or she does rule that your cat’s foul odor is due to digestive issues, your vet will help you devise a new dietary plan. This new diet will be tailored to address your cat’s particular dietary issue, reducing the causes of inflammation.

What’s more, if the cause of your cat’s foul odor is gas due to a condition such as this, IBD medication for cats can help.


Change Litter the Box



Then again, maybe the issue of your cat’s odor has less to do with your cat’s diet and gastrointestinal issues than it is the result of a foul litter box. If this is the case, the path forward should seem clear – you need to clean out that litter box.

That said, simply scooping out waste and replacing it with new litter isn’t always enough. There are certain techniques that you can employ to remove waste more efficiently.

For one thing, you want to make sure that when you change your cat’s litter box, you change it completely. Half measures simply won’t cut it. Even if it doesn’t “look” like your cat has “used” much of the litter, you still want to cycle it out. Your cat might have used it without your noticing.

What’s more, a foul litter box can make your cat uneasy about using it. After all, you wouldn’t want to go to the bathroom while sitting atop a filthy toilet, would you? Neither does your cat, so your cat might reject foul litter boxes. This, in turn, can cause your pet to relieve itself on carpeting, bedding, and other areas, which is one way that cat odor can spread.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of cat odor in a house, therefore, changing the litter box is an early step to take.


Change the Type of Litter



If you have changed your cat’s litter box time and again, it may be time to change the litter type altogether. This can be an idea that may strike some new cat owners as a novel. Isn’t litter just, well, litter? As a matter of fact, there are many different types of litter, and the kind you choose can have a major impact on your cat’s comfort level – and the odor of the litter box.

For example, certain clay-based types of litter are commonly thought to be more comfortable for cats. Even better, these types of litter can be eco-friendlier than their more synthetic counterparts. As such, if you are looking for a way to remove cat odor and freshen your home at the same time, here’s one way to do it.


Get the right litter that suits your cat




However, the biggest advantage that clay litter poses for our purposes is its innate odor-blocking capabilities. This is in contrast to other types of litter, or even more basic makeshift solutions such as old newspapers. These, obviously, do not have odor-blocking capabilities. When your cat relieves itself, these materials soak up and retain the waste as well as the odor.

What’s more, while the clay is able to block foul odor better than other types of litter, it can do so without emitting its own overpowering scent. Cats typically don’t care for strongly-scented litter boxes. They want a place that smells “clean.” Clay is a perfect fit in this regard, smelling “clean” to cats while blocking their odor for us humans.

As such, if your cat currently seems a bit uneasy with the type of litter you are using at present, you may want to try these.


Relocate the Litter Box to an Open Area


Even if you have the cleanest litter for your litter box imaginable, litter boxes can still emit foul cat odor. How is this possible? One word – ventilation.

Or, rather, a lack thereof. The more you close off space, the more that space will be unable to circulate in the fresh air. This, in turn, traps it with the air supply at hand. Since that air supply hasn’t been circulated, it can start to smell fetid and un-fresh.

And that’s before factoring in the fact that the air we’re talking about is filled with the odor of cat waste.

As such, you always want to make sure that your cat’s litter box is well-ventilated. The same is true of the room in which it is placed. Of course, placing a litter box in a ventilated room raises the question –

What about when the smell wafts from one room to another?

Don’t worry, we’ll address how to combat that in a bit

For now, open area litter boxes are vital in figuring out how to get rid of cat odor in a house.


Remove Closed Litter Boxes



A closely related idea is to ditch closed litter boxes in favor of ones with open tops or no tops at all. The idea behind this is simple, and it is directly related to those espoused above. When you trap an air supply, it can start to feel fetid and un-fresh. Do so within an area containing waste, like a litter box, and it can become truly rank.

This relates back to an earlier point we established, namely, that cats don’t like going to the bathroom in foul-smelling places. Who does? You probably aren’t thrilled to use public restrooms when they’re particularly filthy and foul-smelling.

Part of the reason that they smell so much isn’t just the degree of usage or unwashed state, but their enclosed nature. Your bathroom at home is typically a bit better ventilated than a public restroom. You employ means to clean and ventilate your bathroom that public restrooms do not possess. Instead, they are closed off as much as possible, trapping odors inside.

The same holds true of your cat’s litter box. Your cat, understandably, won’t want to use a litter box that smells like a public urinal. What’s more, you won’t want something like that emitting foul cat odor in your home.

You thus want to be sure to opt for litter boxes that are open and thus can allow for greater circulation and ventilation.


Use Kitty Deodorizers


So, you have tried all of these different methods, and your cat’s litter box still reeks to high heaven.

What next?

Welcome to the wide world of kitty litter box deodorizers.


This is something that you might well have already stumbled upon yourself while looking for different types of litter. When shopping for different litter materials, you’ll find that some come with deodorizing options. These can be everything from solutions to pellets that are mixed in with the litter.

As stated, part of what makes clay a great option when it comes to litter is its odor-blocking capability. If this is not enough, however, you’ll need to turn to actively deodorizing the cat scent in question.

This rubs up against the aforementioned problem of cats not liking strong scents near their cat litter. This can leave you with a Cat Catch-22 – needing a deodorizer that’s odor is strong enough to mask cat odor while mild enough not to be odiferous to your cat.

Sound problematic? It actually doesn’t have to be. For as challenging a balance as that would seem, there are many deodorizing options that do this admirably.


Deodorizers or not?


One question you will have to tackle is whether you want the deodorizer in question to be mixed in with the litter itself or arranged beside it. The differing approaches here are obvious. Mix the deodorizing agent in with the litter, and it can deodorize at the source, but its scent may put off your cat. Place it around the litter box instead, and your cat may better tolerate it, but masking the odor may become more difficult.

There is no solution here. Every cat, litter box, room, and deodorizing agent is different. You simply have to play with these different variables until you find the combination that works for you. Thankfully, however, once you figure out that sweet spot, there’s a good chance your cat odor problems may be over. This is thus one of the most effective solutions on how to get rid of cat odor in a house.


Use Air Fresheners with Odor Destroying Mixtures



Maybe you’ve already tried deodorizers, but you still need something more. Maybe you haven’t used deodorizers because the odor isn’t coming from a litter box or one or two other sites, but is more omnipresent throughout a space. If so, you’re going to want to consider using air fresheners to make up the difference.

Now, air fresheners are not typically designed with the express purpose of eliminating cat odor. As such, they are not designed with cats in mind. This raises at least two key factors which, while not exclusionary, need to be addressed lest they become a problem.

First, we once more rub up against that old issue of cats not liking strong odors in places they use as toilets. This is, of course, directly opposed to what many air fresheners are and why we like them. That strong cinnamon, lemony, or floral scent may be sweet to us, but if it’s too strong, it can be off-putting for your cat.


Cats and that pee odor


It can be tempting to simply respond with “I don’t care, it’s my house!” (To which any cat owner might smirk knowingly – it’s your cat’s world, and we’re all just living in it.) But even if you’ve had it up to here with catering to your cat, there are reasonable reasons to defer. You can’t get rid of the cat odor if they continue peeing indiscriminately, which they’ll do if strong odors put them off their litter box.

In addition, air fresheners aren’t the same as deodorizers. They effectively perfume the air but don’t cleanse it. The difference between eliminating and merely masking something is that if that mask drops, you’re left with the ugly reality once again. (Just ask the Phantom of the Opera.)

With these factors in mind, you’ll want to be careful about using air fresheners to combat cat odor. They can be a good way to make the space smell sweeter in the short term (especially after your cat’s “done the deed”). In the long-term, however, you are probably going to want to use other options on this list.



Carbon Litter Box Liners


One way to combat cat odor in the long term is to line the litter box with odor eaters that aren’t offensive to your cat. Carbon liners can be a simple answer here. They aren’t as potent as other options on this list, and they aren’t meant to be. Rather, they are mild, inexpensive, easy to use a litter box, odor eaters.

What’s more, some litter boxes feature slots where you can easily place these liners.

Carbon liners may not be the final step when it comes to figuring out how to get rid of cat odor in a house. However, they can be a great first step in the right direction if others above have failed you.


Baking Soda Solutions


One of the most common steps for battling pet odor in general and stains, in particular, has long been baking soda. For dog and cat owners alike, baking soda is an inexpensive way of breaking down stains. This can, in turn, make it easier to deodorize the area.  If your cat odor problem has less to do with litter boxes and more to do with stains, this is a great go-to option to try.


Remove Urine Stains


If your cat odor problem is indeed due more to stains than litter box woes, you’ll naturally want to eliminate those stains by any means necessary. There are, thankfully, several ways to do this.

Some people choose to follow the all-natural route and look for organic solutions to the problem of cat odor. If this is you, there are a wide variety of options out there using herbs, fruits, and other organic items for this purpose. If you prefer something a bit more directly-manufactured for this task, there are many effective pet stain cleaning agents.


Enzymatic Cleaners


One popular solution is an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaning agents make use of chemicals that react with organic materials on an enzymatic level. This makes them especially effective at eliminating pet stains as well as odor.


Air Purifiers


As stated above, it is vital to keep your litter box well-ventilated. But what about the issue of cat odor then wafting from the site of the litter box throughout the home? What about cat dander doing so, for that matter? We haven’t talked much about dander thus far, but it can be a major problem odor and allergy-wise.

Both of these factors can be tackled with quality air purifiers. These units are becoming more popular among homeowners, and with good reason. The top models are exceptionally good at filtering out unwanted air pollutants and causes of foul odor. This, naturally, includes dander and cat odor.

You’ll thus want to use these in conjunction with the means for ventilating litter boxes and rooms used by your cat. If you are still trying to determine how to get rid of cat odor in a house, this can prove one of the most effective combo solutions.


Cat Wipes


Last but not least, let’s talk about your cat’s fur for a second.

After all, you may have employed many of the aforementioned methods, but if your cat’s fur still stinks, guess what? You still have a cat odor problem. If your cat’s fur is the cause of your cat odor woes, and a bath or other conventional means won’t cut it, cat wipes might.

These are, as the name would imply, special wipes for wiping down your cat’s fur. They are designed to not smell bad to your cat or irritate its skin. If smelly cat fur is proving to be the bane of your existence, cat wipes are well worth a try.

There are many ways to combat cat odor, depending on the nature of your cat and the odor in question. When it comes to the question of how to get rid of cat odor in a house, there is not just one right answer. Simply keep trying the different options listed here, mixing and matching for the best solutions. Eventually, you’ll hit upon a solution that’ll have you, your cat, and your home smelling like a rose.


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