No Cat Pee Smell Litter Box - Does it exist?
December 24, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Okay, sorry for this gross question I am about to lay on you. I clean my cats' litter box on a pretty regular basis, scooping it daily (okay, almost daily) and then washing it down when needed. It is large size. What I am finding is the cat claw scrapes go down to the base and it's like the cat pee seeps down into the actual plastic of the box and just makes the box permanently stinky. I tried litter liners and it was a disaster - they ripped them to shreds and it was just extra mess to clean up. Does there exist like a stainless steel litter box base or that material they make space ships out of or something?
posted by mermily to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Get the Breeze litter system.

It does not smell and the pee all falls onto a pad that is below a grate and cannot be torn up.
posted by munyeca at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

my suggestion is to get the pee away from them - which is easier than it sounds! switch to the tidy cat breeze litter box. pee goes through a grate and into a pad (like puppy pee pads or a diaper) that you change once a week. you change the pellets on top of the grate once a month. it reduces the smell by a lot and it reduces what you have to scoop out. it is more expensive than just a litter tray and clumping litter, but i think it's entirely worth it.
posted by nadawi at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2013

You could check a restaurant supply store for steel dish pans, and there is also such a thing as disposable litter boxes.
posted by kmennie at 8:30 AM on December 24, 2013

Restaurant supply stores have stainless steel boxes/trays of various sizes which are used on steam tables/serving areas. Some are large enough and deep enough for litter box use. They are pricey when new but often considerably less if used. Try this.
posted by uncaken at 8:31 AM on December 24, 2013

Are you using clumping litter? I use clumping litter and clean the box twice a day and we do not have odor issues.
posted by something something at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

What about a sifting litter box? There would be less plastic on the bottom for the kitties to scratch. I guess that doesn't help the sides.

Also, maybe the cats' claws should be more frequently trimmed? My cats scratch their box, as all cats do, but their claws can't do much damage, since they're not that sharp.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2013

The Cat Genie is initially expensive ($250ish), but after that, only $5/month per cat. No buying and hauling heavy bags of litter ever again. Not for everyone, but we love it.
posted by ravioli at 8:53 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thirding Breeze. We have no pee smell, although there is occasional poo smell. We recommend taking the box outside every so often and hosing it down to get residual stuff off, but other than that, it's reasonably easy to use. Our setup. The puppy pads in the front are because one of our cats likes to perch on the edge of the box and doesn't aim very well.

My coworker's opinion of the Cat Genie is that it's fantastic until it breaks, whereupon you have to reach into really foul water to fix the clog.
posted by telophase at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2013

You can use any liquid holding container of sufficient size as a cat litter box. I use a lidless 18 gallon storage tub filled with 5-7" of litter and none of my cats are able to dig deep enough to reach the bottom (the depth of the sand collapses the hole as they dig) nor kick any litter out.

However, it sounds like you have more than one cat but only one litter box that is sometimes scooped only once daily. This is the primary contributing factor to the smell, the more urine that is already bound up by in the litter, the less litter there is available to absorb incoming urine. Try adding a box per cat +1 extra. If you don't have space for that many boxes, then you'll either have to up your scooping frequency (at least 2x day without fail) or get an automated box. I have a Litter-Robot. It works great, uses any brand of clumping litter, does not require special refills and is on its 5th year of service, however it is huge and looks like a cat poop Death Star.
posted by jamaro at 9:01 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you've got the space, a mortar mixing tray from one of the big home improvement stores makes a great litter box. A small one holds 40-60 lbs of litter, a big one will go 60-80 no sweat. More litter means quicker desiccation, better burying, and harder to dig through the litter to the plastic if you keep it fairly full.
posted by wotsac at 9:24 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My cat uses a HD plastic concrete mixing tub from the local big box hardware chain. The medium size is about 1.7x the size of a normal litter box. The inside is flat, smooth with rounded corners which makes scooping and cleaning really easy.
posted by klarck at 9:26 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

On preview, what wotsac said.
posted by klarck at 9:28 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't do this, but there are folks online who report success using aluminum pans of the sort used for buffets (which I think generally go into a steel-wire support to give them more structure than they'd have otherwise) and periodically replacing the aluminum pan when it becomes heavily damaged. They seem a bit small though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:38 AM on December 24, 2013

Coming in to +1 a mortar or concrete mixing tub as mentioned upthread. Combined with this brand of silica gel litter, it has pretty much ended ordinary litter box smells. The only time there's an odor issue if kitty decides not to cover their poops (because the box isn't quite clean enough to suit their expectations at the moment).
posted by fuse theorem at 9:59 AM on December 24, 2013

My wife and I bought the Cat Genie last year for our two cats, and we both love it. No scooping litter, no smell, and easy to maintain.
posted by Telpethoron at 10:08 AM on December 24, 2013

If you're using a standard shallow litter tray, you're doing it the hard way. What you need is a large plastic tub maybe eight inches deep, which you fill to about six inches with wood-based clumping litter.

This makes a layer of litter deep enough that the clump around even the most epic pee will never extend all the way to the bottom of the tray, and being wood-based it binds the ammonia that forms as the pee breaks down and totally doesn't stink.

To clean the tray, just scoop out the turds and clumps with a slotted scoop every day or three. There's no need to do regular full-tray litter changes as you would when using a non-clumping litter, as anything that's been in contact with excreta sticks to it and gets scooped away with it. Wood-based litter is compostable; we used to dispose of our clumps by burying them under the pinebark mulch around the shrubs in the back yard (turds got flushed - they smell bad).

When the litter level has dropped an inch or so and is looking a little shallow, tip it all down to one end of the tub and top up the other end with more clumping litter. Swap ends each time and you'll find that older litter never gets a chance to build up in the corners of the tub.
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 AM on December 24, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice :-) Good ideas. Just to provide a little more information, I do use clumping litter and have a deep/ x-large litter box. The issue isn't odor coming from the litter, it's the fact that after I have cleaned the litter box and it is empty there is an strong smell emanating from the plastic base which cleaning products can't remove. Once I put the fresh litter in it kind of muffles the smell but I would rather be using a vessel that doesn't absorb the odor at all. Lastly, my cats (2) kind of dig like they are the Tasmanian devil so I need one with a hood. I was thinking about going for the steel dish pan and figuring out a way to fashion a top.
posted by mermily at 10:20 AM on December 24, 2013

I spray mine down with Nature's Miracle or similar every time I wash them, but I replace the whole box every couple of years.
posted by mgar at 10:44 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

it's the fact that after I have cleaned the litter box and it is empty there is an strong smell emanating from the plastic base which cleaning products can't remove.

If there's pee hitting the bottom of the box, the litter is still not deep enough. Get a deeper box. Because if you need to dump all the litter and wash the box, you're still doing it the hard way.

Also, if you're using the wood-based clumping litter I recommended, then even if the bottom of the box reeks of old piss, with two or more inches of dry litter over it neither you nor your cats will smell a thing. Wood is good at soaking up piss odour.

That said, I agree that a spray with Nature's Miracle followed by a few hours' exposure to bright sunlight outdoors will cause a remarkable improvement.
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use this Feline Pine Litter Box, along with pine pellets (I used to use Feline Pine litter, cost $17.00 40lb bag, until a fantastic Askme thread mentioned the pine pellet stall bedding for horses, cost $6.00 per 40lb bag)

The littler box is actually two boxes nested, see link above. Not all of the saw dust falls through the holes into the lower box, (it may be that my cats are lazy and don't agitate the litter enough for it to sift properly). However, my method for a fresh box is this: add about two inches of pine litter to the top box, pour about 1/2 cup of OdoBan into the bottom box and swish it around. Remove solid waste daily, I use plastic food tongs and shake the box to get the saw dust to filter through the holes. About every few days I will clean out the bottom tray of the soggy pine sawdust and repeat the OdoBan. If the plastic food tongs get soiled from the solid waste, I put them tong side down in the toilet, close the lid and put the trash can on it. After about an hour, I just swish the tongs clean and flush the toilet.
posted by JujuB at 12:28 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's that pelletized stall bedding, by the way.
posted by jquinby at 12:35 PM on December 24, 2013

I have use the Breeze System and te only thing it ever stinks of is poo if I don't scoop every day. There is NO PEE SMELL. It is pricier than other options but it's simpler too.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:57 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Only buy MULTI CAT litter formula; they put extra clumping agent in it. (If I don't buy multi cat litter I end up with a soupy mess.) Put in extra litter.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:02 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My roommate uses liners for her cats box, but she puts a piece of cardboard on the bottom after the liner is in (and then fills with litter) to keep the cat from tearing up the liner. Seems to work pretty well.
posted by ktkt at 4:28 PM on December 24, 2013

The only thing that works is changing the litter daily. Put down less (I've seen people dump the whole bag in), and discard it every day.
posted by thelonius at 4:44 PM on December 24, 2013

We keep one of those buffet aluminum trays in the bottom of a regular plastic litter box. I replace it every few weeks. I also use the plastic liners, with several layers of newspaper on top....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:15 PM on December 24, 2013

I clean the litter every time I see a deposit in it, so about twice per day, max three times per day. I keep a fair amount of litter in the box with the goal of not having the pee ever touch the plastic. We use the Nvr Miss litter box here. I also change the litter once per month, scrub out the box with hot soapy water, and then spray the inside with Zero Odour. Oh, and I use Okoplus Cat's Best cat litter - I can't believe it, but yes, my cat litter is imported! All of that being said, I don't really think there is any solution but vigilance. Dr. Lisa Pierson has a section on litter on her famous website.
posted by analog at 5:37 PM on December 24, 2013

I was suprised to learn that aluminum turkey roasting pans work suprisingly well as a liner. I swear. Aluminum oxidizes quickly but, ironically that property creates a barrier to further oxidation which means it is 'self-sealing'. Further;
Thanks to the protective properties of the natural oxide layer, aluminium shows good resistance to many chemicals. However, low or high pH values (less than 4 and more than 9) lead to the oxide layer dissolving and, consequently, rapid corrosion of the aluminium. Inorganic acids and strong alkaline solutions are thus very corrosive for aluminium.

Exceptions to the above are concentrated nitric acid and solutions of ammonia. These do not attack aluminium.

I only discovered this because the local big box didn't have a litter box or dishpan or anything available so I purchased the turkey roasting pan as a temporary measure.

In the last year I've purchased only two aluminum turkey roasting pans to use as a liner and odor is not a problem. Squirrley seems happy.

Anyway, it seems to work.
posted by vapidave at 7:57 PM on December 25, 2013

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