Smelly Cat :(
September 14, 2021 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Thanks to a combo of prescription food and a couple of medications, my cat's litter box items smell astoundingly terrible and will continue to do so for the rest of her life. The odors take over my apartment and linger despite liberal use of baking soda in her box and in the poop bag and various Lysol products to combat the smells. How are you dealing with this issue if you, too, have a smelly cat?

This is different than my previous ask about her litter box because that scenario involved a cracked LitterMate. This is just her pee and poo in general now.
posted by Hermione Granger to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only thing I've tried that has worked is scooping immediately after every box use and taking that stinky bag outside to the trash can.

I know. It's not a great answer.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 11:29 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]

Those filter things that you can get at a pharmacy (or some dollar stores) that are in a round plastic tub the size of a smoke alarm work well for me. If you can switch to a closed/covered box that also helps (I had to uncover all my boxes after my idiot cat had a stroke, it's a significant difference, and I didn't even put filters in my covers before).
posted by jeather at 11:33 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]

Electronic, covered litterbox that scoops and compartmentalizes cat waste immediately after use. Wheat based additives like "dookashi." Charcoal filters, odor neutralizers/"sponges," found in large hardware stores online. Air filters.

Grain free/raw diet, whenever possible. You may be able to use half raw in the am, and prescription in evening.

Aside the diet, this is maybe $150-200 in startup that will last for years.

You don't have to live in a feline stink zone, and you don't have to lose your cat.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:34 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]

Go to the source! Your cat should not smell. If your vet is just *shrug* on your ask, go to another one - there are different med & food combos that will not make her stink to high heaven.
posted by RajahKing at 11:38 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I just feel like if the smell is horrible for me it's probably horrible for her too & I would not want to use a toilet in that condition either. Best thing I have found for me personally is to not hide the box away or do anything to cover the smell so it motivates me to take care of it as soon as possible.
posted by bleep at 11:51 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]

Litter box odors dropped off a lot for us when we switched to a wheat-based litter. Try mixing half and half with familiar litter at first.
posted by chr1sb0y at 11:56 AM on September 14

Immediate scooping and use a litter genie.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:56 AM on September 14

Pine litter
Multi-cat or senior litter formulations
Charcoal filters, covered box, if your cat would use one
An air purifier with activated carbon filters situated nearby
Robot litter box, frequently emptied
If your vet approves, treats with probiotics to reduce stool odor
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:58 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]

What litters have you tried? Something like Worlds Best Cat Litter is amazing for smells in my experience. Also have you tried probiotics like FortiFlora from your vet?
posted by cgg at 12:14 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

so sorry, my lovebug Herbert is on meds that make him pee and poop a ton, and his poops are...unspeakable. the best thing we have found is to scoop immediately and get the bag out of the house. the odor still lingers. we febreeze, we use fans to move air around...we gag.
posted by supermedusa at 12:15 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

They make disposable litter boxes. Unfortunately I don’t have a brand recommendation because my favorite kind, which used to last—I cat-poo you not—a month, redesigned with flimsier materials.

Still, throwing the whole shebang away can actually be more economical than trying to wash a plastic box, which will ultimately have to be replaced anyway because they retain odor.

Vouching for pine litter and the litter genie, which seals on closure. It’s not airtight but it’s very contained.

Does your good kitty bury her stuff? If my cat leaves something unburied, even the most powerful litter can’t help.
posted by kapers at 12:26 PM on September 14

Worlds Best Cat Litter is indeed very good for odors (tragically Herbert does not manage to bury his poos)
posted by supermedusa at 12:55 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

my old cat has poops so stinky that sometimes the miasma wakes me up in the middle of the night, and his litter box is NOT in our room.

We use compostable dog poop bags, and I put one over my hand and grab his poops out immediately, close up the bag and take it to the outdoor trash. Even if it's the middle of the night. Then we open a window and turn on a fan and hope we aren't eating right then.

We switched to pine litter, which helps a ton with urine smells, but does nothing with the poop smell.

He is on fortiflora, which has helped the healthiness of his poops a lot, but has changed nothing about their horrible smell. The vet thinks that he digests protein strangely, and it's noticeably worse (you wouldn't believe it was possible, but it is) if he eats food containing fish. So you could try cutting out fish?
posted by euphoria066 at 1:16 PM on September 14

Ventilation or an air purifier with a good carbon filter is the thing you need.

For cleaning, Thornell Cat Odor Off is excellent at getting rid of cat smells.

In the litter box use granular PZD. Better than baking soda for sure, which only works on certain odors. Another thing that works for us in the non stinky litter pail is dried coffee grounds. Having some old brewed coffee to wipe on safe surfaces also is an instant fix for airborne smells.

I've never tried Lysol products because it seems like it would bother the cat's delicate sense of smell.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:43 PM on September 14

If you have a room you can dedicate to the cat's litter box- ideally one with two windows, you can set up a small exhaust fan in one of them to get cross ventilation and slightly open the other one to allow fresh air intake. Then, install a cat flap in the door so you can keep the door closed but the cat can enter/exit. (In our case, we've got an enclosed porch, which is nice as it's a non heated/airconditioned space so you don't have to worry about drawing all the heat out of the house.)

Failing that, you could probably build a positively ventilated cat box. Get a covered cat box, cut a hole in the top for a duct, use a small inline "duct booster" fan and run some flex duct out to a window. (You could make a plywood baffle to fit in the window so the window sash closes on the plywood, there's a round hole cut it in for the duct, etc.)
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:04 PM on September 14

I use biodegradable doggie poop bags to bag my cat's poop individually. Helps to keep the wastebasket relatively odor free until I take it out each week or so.
posted by ambulatorybird at 4:25 PM on September 14

Move the box farther away from your nose! A cat will cheerfully walk a good distance with no complaints.
posted by Doug Holland at 5:00 PM on September 14

Fans. I turn on the box fan and point it out the window. One of the cats never ever ever buries his poo. (Also our cats are grey tabbies too!) We have open litter boxes because they both seem extra sensitive to litter odors and there's been sporadic diarrhea issues and I wanted to know who was having the problem.

I'm not sure how you are disposing of things, but we scoop the pee clumps and poop onto newspaper and then fold it up before putting it in our kitchen trash. Newspaper/paper really helps absorb odors in my experience.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:46 PM on September 14

Try different litters. And if you can't remove the poop to outside trash immediately, maybe when you scoop use a Litter Genie with a charcoal filter at the bottom?
posted by schroedinger at 7:59 PM on September 14

Get a stainless steel litter box. You can also use a cafeteria steam table tray. Either way, easy to clean, doesn’t retain odors
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:28 PM on September 14

Teach the cat, Seven Steps to Toilet Training Your Cat | Hartz. Good Luck!
posted by zengargoyle at 10:52 PM on September 14

Response by poster: All of these ideas are fab and I will be picking up an XL covered litter box tomorrow. Bunny sort of stays at her full height to have a BM so I hope the enclosure is tall enough.

What can I do about trash? I've tried carbon filters but the odor still comes through, and I can't bring her poops down to my apartment building's dumpsters immediately.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:31 PM on September 14

Response by poster: Also, I use Dr. Elsey's litter. I have discovered that I can't really use any artificially scented stuff because litter always gets between Bunny's toes and she really likes to suck on her toes whilst cleaning them (😩), so...

she is doing it right now I hate it omg
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:36 PM on September 14

Litter Genies really do help as a place to store waste before dumping it entirely.
posted by schroedinger at 4:25 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

A dehumidifier helps reduce lingering smells as well.
posted by jello at 8:28 AM on September 15

The nuclear option is to get an ozone generating machine. This is a very aggressive solution - anything you want to live long healthy lives will need to be kept out of the room for an hour to allow the high levels of ozone to dissipate. Longer if you can't open a window. It took a day for my basement bathroom to clear out.

I have learned to use my small unit in short bursts- 5 minutes. It's effective.
posted by zenon at 10:21 AM on September 15

Reading your update, and following onto to the "litter genie" suggestion - baby diaper pails/diaper genie, mini pail, Nappy Disposal Bin; liner bags; "odor-sealing" disposable bags (diapers/pet waste/any sanitary product disposal); "neutralizing" disposable diaper bags; a bag scented with baby powder.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:33 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

« Older Resources for teaching free speech/hate...   |   academic in covid-time filter: when/how to resign? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments