It’s a given thing that living with a pet means living with their smells.
Whilst cats are one of the cleanest creatures that can share your home, odours can sometimes build up, especially in flats where air cannot circulate as well.
If you’ve ever had guests wrinkle their noses upon entering your home, then this blog post is for you.
But first, a bit about the science behind the stink…
Why does cat urine smell?
The main reason for that pungent aroma we know so well is the formation of odorant molecules such as ammonia being released as urine decomposes.
When urea, the main component of urine, decomposes, the highly volatile ammonia is released, and as cats have higher levels of urea than dogs or even humans, this is multiplied in the litter tray.
Humans can detect ammonia at very small concentrations, and it has a particularly fishy smell. Anything above 500ppm will be picked up by the human nose. A cat’s nose will smell it much earlier!
Another factor to take into account are pheromones such as felinine, which are produced by cats (more so in boys), when felinine degrades, it generates sulphur compounds called thiols, which carry their own unfortunate odour.
The main culprit however when it comes to that “catty smell”, is ammonia.
When you forget to tell someone you have a cat
and they drop by unannounced...
Our top tips to combat litter box odour
Get the right litter box for your cat
Our recyclable litter tray - available with Collect & Compost subscriptions
If your litter box is too small, your cat will be unable to bury their business as well as they would prefer. This will result in the urine and faeces being exposed to the air, where bacterial breakdown will release unpleasant odours.
Always make sure that your cat has enough room to move around when they are done. A good rule of thumb is to buy a box that is at least twice as long as your cat and as wide as the cat is long.
Remember, some cats are “bigger” than others...
A lot of cats dislike plastic liners, which can get caught on claws when cats are digging, leading to leakage. The best option is to use a clumping litter, which will absorb the liquid, so there’s no need for a liner (and one more thing is saved from landfill).
We recommend a two-inch layer of litter covering the entire tray. This will give your cat enough room to dig with adequate covering afterwards.
All cats are different, so it’s important to pay attention to your cat's litter tray habits to see whether you need to adjust this level up or down.
Keep an eye on their diet
Some cat’s diets can result in extremely smelly poop. A particular ingredient cats can’t digest very well is wheat or grains, and this can cause particularly pongy poops...
“Note to self: cancel taco night”
Bacteria and even parasites from contaminated or spoiled food can also cause an increase in odour, so make sure to take your cat to the vet if you notice a sudden change to get them checked out.
There are some elements in a cat's diet that can make their poop smell worse, some of these issues will naturally resolve themselves, whilst others may need an expert eye (or nose…)
When a cat switches to a new type of food, their tummy may need a bit of time to catch up, whereas an allergy in their food will show as not fully digested and extra smelly. Vets recommend an elimination diet to get to the bottom of this particular problem.
Keep it clean
Cats can clean themselves, the rest is up to you
The best thing you can do to combat odour is stay on top of cleaning.
Ideally, you should remove the clumps from your cat's litter tray as and when they appear, however we know that’s not always possible. At the very minimum, the clumps should be removed daily.
With Natusan, weekly litter tray changes are a thing of the past.
High absorbency means less spreading around, simply remove the clumps as you go and clean out the tray once a month.
To clean out a litter tray:
- First remove all the litter (and whatever else is in there)
- Use a cat friendly, mild and unscented detergent and water to scrub the insides of the tray.
- Rinse well.
- Don’t forget the scoop!
With our Collect & Compost service, we deliver a brand new recyclable litter box with your litter each month, and on collection day, we take the whole thing away (litter, box, scoop and all) and recycle, compost and do what we do best with them, bringing a brand new box next month - one less thing to worry about!
Location, Location, Location
“Nobody puts baby in the corner…”
Make sure that your cat’s litter box is in the right place for them (not just for feng shui), a litter box in an enclosed area, such as a small bathroom, will mean concentrated odours.
If you have more than one cat, you’ll most likely need more than one tray, and if bullying is a problem with your furry friends, an “out of the way” litter box could mean one more secluded place for a showdown (a bit like behind the bike sheds at school).
“You’ve come to the wrong neighbourhood buddy…”
If possible, place your litter box in a larger, more well ventilated area, but make sure it is a quiet spot away from your cat’s food that doesn’t see too much foot traffic, no-one likes an interruption...
"Terribly sorry, didn't realise it was occupied..."
Don't use baking soda
Sprinkling a little baking soda in your cat’s litter tray to freshen it up is an old tip, but not a very good one. It could even have the opposite effect and could lead to potential hazards for your cat.
There are a few schools of thought on the matter, and a quick Google search will show multiple arguments for either side, but best to play it safe as adding baking soda to your cats litter may cause side effects for your feline friend.
Odour-wise, baking soda isn’t much better either. To prevent the ammonia gas from being released, the pH level needs to stay below 8.0, as baking soda (and most clay litters) have a pH level higher than this, the overall pH level is increased, which encourages the ammonia to be released into the air, leading to that eye-watering smell.
This same ammonia gas can be harmful to living beings, leading to sinus problems, eye irritation and upper airway irritation, amongst others.
Provide the correct type of litter for odour control
Natusan clumping litter performs 40% better on odour control
than the average natural litter
Some cat litters have added fragrances or other additives which claim to help mask odour. These perfumes serve to merely carry the smell around, and due to a cat’s enhanced sensitivity to smell this can be overwhelming, which is one of the reasons this type of litter is discouraged.
Clumping litter, which allows for the simple removal of both liquid and solid waste, keeps your cat’s litter tray smelling fresher for longer.
As mentioned earlier odour control in cat litter is mainly about avoiding the formation of ammonia. Natusan clumping litter performs better on odour control than the average natural clumping litter brand.
In a recent test scientists performed on our litter, two measurements were taken: after one day, representing a normal cleaning routine, and after three days, representing a weekend without cleaning (not that we’d recommend ever doing that!)
Natusan performs on average 1.4 x better on odour control (measured by ammonia concentration) compared to other natural clumping litters.
If you didn't remove clumps daily then:
On day 3 (say if you go away for the weekend), the ammonia levels in Natusan litter are an estimated 25% less on average *compared to other natural litters
On day 1 (say if you forget to remove clumps one day), the ammonia levels in Natusan litter are an estimated 29% less on average* compared to other natural litters
Standard mineral clumping products (containing bentonite) vary hugely regarding odour control properties and can have an ammonia concentration of up to almost double Natusan after day 1 and up to over 3 times the ammonia concentration on day 3!
Natusan forms very small, stable and well shaped clumps. Their texture is slightly elastic, but easy to remove from the litter tray. Due to the low clump volume compared to other litter, Natusan can absorb the urine very efficiently and keep the odour trapped.
With these tips, you can keep your cat’s litter box as fresh as day one, meaning a happier cat, a fresher smelling home, and fewer little surprises in your slippers…
22/09/2020 by NatuTeam