How can I stop my cat's litter tray from smelling?


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A reader asks for advice as to how to stop her indoor cat from having a smelly litter tray. Celia Haddon advises.

Q. I have a litter tray for my cat, Ethel, because she lives indoors, but I loathe the smell of it. Do you have any suggestions on how to have a litter tray that doesn’t smell? 

Your Cat reader  

How often are you cleaning the tray? Cat urine smells worse the longer it stays in the litter tray. As the urea decomposes, it releases ammonia which gives off that characteristic cat pee smell. So, the quicker you clear it out of the tray, the better. Twice a day, morning and evening, is a good routine but if you work at home, cleaning it up as soon as it is deposited will be even better. Clean the whole tray once a week.

A clumping litter is best, as you can take out the whole deposit in one go. Use enough litter so that the urine will not pool at the bottom. Some litters claim odour-control but in my experience these claims are not always fulfilled. If you need to experiment with different types, change slowly over a week to a fortnight, as some cats will stop using the tray if there is a sudden change. Scented litters or fresheners can also make a fastidious cat stop using the litter tray altogether so be cautious about using them.

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Cat poo shouldn’t smell as much as urine, so long as your cat is healthy. If it is particularly pungent or the smell suddenly gets worse, there may be something wrong and your cat should see a vet.