Why Does My Cat Litter Box Smell So Bad? 6 Common Causes

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If you are a cat owner, you probably love your furry friend, but not the smell of their litter box. A smelly litter box can be unpleasant for both you and your cat, and it can also indicate some underlying issues that need to be addressed.

But what are the factors that contribute to the odor of your cat litter box? How can you identify and understand them? In this article, we will explore some of the common causes of the odor and how they affect your cat and your home. Read on to find out more.

Choice of Cat Litter

Cat litter box with litter & scoop

When picking the right litter for your cat, the choice can really affect how much you notice those unpleasant smells. There are different types of cat litter. Some litters, like clay, might not hide odors as well as others.

On the other hand, wood, pine, or sawdust pellets are known to be better at keeping smells under control. These natural options absorb the odor and help keep your home smelling fresher.

Remember, every cat is different, so you might need to try a few types to find the one that works best for keeping odors away.

Frequency of Cleaning

Another factor that can affect the smell of your cat litter box is how often and how well you clean it. Cats are very clean animals and they prefer a fresh and tidy litter box. If the litter box is not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, the odor from the accumulated waste can become unbearable for both you and your cat.

The recommended cleaning schedule for a litter box is to scoop it at least twice a day and change the litter completely every two to three weeks. You should also wash the litter box with mild soap and water regularly to remove any residue or bacteria that may cause odor.

Your Cat’s Diet

Cat eating dry food

What your cat eats can play a big part in how their litter box smells. Just like humans, a cat’s diet affects everything from their health to their waste. Feeding your cat high-quality food can lead to less smelly waste.

Also, making sure they drink plenty of water helps dilute their urine, making it less potent. Think of it as choosing healthy options for better overall well-being. Some foods might make the litter box odor stronger, so if you notice a change, it might be worth looking at their diet.

Litter Box Setup

The location and setup of your cat’s litter box play a crucial role in the battle against odors. If the box is in a spot with poor ventilation, smells can build up quickly, becoming overwhelming. A location that’s too warm or humid can amplify odors, making them more intense.

Additionally, placing the litter box near household items that already have strong smells, heat sources, or in areas with a lot of noise can stress your cat, possibly leading to improper litter box use.

Litter Box Size and Depth

Cat litter box

The size and depth of your cat’s litter box are more important than you might think. A box that’s too small can lead to messes and odors escaping, as cats might accidentally kick litter out or avoid using the box altogether.

Similarly, the amount of litter used affects odor control. Too shallow a layer won’t absorb smells effectively, while too deep can be wasteful and overwhelming for some cats.

You may also like: How to Reduce Cat Litter Box Odor

Potential Health Issues

Your cat’s health can significantly impact the odor of their litter box. Issues like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or diabetes can change the smell of urine, making it stronger or more pungent. Likewise, digestive problems can affect the odor of feces.

If you notice a sudden change in the way the litter box smells, it could be a sign of underlying health problems, especially if you’ve followed the tips listed above.


We hope this article has helped you discover some root cause behind that terrible odor from your cat litter box. If you have found out the cause of the smell, please share it with us in the comments below. We would love to hear from you

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