How to get rid of smelly cat poop odors?

by Agatha

Hi Dr. Neely,

This might not sound like a big problem, but here it is anyway. I have had cats for 35 years and never experienced something like this.

I just adopted 2 girl kittens in January, and when they go to the bathroom, the poop smell is overpowering. Unfortunately for us, it is winter time right now and we have to have the windows closed. Both kitties have the habit of eating and then going to the bathroom together, so double the smell. Several times we have gone to change our baby's diaper thinking it was her, only to discover that it wasn't her but it was the cats (funny, but not really!).

The cat litter boxes are in our laundry room. We have a small air purifier (that plugs into the wall and sucks up odors) that we turn on for an hour or so when the smell is bad. We also have several air fresheners in the room, and we spray with air spray too. But the smell is just bad. The rescue group told us to feed them Nutro Max for kittens. I don't know if it's the food, but the odor is horrible.

Do you know from experience if it's that food, or maybe you know of a better way to mask the smell? I have even considered buying one of those public bathroom's air purifier (the kind that sprays continuously ever 5 minutes or so). My kitties are 5 and 7 months. I know poop is poop and it smells, but this is really bad. Thank you!

Dear Agatha,

I am sorry to hear you are having such a struggle with cat litter box odors! It sounds as though you have tried many things to resolve the problem, but to no avail, and I know how frustrating that can be.

If your kittens have not been examined by a veterinarian, I would recommend bringing them for an exam and bringing along a stool sample. The pungent odor could be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Also, if your kittens have not received a deworming regimen at the proper intervals, they may need to be treated for potential parasites.

Their kitten diet may be causing the odor problem. It is certainly possible that their food does not agree with them in some way. For this problem, you may want to consider a high-quality food such as over-the-counter or prescription veterinary diets from Royal Canin. Also, you do not mention whether or not their stools are formed or loose, but loose stools are indicative of a variety of underlying problems, parasites and diet problems included.

If your kittens have been examined by a veterinarian since noticing the odor problem and they are all well medically, my next recommendation would be to experiment with different types of litter. There are products ranging from newspaper and corn to clay and clumping litters, and each offers different advantages. Some products have different ways of providing “odor control” that work in different ways, and therefore may work differently for your kittens.

Stinky litter boxes are never fun to have to deal with and would most commonly be caused by food or parasites. The sooner your kittens see a veterinarian, if they haven’t already, the sooner you can all breathe better in your home!

Wishing you all the best,
Dr. Neely