Litter Box Hygiene
A wise mentor once told me, if you won’t walk in your cat’s litter box in bare feet—don’t expect your cat to either. This means first of all cleanliness—daily cleanings at minimum, preferably more. But it goes beyond removing scat and urine balls. It’s acknowledging your cat’s preferences: litter textures, box placement, size and shape of box, and the type of litter—all litters are not the same, varying by effectiveness, reliability and quality. Modify for the benefit of your cat, and both your cat and your household will benefit. To force your choices and rely on air fresheners to cover odors is a sad attempt at hygiene.
Sense of Smell
In all your research for guidelines to litters you will not find a recommendation for a scented litter on our site or those of recommended feline experts or behaviorists. (One exception-see below.*) A cat’s sense of smell is exponentially greater than humans—what you find tolerable or pleasant may be downright offensive to your cat. This goes for products used to clean the box, added to the litter, or placed as a plug-in alongside the box. Artificial scents may also be upper respiratory irritants or even allergen triggers.
The Cause of Foul Odors
The biggest obstacle for cat owners is to correlate that what goes in the cat creates what comes out of the cat. To eliminate odors, you most go to the cause, not cover the results. If your cat is eating ingredients his body is not designed to utilize, such as many carbohydrates in dry foods and some canned foods or even high volumes of veggies in some raw foods, then your cat’s elimination will tell. (You know, kind of like how your digestive system tells on you when you’ve eaten something inappropriate or difficult to digest.) Cats are obligate carnivores, whose bodies rely on readily available nutrients found only in meat and organ meats. When fed foods appropriate for their bodies, a cat’s digestion works smoothly and efficiently. Output is surprisingly minimal and not odiferous—unless there is a health issue. If you notice any changes in your cat’s appetite and elimination, it’s time to have a discussion with your veterinarian. (BTW, another good reason to clean the box at least daily. Changes can be noted quickly.)
*An exception to scented litters: While I first objected to World’s Best Litter Lavender formula, I found it beneficial with stressed cats. Thanks to World’s Best using an herbal lavender extract, not a synthetic, this formula offers more than a pleasant scent.