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New room mate has cats. House smells like cat poo. Any Advice?


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My new house mate has 2 wonderful cats, but they have an indoor kitty litter tray (a cardboard box with kitty litter in it) which fills the house with the smell of cat poo, and I don't know what to do.


When I come home, if they've taken a poop, I almost gag.


I don't know much about cats or cat toilet / hygiene etc, as all the cats I've lived with have always been cats that go to the toilet outside.


She says her cats wouldn't be safe outside at night (I think she's worried they'll get into fights with other cats or something).



Any suggestions would be welcome.

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I'm really quite surprised to hear this. I have a cat, and I really don't think my house smells like poop.

A few ideas:

- get rid of the cardboard box and get a plastic litter box. The cardboard will absorb any liquids (pee) and smells a lot more than plastic. I'm actually surprised the cardboard is holding up at all.

- get litter specifically marked as shielding odors, getting rid of odors, odor-resistant, whatever ... there are some that really do get rid of smells much better than others

- scoop daily and change weekly ... but it sounds as though that's not the problem, since the smell is when they've just gone

- put the litter box in an area of the house you do not visit frequently. At home we have the boxes very small walk-in closet - door is kept just ajar.

- change the cat's diet. I'm not sure it's normal for a cat's poo to stink up the whole house. Every once in a while my cat will go and I'll wrinkle my nose, but mostly I can't really smell anything, at most a very very faint odor

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I have 3 indoor only cats and one of the best compliments I have ever gotten (from a few different people) was: "If I didn't actually SEE your cats, I'd have never known you HAD cats... your house doesn't smell like "cat""


Sure, the house is going to smell for a little while right after the cats poop - just like the bathroom/house smells after we go. It's part of nature. But just like we use air freshener or close the bathroom door when we're done stinking up the bathroom, there are things that can be done to reduce the offending odor.


First of all, I agree with sophie. A cardboard box is NOT a litter box. The cardboard is absorbing odors that can never be gotten rid of. The first thing that needs to be done is to get a proper litter box. When shopping for a litter box, make sure that you get one of the bigger ones, since there are 2 cats going to be using it. One thing that has always helped to control the odor for me was to get a covered litter box that has a plastic flap in the opening. This will contain most of the odors.


Secondly, the litter has to be scooped daily and changed frequently. I use scoopable litter, so I don't have to change the entire litter box as often as if I were using regular litter. Regular litter needs to be changed completely every week. Scoopable cat litter can last for significantly longer. I usually clean my litter boxes entirely once a month. I dump out all of the dirty/used litter and throw it away. Then I scrub out the litter boxes using a cap of bleach, hot water and a brush. I make sure to rinse them really well and let them completely dry before adding new, fresh litter.


Another thing you can do is get some cat litter box deodorizer to sprinkle into the box after it's been scooped every day. This cuts back on the odors in between changings. Just make sure to mix it into the litter well.


It really is not safe for cats to be outdoor cats. It greatly reduces their life expectency. With a little effort, you can live happily co-existing with the 2 indoor cats in your life!

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Thanks for the advice.


Just to clarify, the cardboard box is lined with garbage bags.

I'm pretty sure she cleans out the poop twice a day, but it's the times inbetween changes where the poop just reeks.


Our house is pretty small, and so the only choice is to either put it in the main bathroom or in the dining room, so it's in the bathroom.


I guess I was also asking this question to see if it's normal that you should have this kind of indoor kitty litter thing. All the cats I ever lived with went to the toilet outside, and if they needed to go at night, they'd wake you up to ask.


I'm not used to sharing my home with cat toilets.


And the cats don't bury it. it just sits on top of the litter letting off odours. (the litter she uses is the stuff made from recycled paper).


also, I'm not interested in taking on the chore of cleaning the tray. They're not my cats.

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If she is using recycled cat litter they won't bury it. (I'm assuming it's made of paper pellets)


I would suggest asking her to move to normal cat litter or, if she is using recycled cat littler because of environment concerns, she can use littler made of corn or fine wood waste. Anything is better than the recycled paper pellets. Either that or she needs to hide the box in a closet or basement and put odor eaters next to it.

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I don't own cats, because I am deathly allergic, but I do however own free roaming litter trained rabbits.

I've been through the litter selection woes with them, and yes, the recycled paper is AWFUL. It absorbs the smell and re-releases it into the air like satans airwick!

The corn cob litter, however is awesome! Since switching to it, there's virtually no smell, and it's way easier to scoop than a lot of the alternatives.

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Sometimes something in their diet will make their poop smell bad. I have three cats and use large, plastic, litterboxes. If their poop smells after one of them goes, I just take the scoop and throw some litter over it. Odor gone. I use clumping litter that contains odor control and clean the boxes (there should be one for each cat) daily. Get her to use plastic litter boxes and change to scooping litter. It will make a big difference.

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Even if the box is in a bag, it's still a box. Cardboard is porous and is prone to picking up odors out of the air.

Like other's have said, the paper litter is no good. The clumping litters are the best for odor control, but if she's being environmentally conscious (which I believe is her motivator, because at least in my area, clumping litters are cheaper than the paper)

The cat's diet can play a role too, maybe try switching the cats to a food based from different ingredients.

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Does your roomate scoop the litter box frequently? Also, if she doesn't change the litter box then she definitely needs to change it as well. It helps when it's scooped frequently and when there is fresh litter. When I had my cat she was a indoor/outdoor cat and which I kept the litter box because I prefer her to be in the house at night. I always kept up with it so the smell was never an issue. But, would recommened getting a odor control litter which helps.

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Thanks everyone for coming to my aid on this one. I really didn't know where to start.


By the way, has anyone had any experience with the self cleaning litter boxes?


you know the ones that you tip to the side and all the poop gets caught into a tray that you can then empty?


here's an example:


link removed


it seems like the best one I've seen by far, but I don't know much about these things.





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The self-cleaning boxes are great for some cats and a no-go for others... i've heard many stories of people who went out to buy these fabulous contraptions, spent an arm and a leg on them and then their cat(s) ended up being AFRAID of it and refused to use it... Just a word of caution that it's not a guarantee. Also, if you have space constraints, the self-cleaning boxes take up significantly more room (when inches count). Once again, I'd suggest getting a covered box with a flap. You may have to take the flap off in the beginning to get the cats used to going inside to use the box - but after about a week when they've established where the litter box is, you should be able to put the flap on and have them using it with no problem.

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My sister in law uses a litter-maid self cleaning litter box because she doesn't like cleaning it - ours is manual, but it's cleaned daily.

She got the cats used to it by having it turned off like a regular box initially, and turning it on after they were using it habitually. Otherwise, the noise can scare them.


As everyone has said, cardboard with trashbag is still cardboard, the cardboard WILL absorb odor. A lot of odor.


With multiple cats, I HIGHLY recommend a scoopable litter that removes the urine and feces. Baking soda on the bottom will also help with odor absorption, but can't replace a clean box. Between rescues and my own, I have 6 cats using one box - and cleaning the box twice a day with scoopable multi-cat litter, no odor. There's simply no excuse for the odor with so many litter options available these days.


Encouraging outdoor cats in this day and age IMO is a no-go. There's way too much traffic, too many stray dogs, and too many ignorant people in most urban areas to make it safe. The responsibility should be on your roomie to make sure there's a proper toilet for the cats, and proper litter that's scooped daily. You'll notice a huge difference.


One other note - if any of them are unneutered males - you may end up with a spraying issue - he or she needs to get them fixed asap if they're not mature yet. Some people think because they can't get pregnant there's no rush - but a male that gets in the habit of spraying can destroy a home.

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Thanks so much for all the advice everyone.


Can I ask what the flaw is in the self cleaning model I mentioned?


FYI - the cats are both female, have been desexed, and both seem to be above average intelligence, and I think they would be able to adapt to a new kitty tray. One of them loves enclosed spaces, and the other is pretty easy going and would probably be able to get used to it.


(My housemate seems to be a bit touchy on the subject of the inadequacy of her cardboard box option. I've mentioned it a few times and she is having trouble seeing that her cardboard box is inadequate and ugly, and smelly. (It's currently in the bath, because there's not really anywhere else to put it that we won't trip over it, other than the dining room right next to the dining table, - like I said, we live in a fairly small house, and there's no good spot to put it).


Thanks for all the advice. I'll try to broach it with her gently.

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There's really no flaw - it's just having it turned off initially so the cats accept it before the noisy part starts. If they've already accepted it, it's an easier transition to have an "accepted and marked" territory have something new than for it to be new, and making noise, AND hoping they'll use it. Since they're creatures of habit - it takes a lot more to put them off something after it's being used and accepted than to get them to accept something off the bat that's noisy.


Wal-Mart has a basic "Litter Maid" self cleaning box for about 90 bucks. We use the Arm and Hammer Double Duty litter here with it - no issues

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I agree with the suggestion that it could be the type of litter. I have 2 female cats and 2 litter boxes set side by side (on a bottom shelf, out of the way, but easy to pull out and scoop), and to my surprise they use one to pee in, the other poo. I tried the recycled newspaper and wheat-based litter but they tended to smell, unfortunately. It could be that they don't invite digging and burying as much as finer litter does. I use unscented clumping clay litter, kept pretty deep. Now I'm experimenting with clumping litter in one box, and and non-clumping clay litter in the other, to see if they prefer one over the other, and they seem happy with both, and still keep their activities separate.


Do the self-cleaning boxes require electricity and plumbing? The model I've researched awhile ago required special plumbing (so it could flush) and a nearby electrical outlet.

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I keep a litter scoop in a basket in the bathroom close to the office where the litter is. The very minute the cat poops, I run for the scoop, hold my breath and scoop it out, flush it down the toilet and the smell is gone! My cat doesn't even attempt to cover hers, so there is no choice for me but to GET IT OUT! If the cat's poop smells that bad, that is the only way to solve the problem. Also, you can pour a bit of litter over the spot the cat pooped in to cover any residue.


I know this isn't your cat, but it is YOUR space so if you have to do this to get relief, then DO IT! Your roommate probably likes the smell, lol.

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