a cat sitting in a kitty litter tray

How to Remove Cat Odor: Tips and Tricks for A Fresh-Smelling Home

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Every cat owner knows that cat odors around the house are tough to eliminate. However, help is at hand as today we bring you our top tips on how to remove cat odor.

No matter if the smell is from the litter boxes, kitty accidents, cat markings (spraying urine or musk), vomit or feces, the smell lingers and is hard to remove.  Luckily, there are ways you can get rid of cat odors and keep your home smelling clean.

First, Find the Stinky Spot!

  1. If the odor is the litter box, then just scope out and dispose of the clump(s) and replace the litter as needed.  I suggest using a no-dust type litter.
  2. If the box has become soiled or still stinks, then clean and sanitize it. 
  3. If a cat accident has happened or a marking (territorial spraying) has occurred, then clean the mess right away using one or more of the methods described below.
  4. If the offending mess is on carpet, upholstery, bedding, clothes, or a painted (or papered) surface then test an unseen spot with the cleaning solution first to be sure the cleaner won’t damage or discolor the soiled area.
  5. For major, lingering cat odor, you may need to do a full-on deep clean or hire a professional home cleaning service.

Second, go into action!

After identifying the offending odor area, then immediately go into action to clean and deodorize the area. Pick your preferred cleaning method using baking soda and vinegar, activated charcoal, or commercial pet mess and odor cleaners. A bit of trial and error may be necessary to find the right method or product that works best for you.  But, with a little expense and elbow grease, you can have cats and a clean-smelling home!

Understanding Cat Odor

Cat odors in the home are a big problem for cat lovers. Cat smells may be caused by foul-smelling litter boxes, kitty accidents, sick cats, hairball vomiting, territorial marking, or other behavior issues. Key to eliminating cat odor from your home is knowing the reasons for it.  The following review of odor reasons may help you.

  • Litter box problems. Not cleaning regularly can lead to cat waste buildup creating a very offensive smell. Being fastidious creatures, most cats won’t go into a stinky litter box.  They will then pee or defecate in some other place in the home.
  • Sick cat problems. Cats with UTIs (urinary tract infections), skin infections, internal diseases, vomiting frequently, or other medical issues may do their business somewhere besides the litter box.
  • Dental problems. Cats with bad teeth or gum infections often have very bad breath.  This can cause foul smells inside the home
  • Territorial marking.  This is another frequent reason that cats stink up a home. It’s a fact–cats like to spray!  They will pee on things and places to mark their territory. This behavior is common among all cats, especially male cats that haven’t been neutered. 

To eliminate household cat odors, you must know the places cats usually spray and the underlying reasons. This may be as easy as watching the cat closely for odd behavior, or just cleaning the litter box more frequently.  However, you might need to take your cat to the vet more often, or at least get your vet’s opinion, then do the things he or she advises.

Find the Reason

Cat odor can result from many things.  It could be as simple as litter box problems but there could be other causes like cat fighting, competition from other pets, cat fears, territorial marking, or bad health to name some.   Identifying the reasons for the offending stink must be done. You can temporarily mask the odor with some things but you can only eliminate it by identifying the reason for the odor and taking appropriate actions.

Here are some things you can do to discover the cause of the cat odor and get rid of it:

  • Check the litter box: Make sure the litter box is clean and that your cat is using it properly. If the litter box is dirty or your cat is not using it, then odors will occur.
  • Check around your home for urine stains: If you notice urine stains anywhere around the home then your cat may be marking its territory. This is usually more of a problem with adult tomcats.
  • Watch your cat. If your cat is going potty outside of the litter box–or is showing other weird signs–then a health problem may be the reason for the cat’s odd behavior.

When you’ve identified the reason for the cat odor, you can then eliminate it. If it’s the litter box then just be sure that it is clean and easy for your cat to use.  If your cat is marking territory, then use a commercial pheromone spray, catnip, or a diffuser to relax the cat and discourage marking behavior. If you suspect a health problem, take your cat to the vet

How to Remove Cat Odor

Natural Cat Odor Remedies

Cats can be fun and comforting pets for us humans. However, they can also create stinking odors in your home.  Here are several home remedy cat odor removers that you can try:

  • Vinegar is an effective cleaner that will help neutralize cat odors. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and clean tap water in a spray bottle.  Spray the affected area then allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before blotting it up with a clean cloth. Repeat until the odor is gone.
  • Baking soda is a good cleaner and odor eliminator that will absorb liquids and neutralize the odor. Sprinkle it generously on the soiled carpet then let it stay for several hours or overnight. Vacuum up the baking soda and repeat the process as needed.
  • Activated charcoal is a powerful odor remover that can absorb cat odor. Put several pieces of activated charcoal in a clean, dry bowl then place it in the affected carpet area or room overnight. The room’s air will smell fresh and clean.
  • Essential oils are sometimes used to mask cat odor and leave a pleasant cover scent in the home. Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with water in a spray bottle and mist the affected area. Be careful not to overdo the oil drops. Too much of a good thing is not always good.  Lavender, green apple, lemon, and peppermint oils are commonly used for masking pet odors.

Commercial Products for Cat Odors

If the natural remedies don’t do the job, then you can try the following commercial products for removing cat odors.

  • Enzyme cleaners use enzymes that reduce the proteins in cat urine to peptides and free amino acids which eliminates the odor-causing chemistry. These products can be good on both fresh and old odorous stains.
  • Oxy cleaners use oxygen to reduce the odor-causing molecules in cat urine. These products can be very effective on stains and odors. Also, these products can be used on several kinds of surfaces.
  • Air purifiers may help remove cat odors from room air. Only buy one that uses a HEPA filter to remove small particles and odor molecules.
  • Cat litter deodorizers are used with litter in the cat’s litter box to help control odor. Be sure you look for one that is guaranteed to help control odors.

Commercial products should always be tested first on an unseen area to make sure they won’t damage the material or surface.  Be patient as some products may require multiple uses to eliminate the odor


The first answer to the question how to remove cat odor? is to always remove cat odor quickly so that your cat uses the litter box and doesn’t get into a bad habit.  Using some of these tips you can easily sniff out the odor and eliminate it for good.

Getting rid of cat odor is definitely a challenge but it can be done so you can have a fresh smelling and clean home. Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Regular cleaning is essential to prevent cat odor from building up in your home.
  • Enzyme cleaners are highly effective at breaking down the proteins in cat urine and eliminating the odor.
  • Baking soda and vinegar are natural alternatives that can help absorb and neutralize cat odor.
  • Air purifiers and odor-eliminating sprays can provide additional support in removing cat odor from your home.

Remember to always follow the instructions on the cleaning products you use and test them on a small, inconspicuous area before applying to a larger surface. With patience and persistence, you can successfully remove cat odor and enjoy a fresh and clean home.

Stay organized and keep track of your pet’s health, grooming, and care with our easy-to-use cat care planner.

cat care planner available on Etsy

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