Cat Smell

Nov. 14th, 2012 09:21 pm
loki_of_sassgaard: (Default)
[personal profile] loki_of_sassgaard posting in [community profile] cats
OK, I'm at my wit's end here and not sure what else to do.

TL;DR, my father in law, whom I currently live with, can't stand the smell of our cats. He says the entire house smells of cat, but... I'm not really sure what he's smelling.

He says if we can't get the smell under control, the cats have to go. He's not a particularly petty man, and he does like the cats well enough, so I'm inclined to believe him when he says he smells something.

The cats are neutered, the litter box is cleaned daily and even has some baking soda sprinkled in it for good measure. They're not allowed in any of the bedrooms in case they do decide to go pee in a corner. They're fed a consistent diet that doesn't change around.

How do I get rid of cat smell that he apparently seems sensitive to? Halp!

Date: 2012-11-14 10:13 pm (UTC)
chalcopyrite: A startled-looking orange tabby kitty (animals: tiger kitten)
From: [personal profile] chalcopyrite
Okay, I am not sure what he's smelling either, but I remember when I had inside cats, my mother mentioned a cat smell I had not noticed, so.... What worked there was rinsing the (empty) litter tray out with hydrogen peroxide and letting it dry. After that, she said it was much better.

Another thing you might do is wipe down surfaces with warm water and vinegar? 3 parts warm water to 1 part white vinegar, wipe wth a cloth or put it in a spritz bottle to spray. Open windows, as this will make it smell like pickles for a bit. *wry g*

Good luck!

Date: 2012-11-14 11:10 pm (UTC)
chalcopyrite: Two little folded-paper boats in the rain (Default)
From: [personal profile] chalcopyrite
Yeah, I scalded the tray every time I emptied it (once a week) and let it dry in the sun, but it still accumulated odors. (Apparently.)

Date: 2012-11-14 10:18 pm (UTC)
arduinna: A sleepy grey kitten wakes up, one eye at a time (Hobbes's eye)
From: [personal profile] arduinna
By "cleaned daily", do you mean actually scrubbed out and refilled, or just scooped? If you're just scooping, there's probably odors settling into the plastic that you don't notice because you're acclimated.

If the litter box is relatively new, you can empty all the litter out of it (and toss the litter, don't reuse it * ) and scrub it good with warm water and mild soap, then rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely before refilling it with fresh litter. If he's that sensitive to the smell, you may want to do the scrubbing every week; it really makes a difference.

If the box isn't newish and hasn't been regularly scrubbed, start over with a new box (and then scrub it out every week or two, whatever's needed to keep the smell down). The cats scratch them up as they use them, and odors get into the scratches that you'll just never get out if they're entrenched.

While you're waiting for the litter box to dry, scrub the whole area where it's usually located -- walls, floor, everything. Litter and litter dust go everywhere, and carry the scent with them. Once the first good scrub is done, you can probably just wipe them down every week or so when you scrub the box out.

If you have more than one cat, and you have space for a second box, put another one down. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one more, to keep things comfortable for the cats and cut down on territorial issues, but it also helps a lot with the smell, since there's more fresh litter for them to use and cover things with, so they're not having to dig around in the dirty bits. (I have two cats but not enough room for three boxes, so I make do with two boxes. The cats are brothers who don't mind sharing, so it works out fine.)

It's more expensive to fill two boxes, but it really makes a difference when there's that much clean litter for them to use if you can swing it.

You also might want to try scooping twice a day instead of once; I do that, because I have a small apartment. It helps. If you put a towel or something down to try to keep the litter off the floor, make sure you wash it every week; it can get smelly, too.

* If you don't usually replace the litter, this whole process may be confusing to the cats, who may want their familiar, smells-like-them litter back. I've had that happen, and putting just a little of the old litter in with the new can take care of it; they just want some reassurance that this is really *their* litter.

Date: 2012-11-15 12:10 pm (UTC)
realpestilence: m&s by lit_gal (Default)
From: [personal profile] realpestilence
You might need to change the litter more often. I only have one cat, but I can start smelling it after 3-4 days.

Date: 2012-11-15 03:49 am (UTC)
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (Default)
From: [personal profile] dragonfly
Consider just buying a second litter box. It's not a great expense, and it allows you to swap them every week and the one that's not in use can get a thorough treatment and drying with whatever you decide to use.

I've found having two litter boxes has allowed me the elbow room to do things like dry the box in the sun for three days, or whatever.

Date: 2012-11-15 12:30 pm (UTC)
lyorn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lyorn
Do they get wet food or dry food? That's the only thing that might still make a difference.
Exchange the litter box for one of porcelain or kitchen use glass? Plastic keeps smells.

But IME you smell animals, the same you smell people, or if a flat is lived-in or standing empty. My mother was something of a cleanliness freak and had only extremely well-behaved small dogs, but everything in and from the house still told to everyone with a good sense of smell, "small dog in the house".

However, when you live with the animals, you lose the sense of that particular smell. (I didn't notice Small Dog Smell until I had moved out.) Maybe you can cover it with something else (incense, a wood stove, cooking with lots of curry, flowers, clean the electric kettle with vinegar) until your FIL has gone nose-blind to the cat smell? I usually would not recommend attempting to cover one smell with another one, but in this case...

Date: 2014-02-27 11:49 pm (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
Very belated reply, here, so feel free to ignore!

I'm curious, however, whether he's specifically said it's a cat urine (or waste) smell, or just a "cat smell"?

If it's urine or feces, then all the advice in the comments is good advice! (In addition to baking soda in the litter, you might also try leaving a box of it open to the air, tucked behind the box. Or something like Febreeze or Neutra-Air that you could spritz in the air after scooping.) It might be worth it to buy a blacklight, too, and scan the entire area for urine drips or litter box "misses" (urine shows up under blacklight!) that are hard to see in regular lighting.

If it's not the litter area that's creating the smell he's used to, though, I'd suggest some other things. Are there fabric items that the cat lies on a lot? Body oils have a distinct smell, and they build up fast in an animal's preferred places! (We periodically have to wash all the throws, blankets, and small rugs in the areas of the house where our dog lives, for this reason!) So if your cats have a cat bed/blanket/cat tower/other surface(s) that haven't been washed recently, I'd round them all up and check them out; try to brush most of the hair off, then wash them with some baking soda or discard them if they're distinctly smelly/discoloured/obviously the worse for their time under the cat. :) Pick up or make a bed that's easily washable, or one that has an odour-blocking filling such as cedar chips, to help keep the area fresher.

Likewise, vacuum really thoroughly to pick up any stray shedding... and if you haven't changed your vacuum bag in a while (if it has a bag) then do that first. Pet smells have a distressing tendency to linger in vacuums, thanks to modern filter technology, so that while they still pick up hair they also end up making the air smell worse! Again, baking soda can come to the rescue if you deposit some in the bag/canister before you start vacuuming.

If the cats will tolerate it, brushing them could be a good move, too. (It helps reduce the amount of hair they drop elsewhere, plus it will keep the coats/skins in good condition.) A wipedown with a gently scented cloth (use a pet-safe wipe, "pet cologne", or nontoxic scent like a diluted essential oil) could help, too.

Ask him if he can be really specific, without being accusatory; is there a place, time, or situation where he's most aware of the smell? (I know that I'm most likely to notice "doggy odour" when I first come in the house from outside, or else if I'm sitting next to something of the dog's that somehow missed the wash for a while!) What does it smell like - waste, dirty laundry, food? (Some pet food is pretty stinky, and it could be mistaken for a feces or body odour! Maybe switch up where the cats are fed, or when, or what kind of container the food is kept in!)

Think about things that increase scent: Maybe the cats are sitting on the heat vent when it's on, or a fan is blowing odours from the litter box around? Are they fed on a schedule, or could there be old kibble sitting out for hours? Is the food bowl in a warm or sunny spot that would magnify the smell? (What about the litter?) If they're fed at a certain time every day, then they probably eliminate at a certain time; is that time coinciding with his coming home or being in proximity to the litter box? Have their teeth been checked by a vet recently, to eliminate mouth problems that cause bad breath? (Since cats lick themselves, bad breath isn't going to stay inside their mouth!)

Anyway! I hope you've already managed to get your problem resolved, but maybe my tardy post will help someone else at some point. :D


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