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Roommate Cats - a crisis of smell

Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I love cats, and I was talking about getting a kitten before a good friend from work said she needed a roomate. She already had two cats, and she's already moved them in, as well as her dog (who I'm going to have another thread about later.) The cats and dogs are fine: nice and friendly and all that. The problem is the cat boxes.

The cat boxes... smell horrible. I've lived with cats most my life, so I'm used to passing a box and getting that unpleasant whiff of cat, but this is something different. This is a small apartment, and the boxes are in the laundry room off of the main living area. The smell pervades the living area, and I haven't been able to bring myself to go in there long enough to do laundry. I had to step into the laundry room for a moment earlier and it triggered my gag reflex.

It's not that she doesn't clean the cat box. She's cleaned the boxes every day or every other day, but with no noticeable difference in the level of stench. She says that she took the boxes apart and cleaned them fairly recently, so it could be that they just suck... or that they've absorbed a lot of stench over the years and need to be replaced.

We're moving into a bigger apartment in a few days, but we don't have a spare room to put the boxes in, and the only room that would be... isolated from the rest of the place scent-wise would be her bedroom... but I feel like it would be monstrous to ask her to put catboxes in there. I don't know what to do... other than this, this roomate situation would be perfect... but right now I'm trying to pack with this stench drifting through the house and I can't even work.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Buttoneer, Brigadeer, and Keeper of the Book of Wil Wheaton.
Triwizard Drinking Tournament - '09 !Hufflepuff unofficial conscript, '10 !Gryffindor
Nerd blog at culturalgeekgirl.com
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Posts

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    What sort of litter is she using? There really shouldn't be anything in the way of odor if they're getting cleaned every day. If the boxes are old, they probably need to be replaced as well. Are they covered boxes? Is she using litter liners? Are you hypersensitive to smell?

    EDIT: Basically...

    1. Buy two new covered cat boxes.
    2. Buy litter liners for them. This reduces the amount of litter and cat byproduct that touches the actual box.
    3. Buy a decent litter. Nothing scented. It's bad for the cats. Get a nice CLUMPABLE litter of some sort. Check your pet supply stores rather than the supermarket.
    4. Clean them. Every day. The liners will need to be periodically changed as well.
    5. Voila. No smell (except immediately after they take a shit or something). If there is still one, that's something wrong with your nose.

    Esh on
  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I am more than normally sensitive to smell, I will admit, though again... I have lived with cats for many years, and never been really bothered by the smell as long as I cleaned the litter box daily. Admittedly, I've also never lived in a two-cat apartment before. Still, I have quite often at least visited with people who have multiple cats in an apartment, and never encountered this degree of problem. I didn't notice it in my friend's old apartment, but in that case she had a back bathroom that was disconnected from the rest of the apartment, whereas now I have the bedroom with the connected bathroom.

    She doesn't use litter liners, which may be a thing to suggest. The boxes are large and covered, but with a very wide mouth. I think this is the box. She has put plastic around the outside of the boxes because she says that occasionally in the past when cats have sprayed there has been some leakage out of the sides.

    I've noticed that I don't know if the filter-thing at the top of the box had ever been changed. I removed them and put it in a bag out on my porch, and it seems to have decreased the horror a bit. I'll have to try to buy a new one soon.

    The litter she's using is an arm-and-hammer multi-cat formula standard clump litter. Looking inside, I'm not sure if she's using enough litter; anyone know how many inches deep the litter should be? I used a very different style of box, so I'm not sure how to judge.

    After the move, I'm going to have to help her really properly fully clean those boxes, and I'll see if I get any hint of the odor after they're clean, or if it's possible to fully clean them. I'm also planning on buying an air filter and setting it up immediately next to wherever the boxes are.

    Cultural Geek Girl on
    Buttoneer, Brigadeer, and Keeper of the Book of Wil Wheaton.
    Triwizard Drinking Tournament - '09 !Hufflepuff unofficial conscript, '10 !Gryffindor
    Nerd blog at culturalgeekgirl.com
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    You want it about half full of litter. Any less than that and you're going to get urine and feces having all sorts of fun directly against the box.

    If she's had them for a while, sans litter liners, they need to be be thrown away. Plastic soaks that stuff up. I use boxes that look like this one and they work great. Also, the "filter" thing on top is pretty much a gimmick. I've never changed one or noticed a smell coming from it.

    And if they're somehow "leaking", they DEFINITELY need to be tossed. Catboxes are pretty cheap. Go to Petco and get some new ones and some litter liners.

    Esh on
  • AdusAdus Registered User regular
    I had a real similar problem to this recently and they would buy different litters randomly, but I noticed some worked a lot better than others. Some you wouldn't smell for days, while others would start to stink pretty much the first time the cat used it (which is naturally 5 minutes after you put it in).

    I wish I had paid enough attention to recommend a specific brand, so I suppose my suggestion is to just try some other types. I agree that the scented stuff isn't the way to go for multiple reasons.

    But what Esh said is pretty much what you need to do. New boxes. Covered.

    It was pretty brutal for me for a while since I was staying on their couch and had my PC set up in the living room literally right next to the box. It got pretty irritating because since I was the first one to smell it I'd inevitably be the person to clean it. I really don't like having to take care of pets that aren't mine...

  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'll let you know how it turns out, and I'm keeping my eye on this thread in case anyone else has any suggestions.

    The new boxes will probably fix it alone, but I'm also going to ask my parents what kind of litter we used to use, if they recall.

    Buttoneer, Brigadeer, and Keeper of the Book of Wil Wheaton.
    Triwizard Drinking Tournament - '09 !Hufflepuff unofficial conscript, '10 !Gryffindor
    Nerd blog at culturalgeekgirl.com
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I am more than normally sensitive to smell, I will admit, though again... I have lived with cats for many years, and never been really bothered by the smell as long as I cleaned the litter box daily. Admittedly, I've also never lived in a two-cat apartment before. Still, I have quite often at least visited with people who have multiple cats in an apartment, and never encountered this degree of problem. I didn't notice it in my friend's old apartment, but in that case she had a back bathroom that was disconnected from the rest of the apartment, whereas now I have the bedroom with the connected bathroom.

    She doesn't use litter liners, which may be a thing to suggest. The boxes are large and covered, but with a very wide mouth. I think this is the box. She has put plastic around the outside of the boxes because she says that occasionally in the past when cats have sprayed there has been some leakage out of the sides.

    I've noticed that I don't know if the filter-thing at the top of the box had ever been changed. I removed them and put it in a bag out on my porch, and it seems to have decreased the horror a bit. I'll have to try to buy a new one soon.

    The litter she's using is an arm-and-hammer multi-cat formula standard clump litter. Looking inside, I'm not sure if she's using enough litter; anyone know how many inches deep the litter should be? I used a very different style of box, so I'm not sure how to judge.

    After the move, I'm going to have to help her really properly fully clean those boxes, and I'll see if I get any hint of the odor after they're clean, or if it's possible to fully clean them. I'm also planning on buying an air filter and setting it up immediately next to wherever the boxes are.

    You say sprayed, are they fixed?

    Are they indoor or indoor/outdoor?

    With two cats she will have to scoop twice a day. They may also be roaming your apartment peeing on things to show displeasure or mark, especially if they have not been fixed. They may not like sharing a space, they may not like your shoes, they may just be little assholes, be sure it's the litter that stinks.

    If they're not fixed and roam around outside, I don't know what to say. You're living with a bad pet owner who probably wont change their habits.

    With 3 cats sharing a litterbox we got along quite happily scooping once when we woke up, once when we got home from work and once before bed, and then changing the litter every 3-4 days or so. Never any smell. When you go looking for litter make sure you get something natural and not that crystal nonsense, a lot of cats don't like that stuff and it's not good for them anyway. We used stuff from a local feed store that was a mixture of some sort of very dry clay and charcoal.

    dispatch.o on
  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    They are fixed (I think) and indoor. I'm almost certain it is the litter boxes (or at the very least the area around them), since I can tell the smell gets a lot stronger the closer I am to that room. When she said "spray" I think she just meant the cat was aiming poorly and hitting the side of the box.

    And there are two litterboxes for two cats, but I don't know how often she's changing the litter out completely.

    Buttoneer, Brigadeer, and Keeper of the Book of Wil Wheaton.
    Triwizard Drinking Tournament - '09 !Hufflepuff unofficial conscript, '10 !Gryffindor
    Nerd blog at culturalgeekgirl.com
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    They are fixed (I think) and indoor. I'm almost certain it is the litter boxes (or at the very least the area around them), since I can tell the smell gets a lot stronger the closer I am to that room. When she said "spray" I think she just meant the cat was aiming poorly and hitting the side of the box.

    And there are two litterboxes for two cats, but I don't know how often she's changing the litter out completely.

    Ahhh. We found our cats liked to piss in the corners of the box, but the problem was the corners were always the place they'd initially dig out. The solution was to buy a cat box that was covered and shaped more like an igloo. No corners.

    http://www.amazon.com/Booda-Dome-Cleanstep-Cat-Titanium/dp/B0002DH8L4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331989234&sr=8-2

    That's the box we had, and it worked awesome. It's also nice and dark so they tended to just drop it and go, the little walkway shook most of the litter off their feet, too. It was also fine for all 3 cats as long as we were diligent with the scooping 3 times a day and changing it twice a week minimum. Though they were all related so there were no territorial issues, you may still need two boxes.

    dispatch.o on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    This is tough because they're not your cats, but what are they being fed?

    My cats, if they eat something cheap (like Fancy Feast or a cheapo kibble), their poop REEKS. It's terrible. They're normally fed a very high quality diet, primarily meats, with just a little bit of kibble, and the only smell from the litter box is the occasional dusty clay smell. And they're 4 ft away from me as I type this.

    If they stink really badly, bring it up with your roommate. They're her cats, but if there's going to be a change it will have to come from her. I personally would check to see what they're being fed first and foremost -- good food will result in poop smelling better anyway.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • minirhyderminirhyder BerlinRegistered User regular
    EggyToast wrote: »
    They're normally fed a very high quality diet, primarily meats, with just a little bit of kibble, and the only smell from the litter box is the occasional dusty clay smell. And they're 4 ft away from me as I type this.

    My kitty eats exclusively Blue Buffalo and Welness, sometimes sprinkled with chunks of raw chicken or turkey and his poop smells sooo bad.
    I mean it smells like your typical carnivore poop, but y'know. Still stinks.



    Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    I feed my cats 3 things because they share one thing (Weruva wet food), and then one eats kibble while the other eats raw nuggets. If the kibble cat eats a lot of raw food, he gets the runs and his poop stinks, and if the raw food guy eats kibble, his poop smells a little worse than usual. They don't prefer the "bad" food anyway, but that's how I learned that it's not just the quality, but also how well it matches the cat.

    Basically, my point is that the food affects the poop. It makes sense when put that way, but I think a lot of people overlook it in pets.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Registered User regular
    I don't know what litter she uses, but this helped me a lot with my cat.

    16348.jpg

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I don't know what litter she uses, but this helped me a lot with my cat.

    16348.jpg

    I tried this stuff with my cats. Didn't work at all. YMMV though.

  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    The litter she's using is an arm-and-hammer multi-cat formula standard clump litter.

    I've always found the Arm & Hammer litters to be superb at controlling odor . . . What does she do with the litter after she cleans the boxes? Does she throw it out in the outside garbage (dumpster or whatever) right away?

    Yeah, the food choice can make a HUGE difference. I remember when my kittens were on Science Diet. AWFUL, HORRIBLE STENCH! After I put them on Kirkland (Costco's brand, which is quite high quality) the problem disappeared.

  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    And I found Arm & Hammer to do a terrible job with odor, but love Tidy Cats. We have four cats using one giant box (it's meant for dogs and when it's 1/2 full there's around 30-35 pounds of litter in there), scoop it once a day, add just a bit of baking soda to the litter and mix it in, and no smell.

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • Cultural Geek GirlCultural Geek Girl Registered User regular
    Thanks for all the advice, guys. We ditched the old boxes during the move and I haven't noticed anything since, but it's only been a few days. Right now the first box is in her closet, we were thinking of putting a second one in my bathroom so the cats don't get trapped in my bedroom by accident.

    I think it might have been partially the perfume in the arm and hammer stuff... it claims to "release a fresh scent" and it smells more perfumey than the old brand I used to use, so I'm going to get a different brand to use when we set up the box in my bathroom.

    Buttoneer, Brigadeer, and Keeper of the Book of Wil Wheaton.
    Triwizard Drinking Tournament - '09 !Hufflepuff unofficial conscript, '10 !Gryffindor
    Nerd blog at culturalgeekgirl.com
  • HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    And I found Arm & Hammer to do a terrible job with odor, but love Tidy Cats. We have four cats using one giant box (it's meant for dogs and when it's 1/2 full there's around 30-35 pounds of litter in there), scoop it once a day, add just a bit of baking soda to the litter and mix it in, and no smell.

    Yeah I use Tidy Cat. I have a covered box that two kitties use. I clean it daily. I never really notice a scent (except for right after they poo sometimes).

    If you're using the clay-based stuff, I have noticed that over time the dust from it can get on other things in the room if you're not careful (usually from when you scoop the box out). I have my box in the bathroom, so typically I'll just wipe down everything every other day when I clean the cat box. Smells good to me.

    camo_sig2.png
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