Moderncat’s Odor Elimination Survival Guide

Wed, Jan 26, 2011

Health & Nutrition

If you have cats — especially multiple cats — you are familiar with the constant battle against odor. I have searched and searched for the perfect pet odor elimination products and I think I’ve finally decided on a combination that works. Here is my Odor Elimination Survival Guide, plus an important tip about cat health and safety.

The Big Guns

My favorite product for serious odor elimination is Odorzout. This is a powdered mineral (Zeolite) that absorbs odors, kind of the way baking soda does, but it is much more powerful. Odorzout is all natural and completely safe for use around pets. I use the Odorzout All Surface Granules for big accidents on the floor. You have to sprinkle the powder on the floor, let it set, and then vacuum. I’m always amazed at how well it works! My other favorite Odorzout product is the Litter Additive Powder. I sprinkle this in the litter box and also in the little bucket where I scoop. Odorzout is labeled as cruelty-free.

Spray Away

It’s not always convenient to use a powder to eliminate odors, so I like to also have a spray on hand. I really liked Zero Odor, but we could not get confirmation from the manufacturer that it was not tested on animals during development, so I came across Nose Offense. They sent me some to test and I love it! The packaging is definitely not as sexy as Zero Odor, but it’s what’s in the bottle that counts. Just spray Nose Offense in the air and it immediately absorbs odors instead of masking them. It has no scent and it’s labeled as non-toxic, safe for animals, and not tested on animals.

A Special Touch

As a special little touch that doesn’t really eliminate odors, but makes life more enjoyable, I’m completely addicted to scented garbage bags, especially for the little bucket next to the litter box. They don’t really scent the air, they just make changing the trash bag a bit more pleasant. I like the vanilla and lavender varieties. You can find them at Target and most grocery stores.

WARNING: Essential Oils May Be Harmful to Cats!

These odor elimination products simply remove the bad odors without adding any perfumes or other scents. You may want to add a nice scent to the air, but please, be careful when choosing a scented air freshener to use around your cats. Chemical fragrances, like those used in commercial air fresheners, can cause eye and throat irritation in humans, so image how they are affecting cats. I always stay away from any chemical air freshener. So that leaves us with essential oils, which I have been a fan of for many years. Essential oils are wonderfully scented and are believed to have healing properties, but it is also believed that essential oils may be toxic to cats when either inhaled or used topically. As an article on outlines, a cat’s liver cannot properly metabolize the compounds found in essential oils. This may lead to liver damage and possibly death. A more technical description can be found in this article at The Lavender Cat. There are differing arguments on this topic, so I urge you to do your own research and come to your own conclusion.

Hydrosols May Be An Option

When essential oils are distilled, the byproduct is a scented water called a hydrosol. I have read that it may be safe to use hydrosols — also known as floral waters — around cats, but again there are differing opinions. If, after doing your own research, you decide to use hydrosols, make sure you are using a true hydrosol, not a floral water that was made by adding essential oils to water. My favorite brand is Wyndmere. They have several true hydrosols to choose from.

How do you fight odors?

Please leave a comment with your thoughts and tips on pet odor elimination. I’m always looking for a new trick!

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33 Responses to “Moderncat’s Odor Elimination Survival Guide”

  1. 1
    Stacy Cole

    This is the one downside to animals…here’s a great solution! YEAH!!!!

  2. 2

    I find that what I feed my cat usually has a direct affect on how bad the litter smells and so far Natural Balance L.I.D. has been the best. Swheat Scoop litter is also really good at controlling odor. The combo has worked wonders.

  3. 3

    I have found that by switching my cats to a largely raw diet. there is much less litterbox odor. I’ve been feeding either Primal or Rad Cat although I do still put out kibble as a back up. I really noticed the difference when I switched back to canned food (Wellness) for a few days – boy, didi the cat poop smell! So…. I am quite pleased with the raw. Also, I find the Feline Pine original quite effective with odor – I liked the clumping but had sawdust all over the house so I switched to the hard pellets of the Original and it works great.

  4. 4

    I have eight cats, and when people come to my home they say it is not evident that I even have a cat. I use Special Kitty Litter, and I add a sprinkle of baking soda to it. I have 2 large litter pans which are cleaned twice a day. That is about it for my special routine.

  5. 5

    Feline Pine cat litter! We have three male cats and I swear by this stuff! No harmful chemicals on the cats from a scented clumping or clay litter(Feline Pine original is all natural pressed pine pellets) and FP truly absorbs elimination odors! The only time we have an issue with odor is if one of the boys doesn’t fully ‘cover his business’ when he poops.

  6. 6

    Thanks for your offerings. I’ve been using World’s Best Kitty Litter (my friends & I call it World’s Most Expensive Kitty Litter, but the company claims you use less of it, and it’s probably true). It’s made of corn, it clumps without harm to cats, and it’s flushable, not harmful to septic systems. It completely absorbs odor and eliminates towing garbage bags.
    For ‘accidents’ I’m very happy with biokleen’s product Bac-Out stain & odor eliminator. It’s labeled non-toxic, biodegradable live enzyme cultures, no animal testing, no animal ingredients. It really does absorb odors and breaks down vomit & other wastes so that they’re easy to wipe up, leaving no stain, even on my pink rug, which seems to be the best place to vomit. Amazing! I’m grateful.

  7. 7

    There are 9 cats in this household and long before the count was this high I found Odorzout…I forget where I heard about it, but it has been a mainstay here. There are 4 litter boxes which are scooped twice a day. Thank you for the other terrific information provided! I will try the Nose Offense, and good to know about essential oils.

  8. 8

    I too changed the diet of my cats. After much trial and error I found that one of my cats (the one with the most odor offense) has an issue with any type of fowel (chicken or duck) so I switched them to an all fish based diet and the litter box odor is much less severe. I blend three kibbles together EVO, Natural Balance and Call of the Wild.
    I am anxious to try these products though – thanks for doing the great research!

  9. 9

    Best thing – train the cat to use the human toilet. It’s amazing, and my house does not smell of cat.

  10. 10

    Odorzout is FANTASTIC stuff. Great for the litter box but it also can remove stinkbug smell from cat fur. I know this because our Maine Coon got sprayed by a stinkbug and was extremely distressed. The bottle says you can pack the powder onto a dog where a skunk sprayed to remove the scent. So we carefully did the same on our big guy, packing a thin layer onto the two areas he was hit, letting it sit for 10 seconds, then brushing it off. No smell at all. We wiped the dust off with a damp cloth, just in case.
    Also, the Odorzout laundry additive can be a life saver. Whether you have a kitty with bad habits (or health issues), soured towels from a forgotten wash load, or stinky clothes left over from a workout, the laundry additive will take out the smell entirely. It will even remove the smell of your detergent, with just one tablespoon.
    Wow. I sound like some sort of advertisement. But I do love this stuff, it works and it is safe. It doesn’t set our sensitive kitty to sneezing (scented trash bags would send her into a sneezing fit).
    The packaging is a little… off putting. But it really is a great product.

  11. 11

    My vet recommended an enzymatic odor remover called Anti-Icky-Poo made by a company called Mister Max. It has a ridiculous name, but it works amazingly well. It has removed cat pee smell from things (rugs, clothes, furniture, concrete basement floors) with one application. Amazing. I foster cats and sometimes they come with elimination issues, so this has really come in handy!!!

  12. 12

    Scoop Away and Fresh Step multiple cat formula + cleaning the used stuff in their box about twice a day does the job for me and my two kittehs. We’ve got also some emergency air refreshener can, but that’s used way more often to cover … umm, the human litterbox odors than the cats.

  13. 13
    slave to cats

    I have probably used them all being in resue for so long and OdoBan is what I would say is the best. Even better than the Icky Poo which I ranked first and thought nothing would beat that. It completely does the job and leaves NO cat scent behind, even the stinkiest of “accidents”. It comes in lavendar and eucalyptus but not overpowering, most of all it leaves a clean scent. Home Depot now carries it but they sell it out fast. I also add some to my laundry to freshen it up in the clothes washer.

  14. 14

    Woe, thank you for the info about essential oils. I had no idea. When I first adopted Buster, he was unneutered and yowling and spraying like crazy. I bought the feliway spray with another diffuser, but my lavender essential oil was cheaper, so I used that in the diffuser all the time. Months later Buster had an acute medical crisis, the doctor said his “liver was assaulted.” Tgey couldn’t figure out why. He got better, thank god, but now I’m wondering if rhenium was what caused it. It’s now almost two years later, and he is perfectly healthy, but I will never diffuse essential oils again. Thank you Modern Cat for bringing this to my attention!

  15. 15

    A long time ago, my aunt recommended NilOdor for stinky situations of any kind. Just one drop neutralizes odors from pretty much anything. My family’s elderly large dog started having accidents in the house so we’d put a drop on to a kleenex and leave that on a table and the scent was gone within minutes. This is great especially during cold snaps in the winter when I can’t leave any windows open for more than a few minutes. It’s non toxic to humans and pets, has very little smell of it’s own and works wonderfully. Whenever I use it, I still do the drop on a kleenex out of reach to my cats. I don’t really want to test out the definition of non toxic. My sister and I always debate which are better, dogs or cats. Her huge dog makes huge doo-doo’s and of course she has to pick them up, the grossest is during his daily walks. But somehow she still thinks this is better than a cat doing it’s business inside the home. Of course, I completely disagree. What we can agree on is NilOdor, for big stinkies and little ones too!

  16. 16

    Thank you for researching this and for confirming that the products have not been tested on animals. I agree with Nina, diet plays a big part in litter box odor.

  17. 17

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing this information. We have tried just about everything, and look forward to trying Odorzout and Nose Offense. We recently discovered Anti-Icky-Poo, both scented and unscented, a bacterial/enzyme animal/people safe product. I buy it by the gallon on and refill my sprayer bottles. It works on just about everything–pee, poop, throw-up, hairballs–on any surface. We have a clowder of 12, all neutered/spayed, 7 males, 5 females, ranging in age from 16 year to 10 months. We have six litter boxes, including a “litter room” that is a basement utility closet that my husband vented into our garage and can be entered through a cat door as well as closet door. Several of our furbabies were behavioral “misfits” or abandonees that we took on. They are generally well adjusted and people-loving. One, when stressed, pees anywhere he pleases. He’s a bit of a pariah–was brought up with dogs and isn’t sure about life with cats, and the others sense it. He bit me on day one of adoption last year and sent me to the hospital for 3 days, too, but truly, I hold no grudge! Anyway, we do find that Feliway infusers and “calming” collars seem to help him and reduce random peeing. Our noses have become hypersensitive to cat odors. My goal is to have people enter our house and say they’d never guess we have 12 cats based on smell! Have to check out World’s Best Kitty Litter, but with our monthly cat food bills and yearly vet visit expenses, it may be out of our price range.

  18. 18

    Really useful post —-

    After years of using WBCL, I started looking for an alternative because they did away with their reward/coupon program and the price kept going up. Plus, I thought it was good litter but not the be all and end all to justify the price increase.

    Switched to Feline Pine unscented and the only complaint I have is that it sticks to everything! I have to be at the ready with the whisk broom so that Francesca doesn’t sweep the litter all over the floor….

    I use Mrs. Meyer’s products – geranium scent – now I’m wondering if they’re OK to use around her…time to do some homework!

    Lastly, I hear everyone about how different foods result in more/less smell…..

    Alas….no matter what I’ve have fed her, her poop smells so bad that I think it’s time to invest in a gas mask before cleaning the box…..

  19. 19

    Those products sound great! Around our home, we rely on Nature’s Miracle Just For CATS enzymatic cleaner for everyday needs; for the really bad stuff, I get out the BISSELL SPOT-BOT “PET” spot shampooer and use the accompanying formulas, with hot water. No worries after using this. Yes, it’s an initial expense, but it more than pays for itself in peace of mind — and a clean house.

  20. 20

    I love the product called Zero Odor. It was tested at Tufts by the vets and works extremely well. You can spray it right on the cat’s litter and it has no scent (or only a slight, but clean one) that does not linger.

    It works on all smells, not just pets!

    You can buy it online at

    It is also available at Bed Bath and Beyond.

  21. 21

    I use a scented lysol spray after I clean the box. I have a booda dome litter box, the sides are really high. I just spray the sides lightly and top of litter when Im done cleaning. Seems to work great. We have three cats and my husband was complaing he always smelled the litter box. Vey sensitive nose! The complaints seemed to have stopped. Diet is important too.

  22. 22

    This is too funny. I was just telling a friend of mine about the best odor elimination product that I purchased about a month ago called…
    Nose Offense! I’ve tried them all, but not one product was 100% fail-proof for my 3 cats. I have terrible allergies to any type of fragrance so this product is exactly what I needed, and just like you said, I love it!

  23. 23
    Lisa Roth

    Thanks for the great piece about kitty odors. Friends always tell me that they can’t believe I have three cats because the place never smells.

    My secret is also Zeolite, but in a mesh bag hanging next to the litter box. You can buy them here:

    Every year or so they need to lie in direct sun for about eight hours which gives them a total recharge and then they’re good to go for another year. Also use them in damp or potentially mildewy places like closets, bathrooms, etc.

  24. 24
    Missive Maven

    Like a couple of other commenters above, I swear by Anti-Icky-Poo. We always keep it on hand, especially for our male cat who has some inappropriate urination problems. Smell NEVER remains with anti-icky-poo, whatever the source…. something about the enzymes it uses. I prefer unscented products and appreciate that it doesn’t leave behind any masking scent. AND, the enzymes help unclog the drains, so I use it in the bathroom drains as well! I won’t be trying any new products, because we have what works for us.

  25. 25

    Odour elimination (particularly of accidents) should be done with your cat’s nose in mind too. Products containing bleach-type substances (e.g. urea) smell like a foreign cat’s pee to your cat – so if there’s been an “accident” because your little pal feels anxious about invaders, your cleaning effort will just smell like they need to reinforce their presence with further pee/spray. I use a combination of things: biological laundry detergent, to break down the proteins; then something like surgical spirit (do you call that rubbing alcohol in the US?) or vodka to break down the fats. I make up the biological laundry detergent with a bit of warm water (not hot – it’ll kill the enzymes) and apply it to the area. A little while later go over it again with the alcohol. Once dry, Tiddles is no longer reminded of the incident and neither are you by a repeat performance.

    I learnt the hard way many years ago about cats and essential oils. I nearly killed my Gizmo cat by giving him what I thought would be a “natural” flea treatment of a couple of drops of lavender oil on his coat everyday. Gizmo would look daggers at me every time I applied the stuff, but I carried on thinking I was doing him a favour. Eventually it affected his liver (or kidneys, I forget which) and he became a dribbling, poisoned mess. Luckily, he came through it once the vet and I worked out what I’d been doing. Always trust your cat’s nose! If they don’t like the pong, make sure with someone like the vet before carrying on.

    Disinfectants and creosote can have similar effects on cats too I believe.

  26. 26

    I live abroad in Germany and have a heck of a time finding any products to sufficiently deal with pet odor. The market here just doesn’t seem to exist. Every once in a while I get lucky and score something off eBay. Right now I’m using UrineOff spray to deal with an adopted cat that seems to take issue with my vintage 60′s living room set. I had Zero Odor on my list for my next trip back to the US. Now I have some more products to add to the list (thanks!).

    Anyone else living abroad in Europe with a line on either local sources or the local names of familiar US brands? Even the UK is slim pickings, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong place…

  27. 27
    Ingrid King

    Thank you for including the warning against essential oils. I’d caution against using even hydrosols around cats. There is no testing required, and you can’t be 100% sure that you’re really getting a hydrosol. Additionally, there is not enough reliable information available yet that hydrosols are safe to use around cats.

    The Lavender Cat provides great information on cats and essential oils, and I’d encourage everyone who’s even considering to use essential oils around cats to look around the site:

  28. 28
    Jaime Rembo

    Hello Kate & all of the moderncat readers!
    We at NOse Offense are SO thrilled that you have become a great fan of our product! Thank you for helping us extend the word out to our pet community – our patent pending formula is magic, everyone should know about it! Not only do we never test on animals, we are also natural & organic. We’re also very proud to manufacture both our product AND packaging to be environmentally friendly.

    You can check us out here:
    Please don’t hesitate to send us any questions you may have about our product:

    Cheers to a smell-free life with your pets! ;)

  29. 29

    BioZet laundry powder! I use it to mop the floors and spot clean. I use BioZet and bicarb to clean the litter box and sprinkle bicarb in with the litter as well.

  30. 30

    Wow, thank you for the info on essential oils used on or around animals. I felt like this is something I should have already known about. The link for thelavendercat dot com was very informative. Thanks!

  31. 31

    Thanks for sharing the info about the essential oils. I read about that not too long ago and I was shocked. When my Missy was a kitten she had a URI and we were trying different things to help her breathe easier. Well, we tried some oils (eucalyptus, tea tree, & camphor) with a homemade humidifier and LUCKILY it did not harm her!! Whew…

    Also, I saw on the Odorzout website that their products are endorsed by the Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb. On her site she talks about a new product she likes called Pee Whiz. (Where do they come up with these names!?) She says its great for urine, vomit and waste stains. It is also 100% biodegradable and natural enzyme based. It is safe for the environment and pets and their people. The product and its packaging are all made in the USA. I personally have not tried it but I thought it sounded good for stain removal.

    Thanks for everyone’s recommendations. Now I know what to buy when I need them. :)

  32. 32

    I have tried many products over the years due to my love of all sorts of pets. Being a foster dog parent, I have had many dogs in my home, from puppies to older dogs. I found a company called BioLogix that makes environmental products and the two that I would HIGHLY recomend to anyone with pets are the Pet odor and spot eliminator and my favorite is a product called dropzone…eliminates any odor instantly and has the best smell ever…Just my two cents


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