Litterbox issues – dealing with ‘accidents’ and odours in your house

Just like dogs, cats can also have ‘accidents’ in the house. This often happens in the form of spraying, or sometimes your cat will simply stop using her litterbox, leaving you completely confused. The good news is that there are reasons for your cat’s behaviour regarding this, and Animaltalk is here to help.


Unfortunately spraying is natural behaviour for cats – they are not being naughty. There are many different reasons why cats spray, including the presence of other cats in what your cat considers her own territory, or anxiety over a new person in the house. If you can determine the cause, it will be easier to manage – your vet will be able to assist. Once you know why your cat displays this behaviour, your vet will recommend appropriate ways to manage it. This might include neutering, Feliway spray (which has a calming effect on cats), medication or behavioural modification with the help of an animal behaviourist.

Rejecting the litterbox

It might leave you extremely frustrated when all of a sudden your cat doesn’t want to use her litterbox anymore. One of these might be the reason:

  • Your cat might be unwell. Take her to the vet to eliminate any medical causes.
  • Your cat needs more privacy. Move the litterbox to a quieter part of the house and see if she returns.
  • Cats are also not crazy about the smell. Try changing the litter on a more regular basis.
  • Did you recently change the litterbox? It could be that she simply doesn’t like the new one.
  • The same goes for the cat litter you use. Your cat can start to dislike it. Try a different kind and see if the situation improves.

Cleaning up

Getting rid of the smell can be a challenge, especially on carpets. Here are some tips for freshening the air in your house again.

  • Baking soda. Dampen the smelly area and sprinkle baking soda over it. Rub it into the carpet and leave to dry. Vacuum to remove excess baking soda.
  • White vinegar. Mix 1ℓ warm water and ½ cup white vinegar and dribble onto the stain. Place dry towels over the stained area and put something heavy over the towels to increase pressure. Remove the towels after a few hours.
  • Visit your nearest vet shop for the latest sprays that can get rid of odours.

If you are using a chemical cleanser, make sure that it doesn’t contain any ammonia. As this smells like cat urine (see box), it will encourage your cat to return to the same spot.

Why the smell?

Smelly and pungent, cat urine is notorious for its horrible smell. One of the main reasons it smells so bad is because cats are simply more discreet than dogs, and you don’t always notice where she urinated. The urine is broken down by bacteria, which causes ammonia to be released. Ammonia is the chemical that is responsible for the smell.


Line your cat’s litterbox with a plastic bag for easy removal of used litter. Throw it away outside.


A sprinkling of baking soda at the bottom of the litterbox can help eliminate unpleasant odours.


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