You wrinkle your nose as you’re about to clean your kitty’s litter box. Among other annoyances, his/her urine smells acrid and pungent. Out in the open, this wouldn’t be such an ordeal… but when enclosed in a litter box, those noxious vapors sure give the impression of coming straight from hell!
Is an overabundant use of Febreeze your only solution? Not at all! To eliminate foul odors at their source (without giving the cat up for adoption, please and thank you), science is the answer.
Feces contain a phenomenal quantity of bacteria. They eat, reproduce and go about other metabolic occupations that generate malodorous substances. Basically, it stinks and it’s normal.
But what about urine? Isn’t it supposed to be sterile? Well, not exactly: the bladder is still home to a few different bacteria. That being said, barring an infection, urine should not abound with microscopic life. The cause of its strong odor isn’t the same as with feces: ammonia (NH3) is the main perpetrator for urine’s characteristic odor This toxic chemical compound, derived from protein break-down, is transformed into urea by the liver. However, if it comes in contact with bacteria, urea can revert to ammonia. This would be why kitty’s urine smells particularly pungent when she or he has a urinary tract infection.
In a litter box, where urine and feces coexist, bacteria have free reign to break down urea and that ammonia smell intensifies. Worse still, this degradation can also produce mercaptans, a family of chemical compounds whose presence can lead to skunk-like odors!
In light of all this, here are a few things to look into:
- Check Oscar’s diet to better control his protein intake;
- Make sure Princess doesn’t suffer from a urinary tract infection;
- Reduce bacteria proliferation in the litter box.
Keeping the litter box dry is an excellent way to suppress bacteria growth: generally speaking, bacteria will reproduce more rapidly and thrive in a humid environment. There’s no better way to control moisture than with a Cateco Odor-Proof litter box: its unique design allows air to flow through litter, naturally and effectively, keeping it dryer. So, go ahead: take some of the stink out of cleaning the litter box!
by Geneviève Coudé
Our Popsci author-in-chief, Geneviève Coudé, brings us a myriad of fascinating and astonishing facts about our feline companions. Geneviève has a Master of Science in Ecology from Sherbrooke University, in Quebec, Canada. Her passion for sharing scientific knowledge has brought her to write in a variety of scientific medias addressed toward the general public. She currently collaborates on two French-Canadian television shows geared towards introducing adolescents and young adults to the fascinating world of science.
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