Don’t Spray Febreze on Cat Litter, This Is Why

You should not spray Febreze on cat litter because it could cause your cat to avoid their litterbox. Instead, use a litter that absorbs smells and clean the litterbox regularly to avoid odor buildup. If you need to deodorize between cleanings, try sprinkling some baking soda into the litter.

In this article, I’ll talk about whether it’s okay to spray Febreze on cat litter, if Febreze is cat safe, how to use it around your cat, and alternatives for keeping the litterbox odor-free.


Spraying Febreze on Cat Litter can Cause Litterbox Avoidance

Litter box avoidance is when your cat doesn’t use the litter box. This can be caused by various things, including scents.

Cats are very sensitive to smells. Their noses are fourteen times more sensitive than ours.

Once a cat has peed somewhere, they’ll continue to do so again and again so long as their scent remains in that place.

But the opposite can also happen, where the litter box smells so foreign that your cat doesn’t want to pee there anymore.

It’s recommended that you don’t use any kind of scents in your cat’s litter box, including scented cat litter. Rather than masking the smell, keep the litter box clean to avoid it becoming stinky.


Cat Litter Should be Completely Unscented

Scented cat litter and other air fresheners are also a no-go when it comes to the litter box. All of these can deter your cat from peeing or pooping where they’re supposed to.

It can also make the experience unpleasant for a cat that does behave as they should, using the box even though they don’t like the scent of it.

Rather than a scented litter, choose a litter that absorbs scents. This will keep the scent at bay between scooping.

Never change your cat’s litter type overnight, but instead slowly mix the new litter in with the old litter. A quick change might make your cat avoid the box.


Clean the Box Regularly to Keep it Odor-Free

To keep your box odor-free without added scents or air fresheners:

  • Have at least two litter boxes. If you have multiple cats, you’ll need more than this—the general rule is one litter box per cat, plus one.
  • Scoop them daily. If you or your cat is particularly sensitive, you may need to scoop more often than this.
  • Deep clean each box weekly or when they begin to smell even after scooping. To deep clean a litter box, empty the litter, scrub the box inside and out, and rinse it thoroughly. Dry it completely, then add fresh litter.

Use mild cleaners such as Dawn dish soap, rather than harsh chemicals or strong-scented products.
Never use bleach to clean a litter box. Cat pee contains ammonia, which creates toxic fumes when mixed with bleach.

  • Remember to clean around the litter box as well. Sometimes accidents happen, and your cat pees or poops just outside of the box or behind it. Each time you deep-clean the box, clean around it to prevent odors from building up.
    If you find any messes or stains, I recommend using a pet enzyme spray to get rid of the smell. Just make sure you clean up any spilled litter first—getting litter wet will make it turn to clay, which is very difficult to get out of carpeting.


Make Sure the Box is the Right Size

Many times, litter boxes begin to smell quickly because they’re the wrong size for your cat. This can cause them to pee or poop on the side of the box or even over the edge.

I have definitely made this mistake. My cats used to squat inside the litter box with their butts over the edge, their poop ending up on the ground!

I had no idea why this was happening. Clearly, my cats thought they were doing the right thing by being in the litter box. They’d even try to bury their poop, despite it not being in the litter.

I wondered, were they just not smart enough to figure out how to use the box properly?

It turned out, I just have large cats—and the litter boxes I bought were way too small for them.

A litter box should be at least as long as your cat so that they can stand in it on all fours and squat without any of their body hanging outside of the box.

If your cats are like mine and have accidents outside the box, consider purchasing one with tall sides so that it’s more contained.

However, be careful to ensure your cat can still climb in and out easily. Sometimes senior cats or those with joint problems will struggle with taller litter boxes.


Keep Your Cat Healthy for Less Smelly Poop

Feed your cat a well-balanced diet and avoid people foods, which can mess with your cat’s stomach and make their poop smellier.

Bring them to the veterinarian for a check-up at least once a year, or if their poop smells abnormally bad.

Parasites and certain illnesses can make your cat’s poop smell worse, along with other side-effects, so it’s important to keep an eye on their health.


Try Baking Soda Instead of Febreze

If you need to deodorize the litter box between cleanings, try baking soda instead of Febreze.

Baking soda absorbs odors without the strong smell of an air freshener.


You Can Use Febreze Around Your Cat—Here’s How

While you shouldn’t use Febreze in your cat’s litter box, it has been proven safe for use around cats.

The ASPCA says Febreze is non-toxic, but may cause skin irritation if your cat lies in it while it’s wet, or stomach irritation if your cat consumes it.

Never spray Febreze on your cat directly, but spraying it in the air is completely fine. You might want to keep your cat away until it dissipates to avoid it landing on their skin while wet.

I recommend against spraying toys or bedding because cats are sensitive to scents and may dislike it, causing them to avoid those items.

However, it’s up to you—just be sure to let it dry before your cat uses their things again.

Writer: Katelynn Sobus

I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry.  My full bio