How To Neutralize Ammonia in Cat Litter?

How To Neutralize Ammonia in Cat Litters

Cat owners know how difficult it can be to remove smells from the litter box. The urea in the cat urine breaks down into ammonia and carbonic acid with the help of the enzyme urease. Ammonia has a distinct smell that our human noses are very sensitive to. 

Ammonia, when it accumulates in large volumes, can also be toxic. It can cause irritation to lung tissue as well as respiratory issues for both animals and humans when inhaled. 

The smell can get out of hand when the litter box is not cleaned on a regular basis. Even if the box is cleaned regularly it can still be difficult to get rid of the odor of ammonia.

So, how does a cat owner neutralize the ammonia in their pet cat’s litter box? Keep reading to find out.

How do I neutralize the ammonia in my cat’s litter box?

You can neutralize the ammonia in your cat’s litter box by following these steps:

Clean out the litter box regularly 

  • Scoop out solid and liquid clumps in the cat’s box at least twice a day.
  • If possible, clean the cat’s litter box at least once a week, or at the very least every two weeks. 
  • Use soap, water and a diluted cleaning solution. Dry it completely before putting in new cat litter. 
  • Make sure that the litter is 2 to 2.5 inches deep. This is to ensure that your cat won’t scratch the tray when they cover up their urine or feces, and also so the urine does not seep into the bottom and reach the tray.
  • Clumping litter must be disposed of on a daily basis and replaced with new litter.
  • You can apply a layer of baking soda before putting the cat litter layer to help in absorbing the unpleasant smell.

1. You can use a covered litter box.

A covered litter box has a hood over the actual tray. This can help keep the smells inside the box, but keep in mind that some cats are not fond of covered litter boxes because they want to be able to see their surroundings when they go to the bathroom.

2. Self-cleaning litter boxes

You can give self-cleaning boxes a try, but keep in mind that they can be quite expensive. Also, some skittish cats may not like to use it.

3. Urease inhibitors

Urease is the enzyme that breaks down urea into ammonia and carbonic acid, thus creating the strong smell. You can put inhibitors on your cat’s litter to deter the production of ammonia.

4. Antimicrobials

Urease is produced by bacteria, then the urease breaks down the ammonia. So, by using antimicrobial or antibacterial products on the litter, this eliminates the bacteria, leading to no production of urease. 

Some antimicrobials come as sprays and have pleasant odors that will help with the masking of the bad odors even more.

5. Keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area

It is recommended that cat owners put the litter box in a part of the house with good air circulation. Avoid putting them in closed, dark, and dank areas which are great environments for the propagation of bacteria.

Other tips for changing your litter box

  • The cat’s litter tray should be large enough to accommodate three cats at the same time. This is because cats love to take their time when going to the bathroom and love having tons of space to move around in.
  • Do not change the placement of the cat’s litter box too often. Cats love sticking to their routines and they prefer to go to the bathroom in the same place as much as possible.
  • Make sure to replace your cat’s litter tray and box every one to two years, or even earlier if you notice any premature wear.


Ammonia is the by-product of urea in your cat’s urine. Ammonia can be harmful to you and your family, as well as your pets, when inhaled. Avoid the production of ammonia fumes by cleaning the cat’s litter regularly, use reliable cleaning products when washing the litter tray, use antibacterial sprays and urease inhibitors to stop the action of the bacteria present in the litter box, and keep the litter box in a well-ventilated part of your house to allow the gas to dissipate.

Image: / Axel Bueckert