Thanks for all the advice. I'll probably end up trying everything til we find something that works. She used to use febreez a lot, but I'm allergic to 99% of scented stuff and perfumes, so she stopped using that because after an hour, I'd have to leave. It hurts her feelings when I stay in a motel and that was all well and good when it was just one night, but will be multiple nights at a time in the months ahead. I made it through 2 nights the last trip, but the 3rd night I HAD to pop for a motel room.
I'm pretty sure they have 2 cat boxes, but I've only ever seen the cats use one of them.
Besides the cats, they have 2 small children and they both have demanding jobs and work long hours. I have no idea how we're going to get through all this! I'm 3 hours away and have to hire someone to do my stuf here when I go to help there. I've told daughter that within a month she is no longer allowed to clean the cat boxes, as her immune system will be supremely compromised. She says if she doesn't do it it won't get done. Will have to have a talk with her hubby and I need to find the easiest method to make sure he keeps it clean. Most of the time he can't get off work to spend half a day with her to do treatments. I don't want her to go alone - feel she needs the support and someone to distract her and help with the kids. I also feel that if the odor makes me sick, can't be doing all that much for them either = even if they're accustomed to it.
Thanks again. Can we just say I REALLY appreciate my BARN CATS?! LOL
The ONLY solution: clean it at LEAST once daily. Otherwise it will smell no matter what you use. It does not take much time at all if you do it daily.
I have two cats that are willing to share a litter box, but some aren't. The last thing you want to do is rely on perfume-y stuff to cover up the smell. If you need that, you are NOT cleaning it often enough and the poor kitties have to deal with the hidden smell (especially a problem with a covered box that's not cleaned enough) and may decide going elsewhere (clean/dirty clothes, bed, etc) is more fun.
I know it's demanding, but if they are not willing to clean each box once a day, then they need to get an automatic one. If you clean it every day, it is really about a 2 minute process max per box - there is time, it's just nobody likes to do it.
She would probably need 2 of the LARGE size at least for 4 cats. The little clasps that hold each side together don't last forever, but the boxes aren't that expensive. It's a decent option to an auto box. There are some drawbacks, but it made me much better about keeping the box clean.
I also use Nature's Miracle to clean out the box every now and again.
It is also best in ANY box to use a LOT of litter. You don't want the pee to be able to get all the way to the bottom of the box, that's when the smell becomes pretty permanent - it soaks into the plastic and is pretty impossible to remove.
So, auto litter box or cleanings at LEAST once a day. You can also add a lot of other litter boxes if there is space. That can cut down on cleanings. But still, even if there is one per cat, they really do need to be scooped daily.
Or maybe they need to rehome a couple of the kitties?
I too use the old school non scoopable tidy cat for multiple cats. To me it is way less stinky.
Use a liner in the box and complety change them out every 3 or 4 days
I lightly spray and wipe bleach spray in the box when changing them out.
I have 5 cats and 4 boxes and no odor.
I've got 3 100% indoor pussies, "...and I am unanimous about that" (Mrs. Slocumb).
I'm a believer in having one litter box more than I have cats...I've got 4 of the things and I use the big grey "bus trays" you see at restaurants. http://www.cleaningproductsworld.com...x-7h-gray.html They're deep and big enough so the turds stay in the box. You can buy these at Sam's Club or Costco. They make the best litter boxes.
I like the Swheats Natural Wheat Litter...also the Tidy Cat Scoopable for Mutltiple Cats works (and it goes on sale a lot...buy one/get one).
one more thing: you can buy liners and disposable litter boxes made from essentially paper mache. I would not opt for those long term, but in times of crisis to minimize exposure and save time they seem to be a good Idea: just grab and toss.
Originally Posted by Mozart
Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.
How small are the kids? If they are at least school age, they could take responsibility for the litter boxes. My kid has been cleaning litter boxes since she was 10. She wanted cats so she got litter box duty.
I use Arm & Hammer clumping litter for my big dumb cat - I try to buy the unscented "Multi-Cat" kind, because it does clump very well, and I don't like the scented stuff - it's a litterbox, not a lingerie drawer. (Big dumb cat is slightly less picky, and doesn't get fussy if I have to buy the A&H slightly scented kind - it's their new one that advertises that it controls "Urine and Feces Odors" on the box - it has minimal fragrance.).
I'd agree with everyone who says that more boxes than cats is VERY helpful and that scooping multiple times a day is absolutely essential. I have one cat, but 4 dogs - cat is sort of OK if the box isn't pristine (though he ALWAYS uses the box immediately after it's been scooped, so I suspect he, too prefers a clean box), but the dogs find litter box leavings tempting. I find that if the box is somewhere convenient (like in your bathroom, or on the way between two frequently used spaces), you're much more likely to do a quick scoop and toss than if it's somewhere out of the way. I do keep a small lidded trash can that's reserved for cat litter only right next to the box, and that helps make it less of a chore.
I would caution you about changing litter types/brands/boxes - I really wanted to use that World's Best Cat Litter, because of the biodegradable thing (figured we could sort of "compost" the litter, instead of just dumping it in the trash).... that was, according to the big dumb cat, a VERY BAD IDEA. He pretty well un-litter trained himself in a couple of days, and I spent months cleaning cat pee off of the floor and $$ at the vet's office to verify that yes, this was a behavior issue, not a physical one, while we re-established that I wouldn't ever try to foist such a horror on him again. Tried to get him a new style of litterbox, too (one of the top entry ones) - more of the same, though thankfully resolved pretty quickly by replacing the evil enclosed box with a more open one.
Just be careful about changing things up too much - it really does sound like more frequent cleaning of the box is probably the easiest fix in this situation... maybe just get hubby a bigger scoop, so he can get it done quicker?
I hate to say, but usually cat odor in the house means cats peed outside the litterbox. If the owners are only offering one cruddy box, it would not surprise me to find cats found an alternate site. (People are not impressed with gas station bathrooms are they??) You / they have to offer at least 2 clean boxes, and stay on the job to keep them clean.
Start with buying new litterboxes. The pee smell builds up, not matter what you do. Plastic retains odors. You might be able to park the old ones in the garage or someplace inaccessible and let the stink air out, then rotate them back in in a few months. Maybe. But not soon.
I have three full sized cats, one of whom is Maine Coon Cat size. They are indoor cats.
I bought the largest hooded cat boxes that KMart sells. 2 big boxes for 3 cats.
My cats actually prefer the hoods on the boxes, because they feel protected. (Go figure, lol.) But another cat can't jump them when they're in the box, so the hoods made them happy, as evidenced by everyone voluntarily used the new hooded box and shunned the brand new open box. So, I put the hoods both, and both boxes are used.
I also use the Tidy Cats 25# multiple cat clay litter. I get it at Dollar General. $4.50 or something, and each bag does one box with about 1/4 bag leftover. I put a lot of litter in the boxes. I scoop the boxes daily and I toss the litter after one week, and I scrub the box with soap and water before I refill it. This litter curbs odors and is relatively inexpensive.
When I fill the boxes, I do it outdoors and I pour the litter out from a height of maybe 2.5 feet, so that the breeze carries off the fines. Tidy Cat has less fines than the cheap clay litters, which don't appear to have been sieved at all. I don't want my cats breathing clay dust, nor do I want the fines tracked around the house.
Before that, I used the clumping litter they sell in plastic jugs at Aldi. For quite a few years. It was also very good at odor control and a breeze to clean up. I put a whole jug in one of those big litter boxes, and added some during the week if I removed a lot via scooping. I also dumped those boxes once a week.
But, Aldi kept raising the price, and the amount of fines in the jug kept increasing, and clumping litter can set up in bowels and create an obstruction, so I quit buying it except if I'm pressed for time and don't want to make an extra stop. It's been almost 6 month since I bought any of that litter, so I can't speak for the quality and effectiveness of it now.
ADDED: The Tidy Cats I use is their "24/7 performance" non-clumping kind. They currently are putting some $1.00 off coupons in the bags ( one per bag) good until July 11 of 2011. Makes each 25# bag $3.50 at Dollar General. If all three cats really load up a box, it might get some ammonia odor if it's really wet, but I don't get pee smells. I have one spayed female and two neutered males.
Lovey makes an excellent point. At least one litter box per kitty is a must. I use Scoop Away (scented) for years and have not had any problems, but I understand some cats are sensitive to the perfumes.
Good on your daughter for having a multi-cat home!
I'm sorry that your daughter is not doing well and requiring treatment. I realize people have to work and such too. But damnit, where is her husband in this? She is sure lucky she has a mom who CAN go help out.
And further, this cat thing--it's not going to matter what litter is used if it's not getting cleaned regularly. End of story. So if hubby isn't going to chip in and you don't want to clean the boxes yourself, I'd just get the disposable liners and toss those in the garbage during the time you're staying with your daughter.
It's gross to me that they have little kids breathing that in too. Yuck.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Scoop Away, clumping, unscented. It does sound like you're going to need to take the bull by the horns and toss the old boxes, buy a bunch of new ones, possibly switch litter or just try cleaning a couple times/day for a while and see how that influences the smell. Next step would be to buy a black light and go around looking for places they've gone outside the box... your daughter may be surprised... then start treating with Nature's Miracle. If the household is stressed due to her health problems, the cats may be stressed too and their way of showing it may be to go outside the box. Look at the back of closets, back corner of the bathroom behind the toilet, corners of the living room by the ends of the couch... take the black light around the house at cat-butt-height and see what you find.
Another thought: some people clean the boxes into another nearby container and let it fill up for a while before carrying it outside, other people take the stuff outside immediately after cleaning. If they're the container type, maybe try cleaning the box and putting the stuff immediately into the trash. We clean into a little pail then dump the pail in an empty dog food bag in the garage, so no extra plastic bags in the landfill.
I am far from an expert in cats, but from occasionally taking care of other people's cats, I would say:
* Add litter boxes. If it were me, I would have 4 litter boxes.
* Regardless of what litter, you have to clean it a lot. Think of going into a Johnny-on-the-Spot. Unless that thing has ust been cleaned, it stinks like . . . well, what it is. I think her husband really has two options: (1) fit cleaning the litter boxes into his day, every day; (2) finding someone, like perhaps a neighbor kid who is old enough (if their children are very young), and negotiating a weekly rate for cleaning the litter boxes daily. If you leave a cat litter box uncleaned for any length of time, it will stink. Trust me on this. Twice a day would be best, once a day at a bare minimum.
* Be careful about switching the litter up too much, if they are using the boxes reliably. You don't want to mess up a good thing. As long as they are getting it in the litter box, they are doing their part. They can't clean the box, though.
Or you could try toilet training them
Best wishes to you, your daughter and her family. It doesn't sound like an easy situation in the least.