According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), three in ten (or 34.7 million) U.S. households own at least one cat. If you’re one of those households, you know the joy that cats bring to your life. You also know the smell they bring to your home.
Sure, cats are notorious for grooming, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a particular odor. You see, while cats groom their fur, they groom that fur with mouths that have all kinds of scents. That seafood pate you fed Little Miss Fufu an hour ago, that smell was instantly transferred to her fur 10 minutes after eating when she gave herself a tongue bath.
And let’s not even TALK about the cartoon skull and crossbones rising from Mz. Fufu’s litterbox. Even when scooped daily, litterboxes become scratched up, and these crevices are the perfect place for bacteria to hide.
So, is there anything that can be done about these smells? Or is life with the Fuffs destined to be a doggone – er – catgone smelly one?
Will an Air Purifier Help with Cat Smell?
The short answer is yes. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.
Air purifiers remove a variety of pollutants from your home’s air, depending on the filter used. Most air purifiers will come with one if not two filtration systems built in. Each filtration system is designed to remove either particulate airborne matter or gaseous matter.
You’ve probably heard of HEPA filtration systems. HEPA filters are %99.97 effective at trapping particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. Just how small is that? Consider that the average human hair is between 70 and 100 microns in size and you get an idea of how minute 0.3 microns is.
This means HEPA filters are great at trapping tiny particles like bacteria, dust mites, pollen and mold spores. And while HEPA filters can also trap pet dander, dander typically causes allergic reactions and doesn’t itself have an odor.
Odors are gaseous materials, and though HEPA filters are fantastic at trapping microscopic particles, they can’t trap odorous gasses. For that job you require an activated carbon filter. These filters are specially made to have a very large surface area that can trap gasses that cause your home to smell not-so-nice, and even volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassed from things like carpeting, paint and your furniture.
Other Things to Consider When Purchasing an Air Purifier for Cat Odors
Your first job is to look for an air purifier that has both a HEPA filter as well as an activated carbon filter to get the most “clean air” bang for your buck. But that’s not all you need to consider.
Replace Those Filters
Your HEPA and carbon filters can only work effectively when they are clean. After a period of time (depending on how dirty your home’s air is), your filters will become dirty and clogged and won’t be able to trap any more particles or gaseous matter.
It’s important that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for filter replacement. Most manufacturers recommend changing your filters every three to six months. If you’re someone that requires reminders, purchase an air purifier that comes with a “change filter” indicator light that will flash when it’s time to replace your filters.
Go for the Right Design
No, I don’t mean choose a blue purifier with curved lines, although, that sounds like an attractive purifier (that can also tackle pet odors – hint hint). I mean there are certain air purifiers designed specifically to deal with pet odors. Be sure to get the right tool for the job.
And speaking of design, air purifiers are designed to handle a specific square footage, much like an air conditioner. If you plan on putting the air purifier down in the basement where the litter boxes are, measure the size of the room and get an air purifier powerful enough to handle the size. Air purifiers are incredibly good at cleaning your home’s air, but only if you get a unit that can handle the job, so shop wisely.
You may want to get a couple of air purifiers for your home, depending on how many cats you have and how many rooms contain litter boxes. For instance, many multi-cat homes with have multiple litter boxes on multiple floors of the house. Some homes may need three units, one on each floor in the room that contains a litter box.
Next, you’ve also got to keep the mental and emotional health of your cat in mind. To put it bluntly, a cat will FREAK out if you put a noisy air purifier right next to their litter box. There are incredibly quiet air purifiers that get the job done without the noise.
And finally, when discussing placement, we need to mention that your air purifier cannot be placed right up against a piece of furniture or the wall. In order to operate properly, Air flow cannot be blocked, so make sure the unit is placed out into the room a bit, away form anything that will block the air flow.
Keep Those Windows Closed
You may think you’re helping the situation by opening a window to let “fresh air” in. but an air purifier works best when it can recirculate and reclean (over and over) the same air.
Also, air purifiers are really meant to be run 24-hours a day to be efficient. It’s not as if your cat and his or her litter box only smells between the hours of noon and 4PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But rest assured, many air purifiers are incredibly cost-effective and can be run 24-hours a day for around $0.40. That’s a pretty good price to pay for healthier, odorless air.
If you follow these guidelines you can keep Little Miss Fufu, your sanity AND your dinner guests from leaving early at the same time.