How to Do Your Own Activated Charcoal Cat Litter Box

(Image: cats 2 image by Dusan Radivojevic from

Pets of every variety create not only pleasure but problems in most households. Cats are among the most popular pets, and many cat owners believe their cat should remain indoors most of the time to avoid injury and illness. Thus cat owners face the task of providing a way for their pet to eliminate indoors even though the odors produced are unpleasant. Some experts recommend the use of activated carbon to absorb odors effectively.

Things You'll Need

  • Litter box
  • Cat litter
  • Activated carbon in bulk
  • Activated carbon filters
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cotton twine
  • Mat or rug

Choose a litter box according to the cat's preference. Some cats are satisfied with an open plastic container, like a dishpan, at least 20 inches long and 6 inches tall. Other cats like the idea of a container with some sort of cover and will approve of a shielded litter box. Experiment with your cat using different styles of boxes, if possible. As a rule, experts agree that cats are more likely to use a large litter box than a small one.

Select or make your own cat litter. Most commercial litters consist of granulated clay, which can be purchased at a pet store, or of wood chips, mainly cedar, or of a mixture of clay and other materials. A few cat experts like ground corncobs for their absorbency but prefer shelled corn kernels because they create little dust. Some commercial litters form clumps when wet thus facilitating easy removal of the waste.

Add homemade activated carbon filters or commercially available activated charcoal filters to the litter box. Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon or active carbon, are terms referring to charcoal processed to be more porous, increasing its surface area and absorbent qualities dramatically. Pets reporter Yvette Van Veen, at, recommends making your own filters, using activated charcoal available from pet supply and hardware stores. Wrap four or more tablespoonsful of the carbon in several layers of fabric, preferably in the type of cheesecloth sold as a cooking accessory. Tie the bundle tightly with twine and bury it in the litter. Or buy a charcoal filter to use similarly, following the manufacturer's directions. Use one charcoal filter at a time, adding another if odor persists.

Place the litter box in a location the cat can reach easily. Often pet owners must experiment with locations around the house before finding a spot where the cat seems most comfortable. Protect the floor surface around the litter box by placing it on a rug or mat that extends several inches all the way around the box.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiments demonstrate that more cats prefer litter supplemented with carbon than with baking soda, the other deodorant product suggested for litter boxes.
  • Adding bulk carbon directly to the litter will not harm the cat but does pose a risk of the pet tracking the black carbon out of the box.
  • If the litter box is always surrounded with cat litter, the box is not tall enough.
  • Adding charcoal briquettes to the litter box is unlikely to be effective.

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