Getting Rid of the Smell of Cat Pee

More on PawNation: Cats, Lifestyle

Recently, I came across a number of distressing statistics all relating to cat welfare.

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1. Behavioral problems cause more pets to be relinquished to animal shelters than any other issue.
2. The behavioral problem most frequently reported by cat owners is house soiling.
3. The number one medical problem affecting cats in 2010, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance's records, is lower urinary tract disease.

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Put this all together and what does it mean? Owners HATE it when cats urinate outside of the litter box, and the medical problems that often cause them to do so are incredibly common. In too many cases, this disastrous combination leads to the weakening or total dissolution of the human-animal bond. In the worst case scenario, an owner then dumps his or her cat at the nearest shelter, where it stands a very good chance of being euthanized.

Let's start by dealing with the first thing that a cat owner really wants to know when he or she finds cat urine outside of the litter box. How do I get rid of that smell?

Getting rid of urine odors is not just an aesthetic necessity. Cats are attracted to the smell and are much more likely to continue urinating or spraying in a soiled area if it is not thoroughly cleaned.

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First, you have to find the source(s). You can crawl around your house on hands and knees sniffing in all the likely places, but a more dignified method is to use a black light. Cat pee fluoresces under a black light, so wait until dark, turn off your lights, and slowly walk through your house with a handheld device looking for a bright, neon green color. Then use your nose to confirm that it is actually urine.

Once you've found a spot, determine if the pee is fresh or old. If it is still wet to the touch, try to blot up as much as possible using clean, dry towels (the cloth or paper variety work equally well). Once you've done this, or if you are dealing with an old, dried up area of urine, you need to pick the best method of cleaning based on the type of surface that is soiled.

Hard, non-porous materials (e.g., tile, sealed wood flowers, painted drywall, etc.) are pretty straightforward. Use your favorite household cleaning solution, spray it on liberally, wipe, and repeat as often as necessary until the odor is gone.

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Upholstery, carpeting, and other absorbent surfaces are harder to deal with. Anything that can be run through the washer should get this treatment. If that is not an option, buy one of the many cleaners specifically designed to deal with cat pee. Do NOT use a traditional upholstery or carpet cleaner. These don't completely get rid of the smell and can actually make future attempts at doing so less likely to succeed.

Many urine odor removal products are based on either enzymatic or bacterial processes that break down the chemicals responsible for the smell associated with cat pee. You need to thoroughly soak the area in question (including underlying carpet pads if the urine penetrated that deeply) and then let it dry. The whole process can take weeks to complete, so be patient and follow the directions on the bottle to the letter.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

"Getting Rid of the Smell of Cat Pee" originally appeared on

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I never had a problem with any of my cats until I moved from Texas to New Jersey. One of my cats simply refused to use the litter box in our new house and would go on the carpet. We had hundreds of dollars of tests run and the vets found absolutely nothing wrong. We tried everything; multiple boxes, different types of litter, herbal and pheromone attractants. We even tried anti-anxiety medication which, by the way, made her psychotic. Nothing worked! Eventually, I got her to use a house training puppy pad. Seven years and two houses later, she still refuses to use a litter box. It's an annoyance, but we live with it because she's part of the family.

April 23 2014 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Linda Kubik

Our cat Daisy absolutely will not go in the litter box! It's been going on for years, we've tried everything, she has, and is, ruined our house. We're embarrassed to have people over. We are at our wits end, but feel too bad to take her to a shelter, any advice!?

March 10 2014 at 12:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

linda i had the same issue and found that she had blod in the urine. I gave her a small amount of dmannose powder and she went back to using the box. it was an infection. my cat is still somewhat feral and i fear for the vets in dealing with her so i self medicated her and it helped tremoundously. Also getting her off of dry food and i went to platefulls helped too

March 09 2014 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Linda McCoy

Our cat keeps doing this and we just can't take it any more. Really sad situation.

March 09 2014 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Racheal Carbajal

Running things through the washer with cat pee on them will not get rid of the smell. Vinegar works wonders since vinegar’s acidity will neutralize the ammonia in the urine. Even hard surfaces I would clean with vinegar to make sure there is nothing lingering.

March 08 2014 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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