Cat pee ranks up there with things like dirty diapers, vomit, and raw sewage as some of the worst-smelling stuff in the world. It seems to leave traces behind no matter how much you try to eradicate it from your life. So, how do you get rid of the cat pee smell so it’s gone once and for all?
Why Does Cat Pee Stink So Bad?
If you have a dog, you know their pee stinks and leaves yucky stains. But let’s be honest. It doesn’t compare to the odor your cat leaves behind after they spray or tinkle. (And if you have an unneutered male cat, wow... the smell is intense.) Of course, if your cat urinates in their litter box, and you clean it regularly, the smell of cat pee won’t be a big issue for you.
However, the real smelly problem arises when your feline’s urine sits for a while. And if they pee outside their litter box, and it soaks into things like carpets and other surfaces, you end up with a significant odor problem. But why does cat pee stink so bad?
The primary reason your cat’s pee smells so awful is the longer it sits, the more chance urea in the urine has to break down. As urea decomposes, you end up with the pungent ammonia smell that’s so characteristic of cat pee. In homes where cat urine is excessive and left unattended for long periods, ammonia exposure becomes a real problem.
Furthermore, if the urine continues to remain in the litter box, or worse, on your carpet or anywhere else, decomposition continues, leading to the release of mercaptans. Mercaptans add a skunk-like odor to the mix that makes things especially unpleasant.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside Their Litter Box?
If your cat pees in their litter box, urine smells are easy to tackle. As long as you regularly scoop and clean, you should enjoy a home that is free from the smell of cat pee. However, what if your cat’s not using the litter box?
When your frisky feline refuses to go to the bathroom where they’re supposed to, several reasons could be to blame. Sometimes, it could be as simple as you’re a bit overdue on cleaning out the litter box. Cats want a clean place to do their business.
Other potential reasons your cat doesn’t use the litter box are stress, texture issues, or health problems. Feline diabetes, cognitive lapses, arthritis, and other conditions could contribute to a change in your cat’s bathroom habits.
How to Encourage Your Cat to Go in the Litter Box
First, before you spend too much time trying to get rid of the cat pee smell in your house, it’s essential to get your cat using their litter box. Otherwise, you’ll keep dealing with the same problem over and over again, and that’s not fun.
Pinpoint why your cat isn’t using their litter box so you can figure out the best way to help them. A trip to the vet might be necessary to rule out any underlying health issues. It’s also important to keep the litter box clean. Tools like the Neater Scooper make it a breeze to clean your cat’s litter box.
If your cat is picky about their bathroom preferences, you might want to try different cat litters to find one that gets your cat’s approval. As your pet ages, things like arthritis could make it difficult to climb in and out of certain litter boxes, so you may need to try out a few options. If stress is the reason for your cat’s rogue peeing, ease anxious feelings with calming diffusers or similar products.
Tips to Eliminate and Clean Cat Pee Odors
Once your cat is back on track with their bathroom habits, it’s time to address the cat pee odor. Use these tips to tackle the nagging cat pee smell, and be prepared to go the distance if and when the smell simply won’t quit.
1. Clean Up Cat Pee Quickly
The best way to avoid a lingering cat pee smell is to clean up your cat’s urine as soon as possible. Don’t let pee sit in the litter box, and if you do notice your cat went outside of their box, clean it up immediately. Remember, the longer cat pee sits, the worse it smells, and the harder it becomes to eliminate.
Plus, if the urine dries, you likely won’t be able to see it anymore, even though you can still smell it. Your cat also smells it, which means they’re going to return to that spot and pee on it again and again.
Though it isn't intended to be used for cat urine, a Neater Mat Cat Litter Trapping Mat can act as a last line of defense for your floors if an accident does happen right outside the litter box. If your cat gets urine on the mat, make sure to rinse it off immediately with soap and water so you don't encourage your cat to pee there again.
2. Use the Right Cleaners for Pet Odors
As with any task, using the proper tools for the job makes the outcome much more successful. When it comes to pet urine, enzyme cleaners are the way to go. These products are pet-friendly and contain enzymes that target and break down the bad bacteria and acid in the urine. Instead of simply masking unpleasant odors, they go straight to the source to eliminate the cause of the smell.
Another option is to use a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. The vinegar helps neutralize the odor-causing elements in dried cat urine. Of course, vinegar possesses a strong odor too, but it’s a lot better than the smell of cat pee. The vinegar smell typically goes away within a few days.
No matter what cleaning product you decide to use, it’s wise to spot-test an area first to make sure the solution doesn’t damage your floor, furniture, etc. Also, avoid using any cleaning products that contain ammonia. Since the ammonia smell is very similar to your cat's urine, your kitty may catch a whiff and consider it an invitation to go potty in that spot.
3. Know the Steps to Eradicate Cat Pee
- Before you add any cleaner to the cat pee, soak up as much of it as possible with a paper towel or clean cloth. It may help to soak the area in water first, and then blot up as much as possible. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum to remove excess water.
- Soak the entire stain with an enzyme cleaner, including the surrounding area. Simply spraying the stain likely won’t apply enough product. Therefore, remove the cap and slowly pour the cleaner onto the stain to saturate it.
- Allow the cleaner to sit and penetrate the stain for 15 minutes, then blot up as much of it as you can with paper towels.
- Let the area air dry as long as necessary and put precautions in place to keep your cat away from the spot. Cover the area with an upside-down basket or bin, a sheet of aluminum foil, a plastic tarp, etc.
- Repeat the process as necessary until the smell is gone.
4. Clean Your Cat’s Bathroom
Regularly scooping your cat’s litter box is a must. But don’t forget everything else that comprises your cat’s bathroom.
Clean the scoop, and the litter mat, and empty and clean the actual litter box regularly (once a week is ideal). Also, replace your pet’s belongings if they start to wear down, show damage, or seem to hold onto stubborn smells.
5. Be Prepared to Replace Things
Sometimes, even with your best efforts, you can’t eliminate all of the cat pee smell. In these cases, you’ll need to toss out the damaged items or materials and replace them.
For example, if the urine soaks through to the subfloor, you’ll need to remove the carpet, pad, etc., and replace them. Apply an oil-based stain and odor-blocking primer to the subfloor before laying down new flooring or carpet.
Get Rid of Cat Pee Once and For All
Nobody wants to deal with cleaning cat pee, but even worse is ignoring it and letting it get stronger and harder to eliminate. Using these steps will keep your home smelling fresh and clean. For more helpful tips, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog, and learn how you can continue being an amazing pet parent.