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Get the Smell of Cat Pee Out of Your House
CatsBehavior

Get the Smell of Cat Pee Out of Your House

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 24, 2022

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You love your feline companion, but you could really do without its pee-pee problem. You've just about had it with finding urine in your suitcase before you travel, on your bed, and where you rest your feet while binge-watching your favorite TV shows. It's particularly taxing when you clean the mess, but the smell sticks around. Cat pee is more of a challenge to get rid of than dog pee because it comprises pheromones and hormones plus urea, uric acid, and other ingredients. Here's what you can do to eliminate that dreaded cat pee smell once and for all.

1

Cat pee chemistry

Cute ginger cat looking curious out of a closed litter box, seen directly from above. Lightspruch / Getty Images

Absorbent materials can smell funky and skunk-adjacent because cat urine is a potent cocktail. Bacteria thrive in cat pee that's not swiftly attended to, resulting in an ammonia-like whiff. Old pee emits mercaptans with the same sulfurous molecules you can expect to find in decomposing meat. Pretty gross if you think about it.

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2

Treat the cause, not the symptom

Rear View of Kitten Watching Owner Cleaning Floor CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

Consider why your fur baby isn't peeing in its litter box. There's a host of potential reasons, including stress, old age, medical issues, an uncomfortable or dirty litter box, a toilet area that's not private enough, or not being neutered. You'll need to address these issues to stop all the accidents from occurring in the first place.

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3

Locate the offending spots

Blue ultra violet light illuminates many stains from pet urine on a carpet in home BackyardProduction / Getty Images

Fresh pee is wet and not that difficult to find. Old pee, on the other hand, will require a bit of investigative work. After sundown, turn all the lights off and switch on a blacklight procured from a local big box store. When you shine the ultraviolet light in the areas your cat usually hangs out, dried-up pee will glow and alert you to its presence. You won't just see it on the floor but on vertical surfaces that cats spray to mark their territory.

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4

How to handle fresh pee

Grey tabby cat walking on hardwood floor below a carpeted staircase michellegibson / Getty Images

Work quickly to blot fresh pee with a paper towel but don't rub, or you'll spread the urine and pill rug fibers. Don't use a carpet shampoo—you need a special enzyme cleaner, and using a regular detergent first will render the enzyme cleaner less effective and possibly fix stains in place. Follow the instructions on the packaging. You might be unable to use an enzyme cleaner on untreated wood, leather, silk, etc. Doing a patch test before you use products is always a good idea, whether you're trying skincare or a cleaner on a nylon carpet. Don't be shy during the application. Pee isn't.

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5

Products to try

Close-up image of woman removing stain from the carpet DragonImages / Getty Images

Grocery store shelves can sometimes be overwhelming with multiple options, so here are two products for you to try when you're unsure which route to take. Biokleen Bac-Out can remove pee odors from your upholstered furniture, carpets, and porous surfaces. Nature's Miracle is another popular enzymatic product that eliminates smells. Enzymes like protease allow the urine to break down and evaporate, but you might still be left with a mark, which you can tackle with clean water or a dedicated stain-remover.

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6

Make your own cat pee cleaner

person cleaning cat vomit on the carpet krblokhin / Getty Images

If store-bought solutions don't work for you, try a homemade treatment. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a jug and apply this solution to the soiled portion of your carpet liberally. Leave it to soak in for 15 minutes before blotting it with a paper towel until dry. Now spread some baking soda on the area and, in a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of mild dishwashing soap. When you add this new mixture to the baking soda, there'll be a visible reaction. Work your treatment into the carpet and let it dry for at least four hours before vacuuming the baking soda away. Repeat the process if necessary.

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7

Dealing with cat urine on porous hard surfaces

White cat sitting on mat Deirdre Motto / Getty Images

Hard surfaces like sealed tiles are usually straightforward and require a basic dishwashing liquid solution. But when you've got unsealed grout and hardwood floors, you're looking at more significant damage, especially if you don't act fast. Use a wood cleaner or grout cleaner promptly and do a thorough job, or the urine will eat away at your floor's finish.

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8

How to get cat pee out of your clothes

Woman Cleaning Stained Shirt in Bathroom Sink. CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

Cats may pee in laundry baskets or have accidents while you're holding them. In these situations, take the soiled item of clothing to the sink ASAP. Rinse the pee out with cold water. Hot water can set the odor, which is what you don't want. Dab the rinsed spot with a paper towel before putting the item in a washing machine with enzyme detergent. You may have to put it in the laundry once more for good measure.

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9

Get help

Worker removing dirt from carpet indoors, closeup. Cleaning service Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

If all your efforts are in vain, or you simply don't have the time to deal with the stains you acquired while your kitten was potty training or your late cat was ill, call in the experts. They can wash and dry carpets without compromising the material and ensure you won't have any icky lingering smells wafting up from your favorite sofa.

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10

Extreme cases

Vacuum cleaner. Carpet hoover. Cleaning. Cat hair. Irina Vodneva / Getty Images

When the boss of the house, AKA your kitty, keeps making its way back to the same spot and you're at your wits' end, you may have to change tactics. You can hire a professional to pull up the offending section of the carpet. The pad will need replacing, and the subfloor will require sealing.

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