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Keep It Clean: How to Get Rid of Cat Urine Stink and Stains

What to do -- and not to do -- if you make the unpleasant discovery of cat pee in your home.

JaneA Kelley  |  Oct 21st 2016


Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our September/October 2016 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

Picture this: You arrive home at the end of a long workday. As you open the door, ready to sit down with a glass of wine and mindlessly watch some TV, it hits you: the unmistakable reek of cat pee. Suddenly, you know your day just got a lot longer.

Here are some tips if you’re in this stinky situation.

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Photo by Shutterstock

Get a black light

Black lights, available at pet stores and online, help you find urine stains, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of removing the stink. Check floors and walls or other vertical surfaces; even female cats and neutered males can spray under certain circumstances.

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Try enzyme cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners actually have ingredients that break down the urine and destroy the odor-causing elements. They vary in cost and effectiveness, though, so use them as directed, and get recommendations from people you trust. Don’t use enzymatic cleaners with other types of cleaning agents; they can reduce the effectiveness.

Try vinegar and water

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Mix 1⁄2 cup of white (not wine or cider) vinegar with 11⁄2 cups of warm water. Pour this mixture over the stain, and let it soak for three to five minutes before blotting it up. Test this on a small, less visible area to determine whether it will discolor your carpet or furniture. After the stain is dry, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda over the area to remove the last of the odor, and vacuum it up after 24 hours.

Use carbon-dioxide-based cleaner

I learned about carbon dioxide-based urine cleaners from Jackson Galaxy, who promotes them for good reason: They work, and they’re easy to use. Once you’ve found the urine spots, simply mix the pellet with warm water according to the package directions, and spray it on the stain. Blot after about 15 minutes, and let the stain dry naturally.

Oh no you don’t

Avoide ammonia: You’ve probably noticed that ammonia and urine smell alike. This is because urine actually contains ammonia. If you use ammonia to clean urine, you could actually be telling your cat that another cat has peed in that spot, leading him to urine-mark the spot again.

Don’t rely on regular carpet cleaners: Standard carpet cleaners (not made especially for pet urine) don’t work against the odor-causing proteins in cat urine. Steam cleaning can actually cause the stain and odor to spread and set into the carpet if you don’t use an appropriate stain and odor remover first.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal rescue volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline authors, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.