How to get rid of that cat pee smell

white-cat-on-toilet

By Germaine Shock

 If I could, I’d have about ten cats and I’d wear sweaters with their faces on them (yeah, i’d be that person). I don’t mind the presents of dead animals, the attacking of curtains at 2am, or even choking on cat hair 24/7.  But there’s that one caveat of cat companionship that even those of us with the best trained felines have to deal with at least once: the dreaded smell of cat pee.  

There’s no mistaking it. It’s like the love child of a ball park urinal and skunk spray taking a sauna break. Soooo… what do you do about it? 

The Art of War – on cat pee

Ok, so let’s start by better understanding what makes that cat pee smell so pungent. There are several different waste chemicals involved, most notably urea, which is a compound found in both human and animal urine. Basically, when environmental bacteria and bacteria within the urine breaks down the urea, ammonia is released. If you’ve ever cleaned with the stuff, you’ll be familiar with its eye-watering side effect.

As time passes and the bacteria continues to multiply, mercaptans are produced. Mercaptans are what causes the smell when a skunk sprays. There’s also felinine, which is a protein that is part of the pheromone system and emits fragrant sulphurs (rotten egg smell) that get stronger as time goes by. This is part of the reason why that cat pee stench doesn’t seem to fade. The main use of all of this is communication. It helps males to mark their territory; cats can also use these aromas to tell if their fellow feline is sick or in heat.

Cause and effect

If your kitty is litter box trained, chances are the smell is pretty well contained due to deodorizing cat litters. But if your cat is a little on the stubborn side and tends to go outside of her box often, it’s important to figure out why. It could be something as simple as a dirty box to something more serious like a urinary tract disease. Your best bet is to go down the list. Make sure the box is kept clean and in a private area. Have you introduced a new animal or family member that might be making your cat jealous? Is your kitty exhibiting any signs of illness such as blood in the urine or frequent urination?  If in doubt, don’t hesitate to see your vet.

Once the potential cause is determined and corrected, it’s time to get down to business. First, you’ll need to locate the source of the smell.  While this may sound like common sense, you’d be surprised at just how tricky the area can be to locate. The cat pee scent is so strong that it fills the room, making it hard to pinpoint the exact location.This is especially true if the spot has already dried and there isn’t an obvious marking on the floor. 

Cleaning tips

Once you have located the source of the stink, the process for getting the smell out will depend on what the soiled area is made of:  

Machine washable fabric – If the item in question is machine washable, consider yourself lucky! Wash in the machine as usual but add a box of baking soda (yes, an entire box) in addition to your detergent. Make sure to wash in cold water and air dry if possible, as heat can cause the smell to set.

Carpet or upholstery (fresh stain) – Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to find the area before it has dried (hopefully not by stepping in it). First, soak up as much of the liquid as possible with towels, newspaper, microfiber cloths, etc.  You’ll want to dab the area instead of rubbing so you don’t spread the stain. A hands-off method of doing this is to put down the soaker-upper of your choice and then place something sturdy – like a stack of newspapers – on top of it and then stand on this. Do this several times, replacing the wet soaker-upper with a clean one, until the area is as dry as you can get it.

After this, you’ll need to clean the spot thoroughly.  You can either use a wet vac with water, or you could try a homemade recipe. Saturate the area with baking soda and then pour a mixture of ¾ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon dish detergent over this.  You’ll want to work this mixture into the material and let it sit until dry. You might want to do a patch test to ensure that the peroxide won’t discolor your carpet or upholstery. You can then vacuum up the excess.

If DIY isn’t your thing, you can also buy commercial cleaners. Just make sure not to use ammonia… the smell is too similar to urine and might make your kitty want to mark the spot again.

Carpet or upholstery (dry stain) – Dry stains are usually already set, and therefore a lot more stubborn when it comes to removing them. You can use a wet vac and follow up with a high quality pet odor neutralizer.  

As a note, neutralizers don’t clean; instead, they’re simply used to neutralize the alkaline smell of the pee, which can help keep repeat offenses from happening. A simple, acidic neutralizer contains one part white vinegar with six parts water; spray this solution on the fabric and let it sit for ten minutes before completely removing it with an absorbent towel.

Whether you use a neutralizer or not, you’ll probably need to hit the spot twice to get the stain out completely.  Unfortunately, if the urine has also soaked through to the padding underneath the carpet, you may end up having to replace that area of carpet and padding.

Tile, wood, or laminate floors – If the mess is on wood, laminate, or tile, cleanup is fairly easy, since the liquid doesn’t tend to soak in. Clean up the excess liquid, then follow up by wiping down with ½ cup white vinegar mixed into 1 quart of warm water (or use a commercial product).  In the case of hardwood floors, sometimes the chemicals in cat urine can react with the varnish and leave a permanent discoloration; you might need to sand and re-varnish the area.

Think outside the litter box

Teach your cat how to use the toilet. (It can be done.)

What are your favorite cat pee clean up tricks?

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Germaine Shock is a pet enthusiast who has an appreciation for everything from Pythons to Parrots. She also has a passion for writing and majored in English from the University of Arkansas with a focus on classic literature.

5 reasons why you should adopt an older cat

 

By Emily Bruer

If you’re thinking about adding a new feline friend to the family, you’ve probably been tempted by the idea of getting a kitten. While kittens can be fun, they are also a Lot. Of. Work. Older cats are generally much easier to handle, and if you are considering adopting during the #CleartheShelters event this weekend, here are some great reasons to  welcome a more mature kitty into your home:

Personality

What most people don’t realize is that kittens are like babies (because they are!), and their true personalities won’t be fully developed until they reach maturity at about 2-3 years of age. When you adopt an older cat you pretty much know what you’re getting. If the cat is extremely friendly it will likely be that way the rest of its life (barring trauma or illness). 

However, it is good to keep in mind that many animals will not act themselves in the shelter environment. If a cat has lived with one family its entire life and suddenly finds itself in a loud, busy shelter, chances are they will be overwhelmed and either withdraw or lash out. Be sure to ask shelter staff about which cats they think would be the best fit for your home, and take their advice into consideration. Most staff members know the animals in their care very well and will be able to point you in the right direction.

Save a life

No matter what age the cat you adopt is, you will be saving a life. But if you adopt an older cat you know you are making a huge difference in that animal’s life. Kittens tend to get adopted quickly, while older cats are left waiting (sometimes for a year or more) for the right home to come along.

After they have been waiting a while cats tend to get depressed, and it’s a downhill battle from there for staff to keep them alive. A depressed cat will often stop eating and refuse any specialty foods offered to it. The sooner an adult cat can get out of the shelter and into a home the better.

Calm

Kittens are [adorable] maniacs. They are into everything, climbing everything they can, pouncing on your feet, and just enjoying exploring everything in the world. On the other hand, adult cats are much more laid back, and they’re more likely to sleep through the night instead of bouncing off your head like it’s a trampoline at 2am. They are more interested in napping at your feet than chasing the lights from passing cars across the room.

Better in pairs

If you are open to adopting two cats, ask shelter staff if they have any bonded pairs. Pairs of cats frequently enter the shelter together when their owners pass away or move. Pairs can be hard to adopt out together, but many of these cats will stop eating without their best friend around to keep them company. Two bonded cats are about the same amount of work as one, so you might as well go for it!

Grateful 

Adult cats tend to bond more closely with their new people than kittens. I believe this is because they are grateful to have a stable home and a loving environment. They felt the fear and uncertainty of the shelter, and when you came their life immediately improved. They will always associate you with their rescue, and will love you dearly for it.

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing kitty without all the work of kittenhood. Be sure to check around the shelters in your area to find a cat that speaks to you, and don’t be afraid to visit several times before making your final decision.

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Introducing Kitty to Baby

Chinese Baby with Tiger Patterned Cat

By Sandie Lee

Cats are creatures of habit, so it can be very upsetting when a new schedule-changer (aka, Baby) turns its world upside down. But there are ways to soften the emotional turmoil and prepare your cat for the new family member.

Keep a consistent kitty schedule

Babies are hectic, demanding little humans, and their needs can disrupt the entire household. Before your baby arrives, make sure your cat already has a regular, predictable routine for feeding, litter box cleaning, medication (as needed), and play time.

If you feel you may have trouble keeping Kitty’s schedule, enlist the help of those around you and invest in an automatic food dispenser. Having consistent times for daily activities will help your cat be more resilient when everything else gets crazy.

Slowly introduce new sights, sounds, and smells

Humans may take for granted all the new sights, sounds, and smells a new baby brings with it. But for cats (who – let’s face it – like to have things their way), all the strange, loud stimuli can be quite overwhelming.

To help conquer this, let your cat sniff the new baby items as you bring them into your home. Let Kitty rub her face on the items (marking) so they will be just a part of the home to her. After the baby is born, bring home an item from the hospital that the baby has been in contact with and let your cat sniff and mark it. This allows your cat to become used to the smell of the new baby before he comes into the house.

Did you know there’s a CD of baby sounds? (You can also download baby sounds for pets on iTunes.) This is excellent to play in the background so your cat can become accustomed to all the odd sounds a baby makes. Play this when your cat is relaxed or you’re cuddling with her so she knows there’s nothing to be afraid of.

No extra attention

As much as we may want to pre-emptively assuage our feelings of guilt, we have to resist the temptation to heap on extra attention to Kitty before the baby arrives.

Remember, cats are routine-based animals, so if you load on the affection to make up for a later deficit, she will come to expect this every day. To help ease Kitty into the “lesser” role, introduce more toys that will have her playing on her own, but still be sure to give her some one-on-one time as per your new schedule.

Allow exploration of the baby’s room

Don’t keep the baby’s room “off limits” before the child arrives; allow your cat to investigate so she becomes familiar with the baby’s items.

Although the idea of a cat “stealing a baby’s breathe” is a myth, it’s not a good idea to let your cat sleep with a new baby as they can curl up too close and restrict an infant’s airway. Some more jealous cats have even been known to urinate inside the crib, so to prevent these unwanted incidents, use a baby crib tent to keep your infant safe while your cat can still see what’s going on.

High-up getaways

Cats love to be high up in the air, so invest in a tall scratch post that Kitty can call her own. This allows your cat to flee from a situation she may perceive as “too much” but still allows her to be a part of the goings-on of the family. Tall cat trees are also perfect perches for when baby becomes a toddler and may become too “grabby” for Kitty’s comfort.

Talk to your doctor about toxoplasmosis

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis is to keep your cat indoors. The Centers for Disease Control state that you’re more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from raw meat or gardening than from your cat, but talk to your doctor about your concerns to be on the safe side. You can also educate yourself by reading more about the disease here and here.

Still  my baby

Cats are sensitive creatures, so even after the baby arrives be sure not to ignore or shoo away your feline pal. Up to this point, she may have been the center of attention and now she will have to get used to not getting the lion’s share of affection. Give your cat the love she craves when the baby is napping or when someone else in the household is tending to the baby.

Working out the time issues between Baby and Kitty will take some effort, but it will be well worth it when your child grows up with a loving pet that may just turn into a best friend.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.