How to get rid of that cat pee smell

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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.

How to train your cat to stay off the counter

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By Emily Bruer

If you’ve ever had a cat you likely have had to deal with them jumping on the counters. While this may not particularly bother you, it can be annoying and (let’s be honest) unsanitary.

There are lots of theories about the best way to go about this, but many can actually damage the relationship between you and your feline friend. Follow the steps in this article and you can train your cat without breaking your bond!

Why is the counter so darned attractive, anyway?

Let’s start with the reasons behind why your cat wants to be on the counter in the first place.

Most cats are social animals and they enjoy the company of their two legged companions. What’s the best way for them to be near you while you’re in the kitchen?

That’s right, to jump on the counter, this puts them up high and closer to your eye level where they can easily get your attention and socialize with you.

The second reason is that cats enjoy being up high, where they can watch out for predators (or the family dog) and to hunt for prey (or treats). While our feline roommates don’t need to be on high alert for predators or prey anymore, they’re hardwired to like high places.

Now, for the training

While our cats may be our fur-kids, they don’t understand our social etiquette and it’s our job to teach them in a way they can understand.

Buy your cat a tree to climb on – Not just any old tree, of course, but a specially made cat tree.

You can pick one up at just about any bricks and mortar or online retailer. You want to make sure the tree you pick has several different perches at a few different heights, especially if you have a multi-cat home. Keep in mind that some cats prefer perches with a horizontal spread, while others like high vertical towers. 

Food training – Once you have the tree all set up, you can begin training your cat. Many cats will simply prefer their tree to the counter, so you may not need to do any training at all. But if you find your kitty is still counter surfing, it’s time to get out the treats.

Cats can be finicky eaters, so you may have to try a few different high value treats before you find one she likes. My cat’s favorites are turkey, tuna, and sardines.

Start giving your kitty treats any time she is on her cat tree while you are in the kitchen. This will cause her to begin associating her cat tree with the yummy treats you are providing!

Any time you catch her on the counter gently pick her up and place her on the floor and then ignore her until she jumps on the tree.

Eventually she will begin to understand that when she jumps on the counter you remove her and ignore her, but when she jumps on the cat tree she gets lots of love and yummy snacks.

If that doesn’t work – If you have been trying this method for a few weeks and still haven’t noticed a marked improvement, the next step would be to add something the kitty doesn’t like to the counter – double sided tape.

Line the edges of the counter and places she likes to sit with double sided tape. The feeling of the tape on her paws will be uncomfortable and she will eventually get the idea that it’s not fun to sit on the counter.

This method of training is a great one for kitties, as the harsher ones (like squirt bottles) can cause fear and negative associations with you. Creating fear in cats is the last thing you want to do, as in extreme cases it can cause aggression and urinating outside of the litter box. (It’s also not a very nice thing to do to your little buddy.)

So stick with these tips, because with the right tools and some yummy treats even the most stubborn cat can learn to leave the counters to the humans and hang out on her tree!

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily 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.

 

How to toilet train your cat

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By Emily Bruer

Do you hate cleaning the litter box every day? Are you sick of finding litter all over your house? Do you have trouble masking that pervasive litter box smell? If so, it’s time for you to toilet train your cat.

While toilet training a cat may sound difficult (especially because they don’t have opposable thumbs), with the right tools your cat will be out of the box and onto the pot in no time!

1. The first step in toilet training your cat is simply moving the litter box into the bathroom. This will get your cat used to going into the bathroom to do his business and it will get him used to the noises and sounds of toilet flushing and the shower.

If your cat’s box is already in the bathroom skip to step 2. If not, wait a week before moving on.

2. Before you move to the toilet phase, you will want to get your cat transitioned to a flushable litter like a grass or corn litter. You will want to slowly transition your cat to the new litter by slowly mixing it in with the current over the course of a week. Every day take out a scoop of the old and add in a scoop of the new until only the new is in the box. 

If you were already using a flushable litter, skip to Step 3.

3. This step is the messiest, but don’t give up yet! For this step you will need either an aluminum roasting pan or a Litter Kwitter.

If you chose an aluminum roasting pan you will need to duct tape it to your toilet and cover any gaps with plastic wrap, then fill the bottom of the pan or the Litter Kwitter with the flushable litter.

It’s likely that your cat will get litter all over the place during this stage as she is jumping up and potentially trying to dig more than she needs to.

Move to step 4 after about a week.

4. Cut a small hole in the center of your roasting pan or remove the first section of the Litter Kwitter. Be sure there is still litter surrounding the new hole as having no litter will confuse your kitty.

Give her about a week to 10 days to get used to this and then move on to step 5.

5. Cut a slightly larger hole in the center of the roasting pan and remove the second section of the Litter Kwitter. You will leave it like this for about a week to 10 days, and then repeat. Continue cutting and removing pieces of the Litter Kwitter until the hole is the same size as the toilet’s opening.

Proceed to Step 6.

6. Now that there isn’t any litter left in the pan (or the Litter Kwitter), you can remove either apparatus and let your kitty use the toilet.

Keep in mind during this process that your kitty may have accidents or struggle a bit. If you find your cat is struggling don’t be afraid to go back a step or two until she is comfortable.

No one wants potty time to be stressful, and if your cat is too stressed out by her new potty arrangements she could develop bad habits. If your cat is older, getting steps that lead up to the toilet can be helpful as arthritic joints may have trouble jumping up. Getting a toilet seat cover that has some texture to it can help as well. Be sure to always leave the lid up after toilet training your cat or she will likely have accidents.

While some cats take quickly to toilet training, others can take a little longer, so be patient. Toilet training in a multi-cat household can be a bit of a challenge, too, so don’t be afraid to wait a little longer between steps. If you cat is extremely skittish, she may never adjust to using the toilet. In that case, try out some of the covered or auto-cleaning litter boxes that are on the market.

With a lot of patience, a little luck, and some dedication your kitty could be the next toilet trained sensation in your neighborhood. Good luck and never give up on your feline friend.

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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.