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.

Ancient cat breeds

Abyssinian

By Sandie Lee

Have you ever wondered where all the different cat breeds come from?

There’s the Russian Blue and the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Himalayan and the Siamese, and the Domestic Short and Long-haired felines.  Although there are over 70 specific cat breeds recognized today, they can all trace their lineage back to the Felis Sylvestris or the Middle Eastern Wildcat.

It was in the Middle East, some 12,000 years ago, that people began to recognize cats’ usefulness in keeping vermin under control. The ancient Egyptians even elevated the feline to the status of a god, a trait which seems to have followed this independent creature throughout time.

Let’s claw back the curtain of history to uncover some fascinating facts about our feline friends.

Nature or Nurture?

Did you know 95% of cats in the U.S. are randomly bred and are called American Domestics, while the other 5% are pedigreed? That’s a whole lot of nature being responsible for the majority of our cat population. Nature has also done some amazing things to help the feline species cope with and adapt to its surroundings.

For example, Maine Coon cats often have extra toes, a completely harmless condition known as polydactylism. These extra digits not only look adorable, but gives the cat greater abilities while hunting and over snowy terrain.

As cats became more and more popular, man took it upon himself to encourage traits in our felines that were naturally occurring in some litters.

A completely hairless kitten sparked the idea of a cat that would be more suitable for those who suffer with allergies and later became known as the Sphynx, while half a litter of kittens born with super-short legs inspired the Munchkin breed.

These are relatively new breeds to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), but there are ancient breeds that have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years.

Ancient Cat Breeds

There’s a catalogue of cats that have been known throughout history. See if your favorite breed can count itself as “ancient.”

Turkish angoraTurkish Angora –  This fluffy breed can trace its documented lineage back as far as the 1600s in France. However, it is quite possible that the Turkish Angora originated in the mountainous regions of Turkey, where it developed an unusually soft, medium-long coat for protection against the harsh winters.

In addition, long-haired cats were also present as far back as the 1400s in Europe. In the early 1900s, this breed was used indiscriminately in breeding programs with the Persian cat to improve on the quality of the coats in the offspring. This almost lead to the demise of the entire Turkish Angora breed; fortunately, a breeding program was set up in Turkey to preserve the cat.

Today, all purebred Turkish Angoras must be able to trace their lineage back to Turkey to be registered with the CFA.

persian cats

Persian –  Another long haired feline, the Persian, also makes the list for being one of the oldest cat breeds known today.

Way back in the 1600s this cat was smuggled out of Persia (modern day Iran) by European explorers, along with spices and jewels. It then went on to grace the castles and courtyards of royalty in France, Italy, and England.

In fact, this breed was favored by Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale. Experts believe the Persian can trace its lineage all the way back to the wild cat, Felis Libyca, which are still found in Africa and Asia today.

siamese catSiamese –  The elegance of the Siamese breed can trace its roots back to Thailand (formerly Siam); in fact, a detailed description of a cat resembling the Siamese was found in a book that was believed to be written between 1350 and 1767.

As this breed gained popularity, President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy were the recipients of a Siamese cat shipped to them in 1878 by David B. Sickels, a U.S. diplomat stationed at the consulate in Thailand. The letter detailing the feline gift is still on file at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.

korat

Korat –  Thought to bring good luck to those that own one, the Korat can also trace its ancestry back to Thailand and was documented in The Cat-Book of Poems or Smud Khoi in the 1300s.

Its piercing green eyes and silver coat were highly valued and were the qualities that were believed to bring prosperity to its owners, both hundreds of years ago and even today to newlyweds and farmers in Thailand.

Siberian forestSiberian Forest – This centuries-old breed dates back hundreds of years to Russia. It was fondly mentioned in children’s fairy tales and books, as well as officially named in 1889 in a book by Harrison Wier called Our Cats and All About Them.

Not only was the Siberian Forest cat talked and written about, it was also highly prized for its natural hunting abilities, which helped keep the rodent population under control on the local farms.

After the Cold War, the Siberian cat was imported into other countries and finally made its way into the United States in the early 90s.

norwegian forestNorwegian Forest – Another long-haired breed makes the ancient list as the Norwegian Forest cat can trace its furry roots back centuries to the area of Norway. It was featured in their folk tales and mythology and was referred to as the “Skogkatt” (which means “forest cat”.)

It is thought this cat was most likely used on the ships of Vikings to keep the rodent population under control, the same role they played on the Norwegian farms.

Abyssinian (see photo at the top of the article) –  Although researchers are not entirely sure just how far back the Abyssinian breed dates, there are depictions of cats resembling the Abyssinian in Near Eastern art and sculptures. However, recent genetic testing now suggests the breed most likely originated in Southeast Asia on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

According to the CFA, the first mention of the Abyssinian was in the Harper’s Weekly (January 27, 1872 issue) where the 3rd prize in the December 1871 Crystal Palace show was taken by the Abyssinian Cat “captured in the late Abyssinian War.”

egyptian-mau-sink

Egyptian Mau – Perhaps the most “ancient” of them all, the Egyptian Mau was found mummified in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs and Kings.

In addition, papyri and frescoes dating back as far as 1550 B.C. depict spotted cats. Many documents found from the dawn of the New Kingdom make it well know that this breed was an integral part of daily life.

This cat is thought to have been used to aid hunters. It still retains the skill of being the fastest cat alive, reaching speeds of up to 30 mph!

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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.

 

What’s up with those kitty whiskers?

cat whiskers

By Sandie Lee

Why DO cats have whiskers, anyway? Sure, they’re great for tickling your nose early in the morning when you’d rather be sleeping, but those long thick strands of hair (also known as vibrissae or tactile hairs), found on your cat’s face and on the back of its front legs (above the paws) serve some other [also very important] purposes.

They’re great navigational aids. Have you ever tried to make your way around a dark room? It’s tricky, isn’t it? Well, instead of bumping into things like us clumsy humans, a cat uses its whiskers to navigate dark areas.The whiskers allow cats to detect changes in air currents, which in turn keeps the animal from smacking into that bookshelf or footstool. Cats also use their whiskers to hunt, because they can detect the air currents around its prey.

If the whiskers fit… If you’ve noticed your cat poking her head through an opening and pausing, she’s doing more than just checking out what’s inside – she’sactually gauging if she’ll fit without getting stuck.

The whiskers on a cat’s muzzle are approximately the same length as the cat’s width (this may not apply to overweight cats). So if the whiskers fit into that opening without bending, then the cat knows it’s safe to proceed. 

Whisker fun fact: a cat’s muzzle has four rows of whiskers on each side. The two top rows can move independently of the bottom two rows.

They protect the eyes. When a cat is out in the tall grass or an area with lots of brush, the whiskers above the eyes serve as an automatic blinking trigger. If a foreign object touches these top whiskers, it immediately makes the cat blink. This serves to protect the eyes from debris or punctures.

Wait – cats have whiskers on their legs? We’ve already learned the cat’s muzzle-whiskers can detect the shift in air currents when hunting prey, but did you know the carpal whiskers (located just above the cat’s wrists on the front legs) also help it when hunting?

When a cat has its prey captured between its front paws, the carpal whiskers help her determine movement and which direction the animal is facing. Once the cat has this information, it can make an accurate killing bite.

They’re mood detectors. Don’t wait for kitty to give you a good swat to find out she’s in a bad mood – just take a look at her whiskers!

Loosely hanging whiskers mean “I’m relaxed.” A battle-ready or frightened cat’s whiskers will lie flat against the face to prevent damage, while forward-facing whiskers mean that the cat is in hunting mode.

However, don’t rely just on the whiskers before going in for a cuddle; be sure to read your cat’s other body language signs to help determine its mood or availability for some quality snuggle time.

No touching! Never cut or tamper with a cat’s whiskers. This will not only cause disorientation, but also fear, stress, and even pain due to their extreme sensitivity.

Now that you know how important whiskers are, take notice of all the ways your cat uses them. Whether he’s hunting, making his way through a dark room, or just telling you how much he loves your company, those whiskers are as much a part of your cat’s makeup as his endearing purr.

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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 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.

When your cat is a hat

cat hat

By Mary Beth Miller

Snuggled up in bed you begin to drift off to sleep, just to be woken up by a face full of cat fur. You love your cat, so you kindly remove Fluffy from your face and go back to sleep.

Ten minutes later, you feel a tail tickling your nose and Fluffy not on your face, but on top of your head. What a crazy kitty! Why does my cat want to sleep on my head at night?

Feline experts are not 100% sure as to why cats find the head of their owners an inviting place to catch some shuteye, but they do have a few theories.

Your head is warm

It’s no secret that cats love to seek out warm places in the house. That is why we often find our easy going felines basking in the sun or curled up in a fresh batch of laundry. As humans, we lose the majority of our body heat through our heads, so when the sun goes down, our cats see our noggins as a warm and cozy place to be in the chill of the night.

You provide a feeling of safety

Every living, breathing thing in this world needs to feel safe – including your cat. Your cat looks to you for protection and he knows that nothing could possibly hurt him in the presence of his human. Think of your head as an early warning system – if you are startled by a noise in the night, your head will jolt up, waking your cat so he can get out of the way of possible danger.

The calming scents & sounds that are you

The scent of your hair, the distant thrum of your beating heart, and the soothing sound of your breath all bring your cat to a zen state. Fluffy associates these smells or sounds with companionship, care, and peace. Snuggled under the covers, your head may just be your cat’s happy place.

Your cat loves you

Left alone while you are at work, your cat misses you and wants to spend time with you at the end of the day. There are only a few hours between the time you get home and bedtime, so your cat takes advantage of every second he can get. Those purrs, head rubs, and kitty kisses are his way of saying he adores you. Jumping into bed and snuggling up next to you is just another way of showing his affection, so wear your cat hat with pride!

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mary-beth-miller-pawedinMary Beth Miller is a registered veterinary technician from southeast Iowa. She works in a large/small animal veterinary clinic and also volunteers at the local Humane Society, Emergency Animal Care Center, as well as the Iowa Parrot Rescue. Her passion lies in helping save the lives of animals. Mary Beth has three dogs, a Siberian husky named Rocky and two rescue dogs named Sambita and Nina.