If your cat is peeing outside the litter box, you can have a real problem on your hands. Nothing stinks quite like cat urine. Removing the odor can be a challenge, especially if your cat becomes a repeat offender – and that’s a real possibility. Once a cat starts urinating outside the litter box, he can return again and again to places where he has peed until your home has a terrible odor.
Experts say that cat urine is not too much different from the urine of other animals. However, some cats can have strong hormones that are released when the cat pees. Unneutered male cats, for example, have testosterone in their urine which tells other males to scram and sends an inviting message to female cats. Cats also mark their territory with their urine. They can do this on your carpet or in some corner of your house that you don’t check very often. That’s when cat pee can really start to stink. Bacteria in the urine starts to break down, giving off the stench of old, stale urine. After that it further decomposes into an odor that’s something like skunk spray. If you have an old cat with less efficient kidneys, the odor can be even worse.
Why Is Your Cat Peeing Outside The Litter Box?
Normally, cats will use the litter box when they pee. You clean the litter box regularly and you’re probably not aware of any odor from your cat’s urine. It’s only when your cat decides not to pee in the litter box that you become aware of an odor from his urine. So, why would your cat start peeing outside the litter box?
In order to answer this question, we need a little cat psychology. Again, experts say that your cat is not urinating outside the box to get back at you or punish you for something. They say that cats don’t think that way. But you can pick up clues from his behavior.
The first thing you need to do is to rule out any health problems. Urinary problems in cats can be an indication of urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and feline lower urinary tract disease. Your cat could avoid using the litter box in these cases because he associates trying to urinate with pain. A vet can find out if your cat has one of these health issues.
Older cats may avoid the litter box if they have arthritis. If the shape of the box makes it hard for them to get in and out, for example, they may start to avoid it. You can try getting them a box with lower sides so it’s easy for them to get in and out of the box.
Cats can also have behavioral issues that cause them to avoid the litter box. Sometimes it helps to add extra litter boxes in the house or scooping the box more often or moving the litter box to a different room. Changing the type of litter you use helps in some cases.
While most cats do squat to urinate some cats will spray walls in the home. This usually applies to unneutered males who are marking territory and unspayed females who want to mate. This is triggered by hormones. You can usually help your cat avoid these behaviors by having him or her neutered or spayed at the appropriate time.
Cats can also spray because they are anxious or upset. This can be caused by diet, disagreements over territory with another cat, or even not getting enough play. If your cat is upset with another cat in your home, it’s up to you to help them work out their problems. If your cat is anxious, you can try to use a diffuser that releases a synthetic cat pheromone that calms cats. Talk to your vet about these issues so you can find solutions.
Cleaning Cat Urine
The longer you allow cat urine to sit, the worse the odor will become. Once the stain dries you may not be able to see it but you will certainly be able to smell it. Your cat will also know it’s there and s/he will be drawn back to the spot and encouraged to mark it again and again. For these reasons you must clean up cat urine as fast as possible.
There are several good ways to get rid of cat urine.
Vinegar may have its own odor but it’s a good way to get rid of cat urine. It’s an acid and it neutralizes urine. Use one part water and one part vinegar to clean walls and floors where your cat has peed. The vinegar smell will disappear in a few days and take the cat urine odor with it.
Enyme-based cleaners are also very good at removing cat urine and urine odor. You can use them on carpets, furniture, and linens. There are several good enzyme-based cleaners made for cleaning pet urine. They’re easy to find at pet stores and online. The enzymes in these cleaners break down the acid in cat urine and get rid of the odor. They contain natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria that combat the bad bacteria in the urine that produces that terrible odor.
When cleaning up cat urine it’s especially important to get rid of the odor so your cat can’t smell it. If your cat can still smell it, he will be tempted to return to the spot and mark it again.
You should avoid using any products that contain ammonia. Urine contains ammonia so if you use ammonia to clean up the urine, you can actually encourage your cat to go back to the spot. And no bleach when cleaning up cat urine or the odor associated with it. A combination of these products can produce hazardous gases.
Getting Cat Urine Odor Out of Carpets and Furniture
If your cat has peed on the carpet, you should try to find the stain as soon as possible. Blot as much of the urine as you can with a clean cloth. Rinse the area with clean water and use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the water. If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum, use more clean cloths or towels to blot and remove the water. Douse the spot with an enzyme cleaner. Let the cleaner sit for 10-15 minutes then blot as much of the cleaner as possible with a clean cloth or towel. Let the area dry and keep your cat away from it by placing an upside down laundry basket over it. You may need to reapply the enzyme cleaner and repeat if the odor is very stubborn.
Discourage your cat from marking in that area by placing food bowls or toys in that space.
You can clean cushions and mattresses in the same way. These pieces of furniture can take a long time to dry so plan ahead.
If your cat has started to make a habit of peeing on your furniture or bed, consider using a tarp or plastic cover over the furniture or bed until the behavior problem is solved.
Removing Urine Odor From Clothing and Linens
If your cat has peed on your bed linens or on your clothing, rinse the spot in a sink of cool water before washing them in your washing machine. Use detergent with a cup of baking soda or ¼ cup of cider vinegar. If you’re still able to smell the urine after the wash has finished, use some enzymatic cleaner in the wash. (Check the directions on the bottle.) Air-dry your linens after washing. Dryer heat could cause the urine odor to stay. In some cases you may need to re-wash your clothes or linens to completely banish the cat urine odor.