Cats can be elegant and beautiful creatures, blessing your home with their grace and charm. They can also bless your home with other, less pleasant things. Cats urinate around the home for a number of reasons: they haven’t quite got the hang of the litter-box yet, they have medical or psychological problems that cause them to have trouble holding their wee, or they’re trying to mark their territory. In any event, getting rid of that cat-urine smell is all part of being a cat guardian. Conventional cleaners can get rid of the waste and bacteria, but the odour can be much more tenacious.
How long does cat urine odour last? If it’s not removed using appropriate remedies, the smell of cat urine can effectively be permanent. Conventional cleaners don’t always get rid of the smell, as they don’t break down the ammonia and other compounds responsible. With appropriate cleaners, the smell can be removed in a few hours.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about cat urine odours in the home. How long will the smell of cat urine linger? What makes this particular smell so hard to get rid of? Why does the odour seem to disappear and then come back? Can cat urine odour ever be removed permanently? Why do cats urinate in inappropriate places, and how can I stop this? Keep reading, because we have the answers you’re looking for. You’ll find out why cats urinate and spray in places you’d rather they didn’t, and how to banish urine odours for good.
How Long Does Cat Urine Odour Last?
Effectively, cat urine odour can last forever. It’s one of the most persistent smells imaginable, with a way of hanging around no matter how much you try to scrub the stain or cover up the offending smell with air fresheners or pot-pourri.
After a good round of scrubbing with detergent and carpet-cleaner, you may think you’ve finally got rid of the smell. You might try lighting some incense nearby or flinging open the windows. After a time, the odour may seem to disperse. This blessed relief will usually last until the next time you return home after being out for the day. Why does cat urine odour seem to vanish and then return?
In fact, the smell hasn’t gone anywhere. You’ve simply become desensitised to it. When you’re exposed to a smell for a long period of time, the neurons involved with your olfactory systems eventually stop transmitting the signal. That’s why you’ll meet people who will swear blind that their cats are mysteriously odour-free, even when you can smell a strong odour of cat urine any time you enter their homes. This can be frustrating and embarrassing for the house-proud cat owner. The only thing worse than having a persistent smell in your home that you can’t get rid of is a smell that you can’t detect and your visitors can.
Conventional cleaners often fail to deal with the issue. It’s particularly bad when carpets or soft furnishings are involved, as they absorb the odour and make it very hard to get rid of. Even hard but porous surfaces, like unsealed wooden floors or certain types of linoleum, can soak up the smell and resist all efforts to scrub it away. When I was a first-time cat owner, I would return to the scene of the crime over and over again, scrubbing with every product I could think of and getting absolutely nowhere.
If the problem is just the smell from the litter-box, you can help by changing the litter more frequently. You should also wash the box with a mild detergent on a regular basis.
Why Does Cat Urine Smell?
Cat urine contains a variety of bad-smelling compounds. The main offender is ammonia. Like all animals, a cat’s urine contains urea; this is an odourless substance, but it breaks down into ammonia when it’s exposed to air. Ammonia has a very strong and very unpleasant smell, and since cat urine is fairly concentrated, there’s a lot of it present.
There are other compounds involved as well. Male cats concentrate testosterone in their urine, giving it a more pungent smell. A cat’s spray is a combination of urine and certain pheromones that cats and other animals can detect. Regrettably, it also smells strongly to humans. In the wild, feral cats use this strong-smelling spray to mark their turf.
There are various conditions that can exacerbate the problem. Dehydration can make the problem worse, since it makes the urine more concentrated. Urinary tract infections can produce a lot of additional odour — as well as making accidents outside the litter-box more likely.
The result of all this is a collection of very distressing smells that can make being a cat owner more challenging than it needs to be be. Luckily, there is a solution. Read on to find out about how you can deal with cat urine odour.
How to Get Rid of Cat Urine Odour
You’ve tried detergents, carpet cleaners and disinfectants. You’ve tried baking soda and lemon juice. You’ve scrubbed and rinsed and scrubbed again, you’ve opened every window and used every type of air freshener. That stubborn smell just won’t go away. What can you do?
The secret is to use the appropriate cleaner. Most cleaners and detergents don’t break down the ammonia and other compounds that create the odour. What you need is an enzymatic cleaner.
Enzymatic cleaners, as the name suggests, contain enzymes. These are compounds that facilitate chemical reactions, by binding to molecules in specific ways. In living creatures, enzymes are important in many biological processes. In cleaning, they’re important for getting rid of odours and stains that get left behind by conventional cleaning products.
My recommendation is to look for a product that’s specifically intended for use on pet accidents. You’ll find plenty in your local pet store, and a few in larger supermarkets too. Check that the product is certified for use on soft furnishings and carpets before you apply it, and maybe try a little out on an unobtrusive area. If the affected item is something you can machine wash, try running it through your machine with a biological laundry detergent. These also contain enzymes and are very good at getting rid of the smell of cat urine.
Why Does My Cat Urinate on the Carpet?
Inappropriate urination can have many causes. If your cat is still young or you’ve just got her, she may simply not be properly housetrained yet. You can help by placing a litter-box in the areas where she’s been urinating. If there’s solid waste, scoop this up with newspaper and deposit it in the litter-box to help her get the idea.
A cat this is litter-trained may start urinating in the wrong place because of stress or anxiety. She feels that her territory is being threatened in some way, so she’s marking it in the only way she knows how. Address the source of her anxiety so that she feels safer and goes back to using her litter-box. Make sure to remove any lingering cat urine odour from the soiled items, as this can encourage her to return and do it again.
Cats may have accidents outside the litter-box if there’s another cat in the household that stops her from using it. Some cats can get very fussy about who gets to use “their” box. As a rule, you’ll a litter-box for each cat plus one extra. Yes, that’s a lot of boxes to have around; it’s still better than cleaning up cat wee.
Urinary and bladder infections can cause cats to miss the litter-box on occasion. If the cat is suffering from pain and discomfort, she may even urinate on a chair or a bed. This isn’t spiteful or wilfully destructive. She’s seeking the comfort of a familiar spot to help her cope with the distress that comes with urination.
I know this isn’t much help when you’re tossing out a favourite cushion, but it’s really not her fault. Treating the illness can help with problem behaviour. My British Shorthair had this issue. As with most British Shorthair cats, he’s normally great about using the box; when he started having accidents, I knew something was wrong. A course of medicine from the vet soon had him back to his normal fastidious self.