There’s plenty to love about our feline companions. The purrs! The toe beans! The small teefers! All cats are precious (and sometimes weird and chaotic) baby angels, obviously. That cat pee smell, though? Well...that’s less than heavenly.
When cat pee outside of the litter box is left unnoticed, bacteria eventually decompose the urea (a metabolic waste concentrate), which produces the distinctly unpleasant, ammonia-like smell of cat urine. Unneutered male cats’ urine has hormones in it that only add to the overall stink.
This odor latches onto just about any surface: walls, floors, upholstery, and clothing. Luckily, there are plenty of simple solutions for getting rid of stubborn cat stains and odor that will get your house smelling feline fresh in no time.
Assuming your cats aren’t taking nature calls elsewhere in the house (we’ll address rebellious streaks later), it’s best to start at the source of the smell: a dirty litter box. No one likes a filthy, stuffy bathroom, so keep your cat's litter box fresh with these easy steps:
So, your precious fur-child is defiantly peeing and pooping everywhere but the designated location for such activities. Cats are nothing if not major divas, and they can be frustratingly finicky about their litter box situation for a number of reasons:
Small changes to the litter box itself might eliminate the, er, elimination problem entirely, but if not, keep reading for more cat odor-erasing hacks.
Getting rid of a serious odor takes serious supplies, and when it comes to cat odor, it’s best to think like a chemist. Cat urine is made up of many components, some of which can be thoroughly cleaned with household cleaners like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda.
Other components, however, can only be completely broken down by enzymatic reaction. For example, cleaning uric acid with the aforementioned household products will only provide a temporary fix until exposure to humidity causes uric acid crystals to reform and the smell to return. For this reason, enzymatic cleaners are the best option for eliminating cat odors and stains.
There are hundreds of enzymatic deep cleaners on the market, and not all are created equal. We’ve found these enzymatic cleaners to be the most promising (and affordable):
Fragrance sprays and candles can mask milder cat odors. Burning incense, particularly strong, heady fragrances like nag champa, tend to work better on more pervasive smells. Smoke odor eliminator candles also work well to cover up notoriously long-lasting smells like cigarette smoke, burnt oil, and cat pee.
Equally important in the battle against cat urine odor is knowing what cleaning products and techniques not to use. For the best chance of getting rid of cat pee smell, avoid these rookie mistakes and not-so-great cleaning products and tools.
You’ve scrubbed, you’ve sprayed, you’ve tried 10 different litter box models, and still, nothing works. Before you go from “crazy cat lady” to “legitimately crazy cat lady,” consider potential underlying causes of malodorous behaviors.
Cats communicate with humans in several ways, and while it might take some getting used to the subtleties of their meowed cues, it's important to listen. Pee-soaked couch cushions are definitely annoying, but it might be the only way your kitty knows how to get their point across.
All cats are unique, which means there's no one-size-fits-all solution to eliminating cat odors from your living space. Be patient with both yourself and your feline friend as you work together to find the right routine. Although it might not feel like it when you're scooping their poop with a shovel, cat ownership is a two-way street. Both parties need to feel safe, comfortable, and healthy for the relationship to thrive.
Even if the end seems nowhere in sight, keep at it. Professional medical and rehabilitative options should always be pursued before surrendering cats to shelters or humane societies. With patience, love, and a bit of human-to-pet communication, you'll be able to enjoy odor-free cuddle sessions, nose boops, and playtime for years to come.