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How To Get Rid of Cat Urine Smell In the House or Yard

Updated on March 21, 2016
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Enda is an avid gardener and also a builder who loves creative landscaping. He loves to share his tips with those who enjoy their gardening

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Cat Urine Truly Smells Awful -How To Get Rid Of It For Good

I think we all know that cat urine stinks and can be an over powering smell. In this article I will tell you how I went about getting rid of that odour once and for all. I have read when doing my research that there is no way to get rid of a cat urine smell especially on carpets.

That is actually true in most cases but it depends on a number of things which I will discuss in this article. One thing I would say is please ignore the old wives tales that you may read or hear. Most of those are nonsense and what people did back in the day because there were no other options.

In this article I will take you through the practical options for getting rid of that horrible cat urine smell in your home and we shall also look at how to get rid of it from walls and yards.

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Cat Urine Truly Stinks

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What Makes Cat Pee Smell So Bad?

This may just surprise you. Human urine and animal urine all smell and the smell is none too pleasant. Cat pee is not any different to any other animal's urine and contains salt, electrolytes and uric acid. The big difference is that cats mark their territory by spraying urine. This is an instinctive natural behaviour of the entire family of cats.

Many cat owners think that if they have a cat litter and the cat has been trained to use it, then they will not experience any urine smells. That isn't true and cats will spray carpets, walls etc both inside and outside the house.

When Does It Smell?

It is when these sprays of urine start to break down that ammonia is released and it is that which truly stinks to the high heavens. That is probably the first time you will really start to notice the stench. The bad news is this gets much worse.

After the ammonia release another chemical reaction releases what is called mercaptan. When I looked that up I was stunned. If you know about skunks then you will know if they feel threatened that they will spray the most awful stink at their attackers. Yes - that is what cat urine releases if left untreated.

Most Effective Cat Urine Removal Products

There are many hundreds of cat urine odor removal products available in the market place. There are however only a few in my opinion that have any track record of working and being effective. I have listed these below.

Above I have also included a UV light that quickly identifies areas where a cat or a dog may have urinated. These are pretty handy to have especially if you are a cat or dog owner.

Some other great tips do exist and you may be able to use products that you already have in your home so let's have a quick look at those.

Baking Soda

Many people swear by this. You quite simply dust some baking soda on the effected spot and this absorbs both the smell and dries up the stain. To be honest, there are mixed reports on this one with some people claiming great success and others saying it was a waste of time. People also use this to remove spilled milk in a car, and I tried that, but it really didn't work for me.

Vinegar

Quite a few people stated that they had used white vinegar to neutralize the smell of cat urine. When you find the stain, splash on some white vinegar and leave it for about 15 minutes and then use a cloth to clean it up. I am rather dubious about this method as vinegar could easily stain carpets, and your house will smell of vinegar, so this one would not be top of my list either.

Paper and Charcoal

An interesting one, though I have not tried it, but I do get the theory behind it. You place a few pieces of charcoal on some newspaper, in each effected room of the house and open the windows. Leave it like this for a couple of hours, and apparently the cat urine smell will be gone.

If anyone has tried this please let me know down below in the comments.

So those are some tips and tricks, but the products I have listed below are I think a more guaranteed method of working.

Cat Odor Remover

Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Urine Destroyer Intense Urine Stain & Odor Remover, 32-Ounce Pour Bottle (P-5721)
Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Urine Destroyer Intense Urine Stain & Odor Remover, 32-Ounce Pour Bottle (P-5721)

This one deals really well with stronger smells and with the removal of yellow stains. If you find that you have really tough to move stains and continuing smells, then this is a good product to choose.

It should be available in many stores and garden centres.

 

Great Video On How To Remove Cat Urine Smell For Good

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Using UV Light To Find Where A Cat Has Left Urine

If you have tried to find out exactly where the cat may have urinated in your home, and just can't find it, then you may need some scientific help. One thing that really shows up cat urine is a UV light. There are even lights like this, often called black light, that can detect dog, cat and even rodent urine patches.

They are really simple to use and they are not overly expensive. If you have tried and failed to find the source of the smell, then this useful set of lights will help you do that in a flash.

Ultra Violet Cat Urine Detector

UV Flashlight Pet Urine Detector by Doggone Pet Products - Blacklight Finds Dry Dog & Cat Stains on Carpets, Hard Floors & Paint. Alkaline Batteries Included With 12 LED Ultra Violet Blacklight
UV Flashlight Pet Urine Detector by Doggone Pet Products - Blacklight Finds Dry Dog & Cat Stains on Carpets, Hard Floors & Paint. Alkaline Batteries Included With 12 LED Ultra Violet Blacklight

Finding the patch or patches where cats have done their business. Well at least it used to be until some clever person invented this ultra violet light. Switch this on and it clearly points out stained areas in a flash.

 

Cat Urine Odors Identified

Male cats will spray more than female cats and it will smell stronger. If a male cat is not neutered then it will smell even stronger again. This is because certain hormones are very strong and increase the strength and smell of the pee. When this happens then the smell of cat pee in your home can be really bad. Let's have a look at where cats will normally spray and urinate.

Carpets

Cat urine will stain carpets and they will also stain fabrics such as curtains and table cloths. The longer it is left untreated then the more difficult it is to clean. Act quickly and you stand a good chance. If left untreated for even a few days, you are probably looking at a new carpet.

Identifying The Smell Location

You can normally locate it simply by smell. Some people advise to feel for a damp spot with your bare hand but please never do that. If you own an ultra violet light or a black light, then cat urine will show up using this.

Once located put on gloves and absorb as much as you can with paper towels and something like Lysol or any type of disinfectant spray. This is important - dab the carpet lightly and don't rub heavily as that will push the urine down into the pile of the carpet.

If you have a steam cleaner then time for it to go to work. Use a cat urine cleaner (vinegar does not work) and a steam cleaner will work if you catch it early. On wooden floors this is also a good idea and should lift most of the urine. We still need to deal with the smell.

Nature's Miracle Quart or Secret Weapon is ideal for this and removes yellow staining and all residues. Once you have absorbed what you can using paper towels then you soak the affected area with this agent and make sure it gets all the way down into the carpet.

This can take 1-2 weeks to dry. If the smell remains then repeat this process until it is gone.

Door Entrances

Cats are territorial creatures by nature and they will mark places like the entrances to your home. They are basically telling other cats, that they live here and to stay out. Very typical a great deal of cat smell will come from this marking process.

Curtains & Drapes

Yes even here, cats tend to spray as to them a window just looks like an outside space. Cats as you know also like to climb and when they see open space, they will spray.

Plant Pots

They simply view this as a handy litter box, especially if the plant pot has soil and gravel on the top of it.

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Getting Rid of Really Strong Cat Urine Smells

My sister in law moved into a house and the back hall and dining area smelled really bad. The previous owners had two cats and we knew instantly what the problem was - cat urine and spraying. She had this problem once before and had used Miracle to get rid of the urine smell.

This time it was simply not enough. The smell had been left untreated for too long and had probably been happening for a long time. The carpet was very damp and the smell was really bad when the windows were kept closed.

She called me and we knew that simply a new carpet was required. However when we removed that it had got down into the under felt and had also seeped into the ground which was concrete. There is only one way to fix that.

We threw out the carpet and underlay. We also treated the ground with Miracle until all smells had gone. We then had to use a sealer to make sure the concrete was protected and that the damp could not ride up through it and back into the new underlay.

You don't need to buy expensive concrete sealers and only enough to spray or pain the affected area. Make sure it is well coated and give it plenty of time to dry out.

It was nearly three weeks before we were certain the smell was gone and she got her new carpet. It was a lot of work but at least we knew it was done right.

Popular Pet Odor Removal

STINK FREE Instantly! Urine Odor Remover for Pet Urine 32 Oz Bottle
STINK FREE Instantly! Urine Odor Remover for Pet Urine 32 Oz Bottle

Those who bought this one did so based on reviews from other people with the same problem.

The reviews are extremely impressive.

 

Video On Removing Cat Urine Smells from Carpets

Getting Rid of Cat Urine Smell on Walls

Inside & Outside of The House

Hopefully this is on the outside of your home and not the inside. I will cover both problems here but you can be more abrasive if on the outside of the house.

Inside the House

Let's deal with the toughest one first. If urine and spray has contacted the walls then it depends on the material the wall is made of and what is covering it. Typically this will be a wall constructed of wood or plaster board.

If it has been covered with wall paper it then also depends on the type of paper that was used. There are two main types:

1 Vinyl

2 Ordinary wallpaper

If it is vinyl or the surface has been painted then you are in luck. This will wash off and the urine should not have soaked through. It will need to be washed and disinfected first and then apply one of the many products I have shown above to kill off any smells.

If the surface was covered with ordinary wallpaper then most likely it has soaked through to whatever is underneath and the first stage is to remove the wallpaper. There really is no other way of dealing with this other than removing it.

Most likely underneath there will either be plaster board or a wooden structure of some kind. Just pray that it hasn't soaked all the way through. If it has you could cut out the effected area and get it pieced back in again. I promise you that if it has soaked all the way through something like a porous surface you will never be able to dry it out and get rid of the strong smell.

This may seem a drastic measure but it is the only effective way to remove this type of cat urine damage. Hopefully it is only a small area and this can be cut out and filled with a foam and then sanded down to a smooth finish. After that you can then either paint the surface or wallpaper it again.

Outside The House

If the surface is wooden it should have some form of exterior protection. These are normally treated woods to stop them rotting. Again disinfect the area and wash thoroughly. Apply one of the products above and leave for two weeks. Check again and re-apply if required. It will eventually go away.

If the surface is concrete, brick or some form of cement block or plastering then it could have soaked in. This will take a bit more work to remove. If you have a power hose or a pressure washer give it a good blast with that. Then apply something like Miracle and give it a thorough soaking.

Leave again and check in 2 weeks. Repeat until the smell is gone and then when it has, apply a water sealant as I described earlier. That should keep the smell at bay for good.

Rocco & Roxie For Odor Bashing & Elimination

Quite a few people have written to me and said that they used this product. Until they did, it was not one that I was familiar with, so I checked it out, specifically for dealing with the stench of cat urine of course.

I noticed first of all that this product is a best seller with over 500 reviews and an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. That certainly got my attention. I have not used this myself so I will not be able to do a full review until I have personally tried it. Those who have left reviews have certainly been impressed.

I will update when I have tested this myself.

Preventing A Cat Urinating In The House

They all do it - try to catch them doing it and quickly spray them with cold water. It doesn't hurt them and eventually they reduce greatly and sometimes stop all together.

If you have a male cat get it neutered. This will help with litter training and less strong urine.

Clean the urine as soon as you see it.

If you have house plants, then they are also worth checking out. Many cats will use these in a similar way to a litter box, so just be aware of that. This is especially true if the plants are large and sitting on the floor.

Also if you ever notice your cat using newspaper to pee on, then place that into their litter box, as this will indicate to them that the litter box and the smell are associated.

Have You Any Ideas of Getting Rid of Cat Urine Smells

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    • Shirley Lalonde profile image

      Shirley 4 weeks ago from Gatineau, Quebec

      My female cat would pee all around the house when she was in heat.

      I used a few things such Javex to get rid of the smell it worked but she would do it again guess with was not strong enough for her. lol Then someone told me to use vinegar work like a charm but then found out that when she was in heat she would redo it again and again.

      Got fed up and got her spayed hope this work because if not i don't know what i will do.

      However i did get rid of the smell with a few things together. I put disinfectant like Pine Sol (i used the scented one like Pomegranate) in a bucket of water and then after cleaning the area took a little bowl and put in pure vinegar (do not dilute it) and dip the rag in and rub the area with it. It worked but to be on the safe side i also had my cat spayed.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 8 weeks ago from Oakley, CA

      It is worth noting that the younger a cat is neutered, the less likely it will develop the habit of spraying in the first place. This is a habit that usually comes with approaching sexual maturity.

      Also, if you are not on a concrete slab, but have wooden subfloor under your carpet (as we do), you are probably in deep trouble and a lot of $$ to get the issue fixed, as it has probably soaked through both the carpet and pad, and is in the wood beneath. This is no easy fix. We are battling this exact issue (long story, but it involves a household with 5 cats, and a relative newcomer, an adopted/tamed feral).

      I am planning to essentially 'flood' the area with Nature's Miracle, and let THAT soak through everything, then shampoo, and pull up any excess liquid with the wet/dry shop vacuum, if need be.

    • JuanKoss profile image

      JuanKoss 2 months ago from New York

      Great post. Articles that have meaningful and insightful comments are more enjoyable, at least to me. It’s interesting to read what other people thought and how it relates to them or their readers, as their perspective could possibly help you in the future.

    • profile image

      echo 14 months ago

      i tried the charcoal and newspaper to remove cat urine smell in my house and it s effective.

    • profile image

      lisak1998@yahoo.com 15 months ago

      i have 2 female cats i fixed and they other not. neither one goes outside.within the last few weeks i have noticed strong cat urine smell in house that is extremely strong under basement steps and along back wall in basement. We have noticed this smell on and off since we moved in 8 years ago when it would rain (had a fixed male cat then, has passed). Really believe it's coming from outside through the foundation

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      gloria 16 months ago

      i use woolite advanced pet stain and odor remover works great on smells and stain on carpet $4.00 for a 22 oz bottle little high but works great

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i always hear people say vinegar helps, gonna buy a bottle tomorrow, black or white?

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @melissaj8: Thanks for the question Melissa. I have also witnessed this problem in a friend's house in Canada. Cats do like to treat large and covered areas as a toilet and also to mark out their territory. Great for them and bad news for us.

      One natural way to do this is to sprinkle orange peel where they tend to do their business as they really don't like the smell of oranges. Now believe it or not some garden centres actually sell lion dung and if that is spread around, cats will come nowhere near it. It is hard to find though.

      Anything with the smell of citrus works best and over time the cats will disappear.

      There are also ultrasonic repellents thought most of them don't work. The one that seems to work best is called Contech Stay Away Motion but it costs around $50. I would go with the orange peel first and see if that works. You also get to eat the oranges which are good for you. Hope this helps

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      ginaj 3 years ago

      P.S. Have you ever heard of and/or tried SCOE 10X Super Concentrate?

      It came up in my Google search and has some pretty powerful customer reviews, and is less expensive than the OdorFix. Just wondering if you would have any input on that product or not? I'm desperate to get rid of the odor, but I'm unemployed at the moment and can't spend $140 for 1 gal of OdorFix, that I know won't be enough for the space we need to spray it. I wish we could get the OdorFix! But sadly, I think we'd end up having to spend hundreds of dollars to cover the area we need to cover.

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      melissaj8 3 years ago

      Do you know what would work best for a large outdoor area under a house? We have a huge feral cat problem on our property and I don't know what to do. Is there something that will repel them as well? We try to trap but it is so difficult. The smell is horrendous and I can smell it all over the back deck and in the house near vents and certain walls. Thank you for the informative article. I'm hoping I can resolve this issue soon!

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @ginaj: You are right it is the old urine that is causing the problem. If you can get any air into it, that will initially help. Long term though it needs to be treated somehow. From what I have read though that is going to be a tough task. Good luck and I hope you can find a way.

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      ginaj 3 years ago

      @endamclarnon: I forgot to mention, the cats haven't been up under the flooring using the dirt space for a litter in over a year, once we found out about it we blocked it off. They're very good about using the litterbox, and they don't, nor have they ever sprayed. If they were sprayers, we'd have to give them up. But the odors are coming from year old urine that we can't get rid of because of location.

    • profile image

      ginaj 3 years ago

      @endamclarnon: Thank you for your reply! I will have to see how hard it would be to dig out the area...or get a portable sprayer and douse it the best we can a few times to see if it helps. It's a pretty tight crawl space :o(

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @ginaj: Thanks for the question Gina J...I haven't heard of it but will very quickly look into it and see what I can find out. I will add something of value when I do.

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      ginaj 3 years ago

      I have 2 male cats...neither has ever sprayed or urinated outside the litter box the first 6 years I had them, as they were neutered young enough and litter box trained. It wasn't until I moved into my boyfriend's house in 2012 that they started going outside the litterbox... in the basement, there's an opening to get to the dirt floor under the laundry room, which is just off the kitchen. We didn't know they were crawling in there and using the dirt floor as a litter box until I got suspicious about there not being much to clean out of the litter box itself. We never noticed a smell either until the following spring (2013) when the snow was melting and it got humid out. It's now 2014, and we have the opening to the dirt floor section blocked off, but the smell is unbearable...even to the point where I have to take allergy pills because my eyes burn so bad. Since blocking off the dirt floor area, they began using their litter again, which is in the basement. This spring has been the worst ever...the smell of cat urine has emanated the house all the way up to the 2nd level where the bedrooms are. The basement door is off my sewing room on the main floor, and I have to leave the basement door open all the time so the cats can get to the litterbox. I have a tension rod in the door frame with an insulated curtain hanging in the doorway to help keep the draft out, but the smell is overpowering. IDK what to do...we can't physically get to that dirt floor area....it's smaller than a crawl space. Would your suggestion be to get some sort of a sprayer with the power to spray to the back of that area, and just douse it with the odorfix?

      Growing up, my boyfriend's parents never allowed pets in the house, so when they purchased the house in the 1960s up until 2012, the inside of this house had never seen an animal. So there were no pet smells to begin with. The house belongs to my boyfriend's sister, which was willed to her when their parents passed away. She's letting us live here and take care of the place temporarily. She has told us she better NEVER smell cat pee in this house anytime she may ever stop by. Fortunately she maybe stops by once a year...but I and my boyfriend are physically being affected by the smell now, and can't deal with it. My boyfriend loves my cats, but the smell is making him so mad, he's talking about wanting me to have them put down. I don't blame him, but I've had cats my whole life...since kindergarten by in the 1970s...never had a cat pee smell till the last couple of years. My cats are 8 years old this year, and they never lived in a place that had a dirt floor section in a basement, so when moving here I supposed it seemed like the grand litterbox of all litterboxes. IDK what to do...I'm just so beside myself. Even their litterbox and the surrounding area doesn't smell hardly at all. UGH...any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @marsha32: Thanks Marsha for your very kind comments. My daughter moved into a house where the previous owner had a lot of cats. It took us a while to find the different areas but we got there in the end. They can be really hard to find. I am glad you found this article helpful as that is what it was supposed to be.

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      marsha32 3 years ago

      I want to thank you for actually give sane advice here. The last one of these I opened the person that built the lens told NOTHING. The whole lens was them attempting to sell an ebook with the answers.

      We are plagued with too many cats and the majority of them being male. I so love cats, but 8 in the house is just too many and the male cats are now marking their territory. They also don't always use the litter box.

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @audrey07: Thanks Audrey, and yes, boy does it smell!

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @ConvenientCalendar: Thanks very much. A few people have mentioned this product to me and it seems to work well on furniture and fabrics.

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @anonymous: Thanks for that tip Matt. I had never heard of it but will certainly be checking it out.

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @ChristyZ: Hi Christy, that is so very true. It does not cost that much to get done and well worth it.

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @RuralFloridaLiving: Thanks very much, I am glad you found it informative

    • endamclarnon profile image
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      Enda McLarnon 3 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @RuralFloridaLiving: Thanks very much. I am delighted that you found it informative.

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      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Really informative article!

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      ChristyZ 4 years ago

      It's really important to get male cats fixed while they are young. I think many male cats end up on the street because the owners can't deal with the spraying. These are great tips, very helpful.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What makes the smell of something, like cat urine or smoking odors? The smell is made of invisible gases that have vaporized from the source. These vaporized odors float in the air attaching to any airborne particles carrying the odors and toxins throughout the room. Permanently resolve these issues with, Air-ReNu a paint additive, turns any wall, surface, into a permanent air, purification system no electricity or filters required.

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      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      Febreeze usually works for me!

    • audrey07 profile image

      audrey07 4 years ago

      I don't have a cat at home but I'm sure the house can stink if your cat has urinated somewhere indoor, especially on the carpet.