Contrary to stereotypes, owning a cat doesn’t mean your house will stink of cat pee. I can vouch for this: my house smells just fine!
Beyond the first few weeks of kittenhood, most cats will figure out where they’re supposed to go to the toilet, and won’t deviate from that unless they’re sick or there’s another major problem.
However when accidents do happen, you need to clean them up properly or it can create a vicious cycle.
Why is Cat Pee so difficult to Clean?
The pugent smell of cat urine or spray (yes they’re the the same) is largely due to its pheromone content. In the wild, pheromones are used to mark territory and attract mates via smell. Cat urine also contains other foul-smelling ingredients such as urea, uric acid, bacteria and ammonia (source).
If that wasn’t bad enough, if you don’t clean the pee stain right away, bacteria will start to break down the uric acid crystals to make even more stinking chemicals. This means that the odor of cat urine gets worse over time.
Urea crystals are tricky to remove and if they are not 100% cleared the cat will smell the urine and continue using the same area as a toilet. Traditional cleaners like bleach contain ammonia which also smells like urine to cats and exacerbates the problem.
Conventional cleaners also contain chemicals which will make your cat sick. Their paws constantly touch the floor and then they lick themselves. If you clean your floor with bleach, your cat will lick up bleach residue which is obviously extremely dangerous.
You can see why cleaning cat pee is a bit more complicated than other simple stains, but the good news is that there are specially designed cleaners for cat urine that will keep your home smelling fresh.
Which Cleaners are Safe for Cats?
A safe and effective alternative to ammonia based products are enzymatic cleaners. Enzymes are biological substances which break down the pheromones and uric acid in cat urine. Many of these products also contain harmless bacteria which help break down the odor and solvents such as isopropyl alcohol to dissolve and wash away the mess.
Below I’ve taken a look at some of the most popular brands of cleaner for cat urine and how they work.
Urine Off is a line of products created by Bio-Pro Research, a company specialising in developing stain and odor removers using enzyme technology. In addition to pet cleaning products, Bio-Pro Research lists healthcare, hospitality, dry cleaning and commercial aviation among industries served – quite an interesting portfolio!
Getting into the specifics of Urine Off Cat & Kitten Formula, I couldn’t find a complete ingredient listing but it’s described as a “bio-enzymatic formula” with “pheromone blockers” which eliminates dried uric acid crystals so it’s safe to assume that it works in the same way as other enzymatic cleaners. It’s also worth noting that there’s no added fragrance so it aims to eliminate the source of the smell rather than masking it.
As for usage, it’s safe for use on carpets, upholstery, litter boxes, tiles, walls, hardwood floors and more. We can infer from this that it does not contain hydrogen peroxide which is known for lightening hardwood floors.
Looking at certification, Urine Off has been approved as safe by the Carpet Rug Institute and is touted as being used by groomers, trainers, kennels, and veterinarians. This is reassuring as not only do these folks have to deal with lots of animal stains, vets also know what’s safe for your pet.
The technique for using an enzymatic cleaner is a bit more complicated than you might be used to so make sure to follow the package instructions:
- First check that the stained surface is colorfast by applying a small amount of product to a concealed area.
- Dry up any fresh urine with a paper towel.
- Saturate the soiled area with Urine Off well beyond the visible edge of the stain. For hard surfaces and litter boxes, scrub with a brush to help the product penetrate.
- For fresh stains, leave it to work for a minimum of a few minutes. For old stains, cover the area with plastic and leave it over night. Remove the plastic and air dry. Re apply and leave the product on for a few minutes. Old stains may require multiple treatments.
- Remove residue with water.
Most people report great results from using this product, and if it doesn’t work for you, the company’s customer service is there to help solve the problem. In most cases failed results are due to incorrect application. There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee, so I think you’ve nothing to lose when it comes to giving this product a try.
Urine Destroyer comes to us from Nature’s Miracle, a company specialising in “pet clean-up solutions”. A company created by pet owners, Nature’s Miracle has been around since 1981, giving them nearly four decades of experience in the industry.
Urine Destroyer’s ingredient list is pretty straighforward, mentioning a “bio-enzymatic odor lock” and “oxygen boosters” which we can presume are the enzymatic components along with isopropyl alcohol as a solvent and a fragrance. The fragrance isn’t to everyone’s taste but it’s got to be an improvement over the smell of cat pee, right?
Moving on to application, Urine Destroyer is suitable for use on carpets, upholstry, linens, floors, shower curtains, clothing, blankets, pet bedding, walls and “any other place where your pet urinates”.
Instructions for use are similar to most other enzymatic cleaners:
- Wipe up as much of the stain as possible, then thoroughly soak with product.
- Wait five minutes, then wipe away the stain with a cloth. For tough stains, use a stiff bristle brush.
- If stain is not completely removed, re-soak area and allow product to work for one hour, then wipe stain with a cloth.
- For laundry use, saturate stained areas with product at full strength before washing. Then wash as usual.
The company has made a rather funny video explaining how the process works, which you can see below. Don’t let the references to dogs put you off, this product works for all varieties of pet urine, including cats.
The Anti-Icky Poo range of cleaning products comes to us from MisterMax. This company has been around since 1984; it started out with a focus on professional cleaning of upholstered furniture, draperies, carpeting and other fabrics on location. From there it expanded and today the Anti-Icky Poo is the main product line, targeting not only pet urine but other biological stains and odors including feces, skunk spray, vomit, and more…now I understand where the “icky” in the name came from!
This is the first of the cat urine removers we’ve looked at which contains both enzymes and live bacteria. For those of us who are sensitive to fragrances, you’ll be happy to hear that it comes in scented and unscented varieties. One unique selling point for this cleaner is the pre-treatment offered in the same line. Usually if you’ve already used a conventional cleaner on a cat urine stain it will set the stain and inactivate enzyme cleaners, however the pre-treatment from Mister Max allows their enzyme cleaner to work despite previous chemical use on the area.
Anti-Icky Poo is suitable for use on all surfaces, including floors, fabrics and even urinals and drains. However they do recommend testing fine fabrics for colorfastness before applying. It’s just common sense.
Application involves cleaning the area with the product and allowing it to air dry, leaving a residue. If the stain is on a carpet they recommend lifting it up and treating all layers.
Mister Max states that their product has been rated number 1 by top behaviorist, veterinarians and animal professionals, which is reassuring in terms of safety. Another reassurance is that this product promises to “get the stink out or your money back”, no matter how long ago you ordered (source).
Another multi-purpose enzyme cleaner, Pet Stain & Odor Miracle comes to us from Sunny & Honey. Their mission statement is to create products with simple and easy to understand ingredients which are effective, safe for your pets and home, earth-friendly, and animal cruelty-free certified. A noble aim!
The ingredient list includes enzymatic bacteria along with a mint fragrance and surfactants (soap) to break down dirt. It targets not only pet urine but all organic stains and odors caused by feces, vomit and drool. Pet Stain & Odor Miracle is safe for use on carpets, rugs, hardwood, tile, cloth and leather furniture, animal bedding, pet crates, litter boxes, pet travel bags and more.
Sunny & Honey’s Pet Stain & Odor Miracle is certified safe to use around children and pets. Instructions for use are straightforward:
- Soak up cat urine with an absorbent towel.
- Spray a generous amount of product on the affeceted area. Allow the solution to work for 10 minutes (one hour for severe odor removal)
- Dry the area with an absorbent towel. Allow treated area to dry completely. If stain or odor remains, repeat the above procedure.
Sunny & Honey has created a video to demonstrate the process for carpet cleaning below:
The Stain & Odor Eliminator from Rocco & Roxie is another popular pick for cleaning cat urine stains. Unlike most of the other companies we’ve talked about so far, Rocco & Roxie is a pet product brand rather than soley focusing on cleaning. Their range also includes toys, treats, training and grooming products mostly for dogs.
The ingredient list includes enzymatic bacteria, soap surfactants and an “odor counteractant” which is most likely a fragrance. The bacteria consume the ammonia crystals and organic matter until the area is completely clean. In addition to pet urine stains, it’s touted to remove feces, vomit, and other organic materials, leaving a pleasant smell
Rocco & Roxie‘s Stain & Odor Eliminator is safe for use on carpets, rugs, pet bedding, litter boxes, travel crates, laundry, upholstery and more. It also has certification from the Carpet and Rug Institute.
As for usage directions, again it’s similar to previous products:
- Remove as much of the cat urine as possible with absorbent paper or cotten towels.
- Pour 4-6 ounces of warm water on the stain and then dry up the water. Repeat 2-3 times to dilute the urine.
- Wet the entire stained area with the product and leave for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Soak up the product with absorbent towel and allow to air dry.
- When dry, vacuum the area. If the stain remains, repeat the process.
The vast majority of people are happy with the results after using Rocco & Roxie‘s Stain & Odor Eliminator and if you are not, customer service is happy to advise. However, if you’re not satisfied, they do offer a moneyback guarantee.
If the cat peed on your clothing, bedsheets, a cushion or something else that you can throw into the washing machine, the easiest solution might be to wash it with a biological washing powder like Persil. They work in the same way as enzyme cleaners.
Other Things You Can Try
If your cat still keeps peeing in the wrong place after you’ve removed the urine stain and odor, make sure the litter tray is clean enough. Some cats will only use a spotless litter tray.
The cat may also dislike the the location of the litter box and has found an area he prefers to use as a toilet because of smell, texture or some other reason. You can use a type of litter that attracts cats to train them to use the litter box. Try moving it or putting several litter boxes around the home – hopefully he’ll find one he likes!
Alternatively, the cat might not like the litter box itself. Try removing the cover or getting one with low sides for easier access.
If your cat has suddenly started peeing in the wrong place despite usually using the litter tray or outdoors, this is a warning sign and you should bring him to the vet. It could signal a medical condition such as a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or inflammation causing pain and urgency to urinate. Kidney and liver diseases, nerve and muscle problems are also a possibility (source).