Blast Away Pesky Cat Stains and Odors

If you’re an avid CAPS blog reader, you should know how serious we are about kitty litter (if you missed out, here’s the entry!). By taking the scoop regularly and sifting thoroughly, you’ll keep your home stink free and your feline friend purring in approval. But what happens when the problem goes beyond the precious, confined space of “the box?” Take a deep breath (of fresh air, that is) and worry not! To every smelly problem, there’s a fresh, cleaning solution.

Imagine this:

You’ve tried it all. The litter is clean, there are at least 10 candles burning, the windows are wide open, the fans (note the plural) are at full capacity, and you’ve bought at least 5 different bottles of Febreze and Glade. You think you’ve finally gotten rid of the smell until you come back from work and sniff the unmistakable odor lingering in the air as Princess Meow Meow rubs her stinky self all over your legs. You consider giving up and buying a lifetime supply of face-masks while keeping social interactions strictly outdoors and then you see it: a big, fat, wet stain smack in the middle of the living room carpet. You weren’t suffering from phantom ammonia attacks- the evidence was just drying up before you could bomb it with carpet cleaner. Now what?

Your friendly companion hasn’t been conspiring behind your back: there are multiple reasons for out-of-the-box accidents and just as many solutions. Your first odor-attack plan should be calling the vet to rule out a urinary tract infection, urine crystals, or other serious health problems. Regardless of the diagnosis, which we hope is just a disgruntled cat, you have to eventually come back home and face the stains. Here’s where we come to the rescue! Read the following tips so you can finally invite some friends over without the shame of compulsively grabbing the air freshener bottle:

  • Understand what you’re dealing with. Cat urine is a concentrated, amber-colored waste fluid excreted by the kidneys. The color and staining depends on diet, age, sex, medications, and overall health. Because feline diet is richer in protein than a dog’s diet, the urine has harsher odors. Also, the smell differs depending on whether the cat is simply relieving him/herself or marking territory (queens -females- are also territorial creatures).
  • Is your kitty spayed or neutered? Sterilizing your meowing buddy isn’t just about helping the world by making sure you aren’t contributing to the already out-of-control shelter population problem. Cats, especially “intact” toms (males), like their space- meaning they’re territorial and show dominance by marking spaces with their peculiar scent. Making an appointment for the quick and relatively inexpensive procedure diminishes specific hormones that lead to spraying and aggression. The earlier you act, the better: vets suggest scheduling an appointment from 8 weeks to 6 months of age.
  • Take a look at the litter box- are you cleaning it regularly? Cats are just like you- they like their toilets to be clean and stink-free. Purchasing UNSCENTED clumping litter, scooping daily, and replacing old litter with fresh litter on a weekly basis (you can stretch it out if you only have one cat) are some of the many things you can do to keep Little Miss (or Mister) Fur Ball from tinkling outside her (or his) bathroom. Also:
  1. If you have more than one cat, get more than one box. Sometimes cats like separate boxes for #1 and #2.
  2. Is the litter box located in an easy-to-access location? Is it far away from machinery and loud noises? Sometimes your companion might avoid using the litter because it’s either too far away or there’s a big, bad, and loud clothes dryer.
  3. Cats prefer open spaces. If you have a closed box, make sure it’s big enough for Fifi to stretch and dig.
  4. Don’t use bags or anything that’s scented (sprays, litter, you name it). Those are big feline turn-offs. Stick to baking soda if you need to eliminate unfriendly odors.
  • Go shopping. After researching online, CAPS decided the following items are must-haves:
  1. Baking soda
  2. White vinegar
  3. Paper towels or old rags
  4. Empty, spray bottle
  5. Bleach (READ WARNING)
  6. Dish soap
  7. Hydrogen Peroxide diluted 3% solution
  8. Puppy potty training pads: they’re super absorbent and great for those icky puddles!
  9. Apple cider vinegar (for laundry)
  10. Cheap, cleaning brush
  11. Black light: if the urine has dried up, it’ll smell but you won’t be able to spot it as easily. This trick will help you find the odor’s origin by making stains glow.
  12. Cat urine cleaner (available at pet supply stores): Simple Solution, Nature’s Miracle, Complete Pet Stain and Odor Remover by Eight in One, and Capture Pet Stain and Odor Neutralizer. These cleaners attack and feed on enzymes and bacteria found in urine, destroying the odor at its source.
  1. Blot out as much of the cat urine as possible.
  2. Mix 3 parts water with one part vinegar and saturate the spot. Blot (don’r rub!).
  3. Once dry, sprinkle with baking soda.
  4. Mix 2/4 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with one tsp. of dish detergent/soap and sprinkle over baking soda (test first to make sure you don’t end up with a discolored spot).
  5. Use a brush to work the mix in.
  6. Wait until dry and vacuum/brush off.
  • If you’re dealing with the sofa (or anything cushiony), don’t apply any solution directly (pour onto a clean cloth/paper towel) and use a hair dryer to ensure you don’t leave behind any moisture.
  • If the stain is fresh and hasn’t penetrated the fabric all the way through, just dampen the area and sprinkle baking soda. Rub the baking soda in, let it dry, and vacuum/brush off.
  • To make sure your kitty can’t smell residual urine and use the sofa as a toilet again, use an odor neutralizer that’ll get rid of the actual bacteria.
  • Still no results? Rent an extractor or wet-vac from a local hardware store. Basically they target the area with clean water and suck it back in when it’s dirty.
  • For cat urine on your laundry (the horror!), use ¼ apple cider vinegar and your regular laundry detergent and proceed as usual.
  • We recommend you stray from using bleach. White vinegar can be just as effective and less harmful when used correctly- just wash the soiled area, rinse and repeat if necessary. USE THE FOLLOWING ONLY IF THE SMELL IS PERSISTENT. You can use bleach to clean cement floors and bare walls. DO NOT USE BLEACH UNTIL YOU HAVE CLEANED OUT THE URINE. Ammonia and bleach do NOT mix well- when combined, they release chlorine gas which can be fatal to humans and animals. After you’ve cleaned the area with a product that DOES NOT CONTAIN AMMONIA OR BLEACH, proceed by mixing 10:1 water and bleach in a spray bottle (VERY DILUTED SOLUTION). Make sure you wash out any other cleaning products before spraying. Ventilate the room, wear gloves, avoid inhaling fumes, and make sure you don’t end up staining your own clothes. Wipe bleach off with a damp rag/paper towel.
  • Observe your cat. Sometimes simple changes can create distress in animals that depend on routine. If you brought home another pet, moved to a new place, changed food or litter brands, exchanged litter box locations, had new visitors, or changed schedules, Fifi might just be trying to tell you something. Take the necessary steps to reduce feline stress and dedicate more time to showing your love and affection.
  • Calling a professional animal behaviorist can help you understand Mr. Socks on a deeper level so you can help improve your cat’s mood and put an end to attitude problems.
  • NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR FRIEND! Don’t leave your loved kitten in the shelter: there’s always a solution. It might seem like the responsible thing to do, but these places (excluding no-kill shelters) have strict regulations that might lead to euthanasia. Many abandoned pets are victims of humans taking the easy way out.
  • Side note: Be vigilant! The sooner you find the soiled area, the better. Also, try testing products or solutions on small, hidden surfaces so you don’t end up discoloring the brand-new carpet.
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