No magic solution exists that will completely eliminate cat odors in an instant, but proper cleaning with the right products can make the process go pretty quickly and have your home smelling fresh again. Proper cleaning can significantly cut down or completely eliminate odors, depending on the severity of your problem.
Eliminating New Odors
If you've caught your cat in the act of peeing on your floor or have just found a fresh puddle, you need to clean it up immediately. The way you clean the mess up can have a big effect on whether or not the odor sticks around after the puddle is gone.
- Place a layer of paper towels on top of the wet spot and then put a layer of newspaper on top of the paper towels. If you can access the area under the urine (for example, if your cat has peed on an area rug) place more paper towels and newspaper underneath the affected area.
- Stand on the paper towels or otherwise apply pressure for several minutes. Do not rub or scrub the area. Your goal is to absorb as much of the fluid as possible.
- Remove soiled paper towels and newspaper. Replace them with fresh, and repeat this process until you have absorbed as much of the urine as possible.
- Rinse the area completely with clean water. Blot it dry using paper towels.
- Use an enzyme cleaner to neutralize any remaining odor. Enzyme cleaners can be purchased in any pet store or you can make your own by mixing one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water. If you use a commercial enzyme cleaner, follow the instructions on the label. If you use the homemade cleaner, dampen the affected area with the cleaner and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Blot up any remaining fluid.
Eliminating Old Odors
If your cat hasn't recently eliminated in your home but you can still smell a lingering odor, you have a little bit more of a project on your hands.
First you need to find the problem areas in your home. You can use your nose to sniff out any areas that smell like cat urine. You can also use a black light to locate old pet stains. When you turn off your regular lights and go over your rooms with a black light, questionable areas will glow. If you sniff those areas and determine they smell like cat urine, you need to mark them with chalk so that you'll be able to find them again after you turn the lights back on.
If you have used a steam cleaner or other cleaning method that uses heat to clean up pet stains, then the odor and stain will be more difficult to get rid of. Heat can cause pet odors and stains to set into carpets and upholstery.
Once you have found your problem areas, return to steps 4 and 5 of the previous section. Note that it may take you several cleaning attempts before you get an old, set stain to completely lift.
Odors that have absorbed deep into surfaces can be almost impossible to get rid of without getting rid of the entire item. This means that if your cat's urine has sunk deep into the padding of your upholstered furniture or carpeting, you may not be able to get rid of the smell unless you get rid of the padding or fabric item as well. If your cat has peed on walls, baseboards or flooring and left behind a discolored stain, you may need to completely remove the paint or varnish on that area and then reapply a new layer to get rid of the stain and accompanying odor.
Litter Box Odors
If your cat's litter box itself is responsible for the odor, chances are high that you just aren't cleaning it often enough or thoroughly enough. Scoop the feces out of your cat's litter box on a daily, or twice-daily, basis. The Humane Society of the United States recommends completely cleaning out the litter box and replacing all the litter twice a week if you use clay litter. Clumping litter should be completely changed once every two to three weeks. The number of times you need to fully clean out your litter box each week may increase or decrease depending on your personal preferences as well as how many cats you own, how many litter boxes you have and the exact type of litter you use.
To clean your litter box:
- Completely empty the litter out of the box and deposit it into a trash can. Use the outside trash can if you want to avoid odors inside.
- Use your litter box scooper to scrape any leftover litter or feces off the sides of the litter box.
- Wash the litter box using warm water and mild soap, dish detergent or baking soda.
- Dry the litter box.
- Refill the litter box with 2 to 3 inches of fresh litter.
You can use scented litter if you prefer the smell of it to traditional litter. Scented kitty litter can help cover cat odors.
Always wear protective clothing, including gloves, while cleaning up cat messes and cat litter boxes. Cat feces can transmit an assortment of illness-causing bacteria that you do not want to come into direct contact with.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Litter Box Problems
- Pam Johnson-Bennett: How to Clean Cat Urine Stains and Odors
- Animal Planet: 10 Tips for Cleaning Cat Urine
- Precious Pets: Using a Blacklight to Find Cat and Dog Urine Odor Spots
- Humane Society of the United States: How to Remove Pet Stains and Odors
- Mercola: What’s that Smell? Cleaning Up After Pet Accidents
- Animal Planet: How to Safely Clean a Cat’s Litter Box
- Humane Society of the United States:Preventing Litter Box Problems