How to Get Rid of Cat Urine Odor in the House

Updated: February 27, 2024

"Once a cat marks an area, it is apt to become a repeat offender, returning to the same spot to pee over and over again."

How to get rid of cat urine odor in the house

Some things are incredibly hard to live with: insects, most mother-in-laws, and the stench of noxious cat urine. Which one is the worst? I'm not sure, it is a close race ;-)

Cat urine smell is hard to get rid of and almost impossible to completely mask. Whether your cat pees on your furniture, carpet, bed linens or clothes, it’s really important to neutralize the odor quickly for two reasons:

  1. Once a cat marks an area, it is apt to become a repeat offender, returning to the same spot to pee over and over again.
  2. You don’t want to become “those people” with the house no one wants to visit because they leave smelling like cat pee or have the smell of cat pee stuck in their nose!

Why Cat Pee Stinks

Cats are designed to be able to thrive and survive in a variety of different situations. Because of this, they have adapted to use water very efficiently. Their bodies will squeeze out every last ounce of moisture from their food so they do not have to drink as much water as other animals, such as dogs. This makes surviving in the wild, without always having easy access to a clean water supply, far easier. It also, however, makes their urine super concentrated and darker than most animals. This concentration makes cat urine particularly pungent. Not that you cat owners didn't already know that!

Male cat pee is even worse-smelling (What's new?) because their bodies produce powerful hormones and pheromones that they turn loose in their pee. Cat urine from non-neutered males has a high concentration of testosterone, signaling to any other Tom cats nearby to stay away!

Male cat pee also contains felinine, an amino acid that is basically a pheromone signal designed to attract the ladies (ow, ow!). It goes without saying then that the cat pee from non-neutered males, as well as un-spayed females, stinks far worse than cats that have been spayed and neutered. Something to think about.

Why Cats Urinate Outside of the Litter Box

Whether your cat is “fixed” or not, any cat is capable of peeing outside of the litter box. The question, then, to ask is, “why are they doing it?”

Many people think their cat is peeing where they shouldn’t to get back at them. But cats lack the human ego that is required to concoct such an unsubtle piece of revenge. Cats pee in inappropriate places in an effort to communicate something with their humans. It would be a lot easier if they could just talk, wouldn't it?

how do you get rid of smell of cat urine

The first thing they are usually trying to tell you is that something is medically or physically wrong with them. Peeing outside of the litter box can be a sign of urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and feline lower urinary tract disease.

If your cat suddenly starts peeing where he or she shouldn’t, you need to get them to the vet and checked out. Any of these health issues, if left untreated, can become very serious.

Older cats sometimes develop arthritis. This makes it very hard and painful for them to get into and out of the litter box if the sides are too tall, or if the box is placed somewhere that requires too much physical activity to get to, such as climbing stairs.

Finally, if you have ruled out all illnesses and physical disabilities, it’s time to consider whether there is a behavioral reason your cat is peeing where they shouldn’t. Cats don’t like change and can be easily stressed (can you say 'high maintenance?').

Do you have a new roommate? Have you moved to a new home? Did you bring in a new cat or dog? Are there new stray cats outside the window? Did you rearrange the furniture? Think of when the inappropriate peeing started and see if you can connect it to any recent event.

Feliway spray is great to keep cats calm and stress-free. Consider buying some plugins for around your home.

If you have multiple cats, you need to have multiple litter boxes. The general rule is one box for each cat and add one or two more for good measure. So, if you have three cats you should really have four or five boxes. You should also clean the litter box every day and always make sure you are adding fresh litter.

That’s another thing, did you recently change the litter? Cats have preferences, so if you did change the litter for some reason, consider changing it back.  If you didn’t change it, consider trying out different ones to see which your cat(s) prefer.

Cat Diapers for cat pee smell in house

It’s important to mention that not all physical or behavioral issues will be fixed instantly. In these instances, it’s a great idea to use diapers to keep your house clean and your sanity intact!

You may have heard of doggy diapers, but cats can wear diapers, too! Pet Parents® cat diapers come in a variety of colors as well as sizes, so you’re sure to get the proper fit for your little fur ball.

As a bonus, our diapers are 100% machine washable so you can reuse them as often as needed. We recommend washing with PetTergent®, detergent formulated for pet stains and soils. It is free of harsh chemicals, so you can be comfortable knowing your pet laundry routine is safe for your furbaby's sensitive skin.

How to Get Rid of Cat Urine Odor

Never let cat pee sit there for any length of time. As bad as cat pee smells when it first comes out of their little bodies, the stench will become worse the longer the urine sits there as it becomes more concentrated.

The key to having cats AND a nice-smelling home is to clean up any accidents as soon as possible. Not doing so is basically inviting your cats to mark the area over and over again.

Here are some steps to take to get rid of cat urine odor in your home:

  • Soak up the excess – did you find a big puddle on your hardwood floor or a wet spot on your carpet? Grab some paper towels and soak up the excess moisture. If the urine is already in the process of drying and crystalizing, pour or spray a little cold water on it to get most of it up. Never rub urine into fabric, always blot and dab, blot and dab!
  • Use an enzymatic cleaner – Many pet cleaning products contain natural enzymes that effectively break down the compounds in cat urine that create those lingering, unwanted odors. Follow the directions on the bottle, which will usually tell you to liberally spray the affected area, allow it to sit a few minutes to let the enzymes do their magic, and then wipe up with paper towels. If it’s a carpet or rug that has been peed on, you’ll want to vacuum after.
  • Repeat as necessary – If the odor is not eliminated your first go-around, continue these steps. If the smell continues, it may be there is a stain in the house that has dried, so you’re not seeing it. In this instance, use a portable black light (many pet stores sell them now) to locate the stain. Cat urine will show up as a yellow spot or splatter.

No one wants to live in a house that reeks of cat urine. If you follow these steps, you don't have to worry about being 'those people' -  your house should start smelling great in no time!

"Cat pee smells worse the longer the urine sits, as it becomes more concentrated."