What Can I Give My Cat for a Very Strong Urine Smell?

Updated: July 12, 2022

What Does Cat Pee Smell Like?

Our cats’ urine smells of ammonia in many cases. Ammonia in cat urine smells somewhat disgusting, unpleasant and lasts for quite some time. As a pet parent of a cat, you probably worry about how strong their urine smell is. Why does cat pee smell so bad? Is it normal? Or should you be worried? Let's find out!

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"When urea is broken down, it produces amines that will break down further into mercaptans (also found in feces of other animals and skunk spray). Now this is why your cat's urine smells like ammonia."

Composition of Cat Urine

Why does cat pee smell so bad? Cat urine is made up of different chemicals like uric acid, creatinine, electrolytes, and urea. When urea is broken down, it produces amines that will break down further into mercaptans (also found in the poop of other animals and skunk spray). Now this is why your cat's urine smells like ammonia. To make it even simpler to understand, ammonia is created by the bacterial decomposition of urea, the primary component of urine.

According to Pet Health Network, a normal cat urine odor for an adult cat who has been spayed or neutered, chances are your furbaby's urine smell isn’t too strong. Normal urine will have a slightly pungent, acidic scent that is fairly inoffensive and generally weak.

However, if you noticed your cat’s urine has a very strong odor that already stings the nose, there is a probability that your furbaby might be onto something that requires veterinary attention.

cat pee smells like ammonia

What Could Cause This Strong Urine Smell in Cats

What does cat pee smell like? It is quite common that cat pee smells like ammonia. But, why does cat pee smell so bad? Aside from ammonia smell that’s naturally occurring in your furbaby's urine, there are a lot of other factors why your cat has a foul-smelling urine. It can be because of:

Dehydration. Most cats are not really a fan of drinking water and not drinking enough water can cause dehydration.

If your cat doesn't drink water that much, their urine gets more concentrated and concentrated urine has a stronger ammonia smell.

Diet. Your cat's diet can also be the cause of strong ammonia smell in your cat's urine. Most pet parents feed their cats cat foods that have chicken-based proteins. These proteins produce urea (as mentioned above) and cause a strong urine smell.

Stress. Bear in mind that stress will also cause your cat's urine to smell so strongly (though indirectly). As your cat experiences stress and anxiety, this will cause some behavioral changes that include urine spraying in areas in your house. Cat spray's strong-smelling urine stays for a long time and can even be smelled some feet away for a couple of hours!

Urinary tract infection. A more serious cause of strong urine smell is urinary infection. Sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by the response of the body to infection, causes your cat's urine to smell strong.

Note: If your cat has a sweet-smelling urine instead, it can be a sign of diabetes

Unchanged litter. If you fail to change your cat's litter, ammonia gets concentrated. The litter may look clean but your cat's urine has seeped deep into the litter. This causes a strong urine smell in your litter box.

What To Do for Your Cat's Strong Urine Smell

Whole house smells like cat urine? Worry not. There are actually a couple of things you can do and give your cat for that strong urine smell.

Locate the urine. If your whole house smells like cat urine, it is likely that there is uncleaned urine hiding. Locating where the urine is outside the litter box, according to McGill Office for Science and Society, is the first step to solving the problem. This is effortlessly done if you have stepped barefoot into a puddle or if the urine has already stained your floor or discolored your carpet. If you cannot spot your furbaby’s urine, ultraviolet stain detector light will make it glow. Locating where the strong urine smell is coming from will help you manage the situation more efficiently.

Clean using enzymatic cleaners. Once you have located where the smell is coming from, clean it. And clean it well. When cleaning your furbaby’s mess, make sure you are using enzymatic cleaners. Enzymatic cleaners release active enzymes that feed on ammonia residue left behind in your cat’s urine and other organic materials. Enzymatic cleaners are best used in removing urine stains and odors.

Make sure your cat drinks water. Offer your cat fresh and clean water all the time. If she doesn't like to drink water from her water bowl, allow her to drink running water. Your cat loves the feel of running water on her tongue.

Change the litter at least every week. Since your cat's urine in the litter box will seep deep into the litter. Unchanged and dirty litter will become a breeding ground for bacteria and may possibly lead to urinary tract infections.

In keeping your litter box clean, according to The Humane Society of the United States, you should scoop feces out of the litter box daily, as in every day. How often you actually replace the litter depends on the number of cats using the litter box (General Rule of Paw: One litter box for each cat at home, plus one more), the number of litter boxes your cat has, and the type of litter you use. Twice a week is a general guideline for replacing clay litter, but depending on the set of conditions mentioned, you may need to replace it every other day or just once every week.

Another effective way to prevent litter boxes from giving off a strong urine smell is by placing washable pads underneath. These washable pads, like the Pet Parents® Pawtect® Pads, can serve as litter box beddings and catch any misses made by your furbaby. These are thoughtfully made with a proprietary fabric blend that locks in your cat’s “missed” pee fast and helps prevent it from being tracked all over your house.

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Check your cat's diet. Your cat's current diet may contain proteins that are chicken-based. Feed your cat foods that are salmon-based sometimes to avoid strong urine smell. A combination of different proteins in their diet will lessen the strong ammonia odor.

Identify stressors. Since stress can also cause very strong urine smell, identify the things that stress out your cat and slowly address them. Is it a change in their daily routine? Loud noises? Your house guests? A new pet at home? That stray cat  hanging around outside?

Keep in mind to never punish or add to the stress of a stressed cat. This will only increase your furbaby's fear and anxiety, leading to greater problems. Remain calm when your cat sprays or creates accidents at home and make them feel you only want what’s best for them. We know it can be frustrating when your cat, who knows where their litter box is and how to use it, is instead peeing on furniture or floors. But, instead of lashing out your cat for inappropriately spraying on the legs of your dining table, or peeing on your living room carpet, just think about having them wear cat diapers for it to be a win-win situation for the both of you.

Consult your vet. A visit to your veterinarian will properly diagnose and help you rule out the actual cause of why your cat has a very strong urine smell. Urinary tract problems and infections can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Washable pee pads and cat diapers. Prevention, prevention, prevention. If your whole house smells like cat urine and you can't seem to get your cats to pee in the litter box, you can use some alternatives. Before your cat goes around leaving a very strong urine smell in your house, prevent it from happening by letting them wear cat diapers from Pet Parents®. These cat diapers are made from WickQuick® proprietary fabric that absorbs liquid faster than other options in the market.

Washable pads are also a great help! Washable pee pads, like Pet Parents® Pawtect® Pads, can be placed under litter boxes to catch any “misses”, while its odor-eliminating property removes or lightens any unpleasant smell; becoming the ultimate lifesaver! If you have ever cleaned up a leak from the litter box, you know prevention is much easier and less messy.

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"Pet Parents® Pawtect® Pads are washable pads that can serve as litter box beddings and catch any misses made by your furbaby."

What does cat pee smell like? Well, in most cases it’s true that cat pee smells like ammonia. Make sure you identify what causes your cat's urine to smell strong and address it. Nobody wants an unpleasant ammonia smell in the house! Address it and keep your cat and other family members happy and healthy!