There are lots of things in the world that smell bad, but few of them seem to have the staying power of cat urine. Whether your cat has an accident outside the litter box, or you've moved into a new home with a smelly secret, you'll want to get the stench out as fast as you can. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to remove the urine smell.
Why It's Awful
People often wonder why cat pee smells so much worse than that of other animals. One answer is urea. Urea is the part of urine that contains waste products the body couldn't use. Everything that urinates creates urea, including you.
Cat urea smells worse than that of other animals because it's extremely concentrated. Cats are native to the desert, so their bodies don't waste water. They hang on to as much of this precious resource as they can, expelling lots of urea but little water when they urinate.
Male cat urine smells worse than that of females, and that's because male urine has a job to do. Males use urine to mark their territory and fend off other cats, secreting lots of hormones in the process. Mother Nature makes these hormones difficult to wash away, so they last longer, essentially allowing male cats to label their territory with a permanent marker rather than an erasable one.
Soak It Up Quickly
Catching cat urine when it is fresh is ideal. If you see the pee happen, quickly grab an absorbent cloth or towel and soak it up right away. Lay the towel over the urine and push it into the puddle or wet spot. If you can get rid of the urine before it dries, no foul odors will remain.
Vinegar and Water Cleanser
Unfortunately, you may not discover the cat urine until long after the deed is done, and the area has dried. If so, mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Use the solution to wipe down walls and hard floors that smell of urine. For carpets, furniture and other soft materials, wet the area with the vinegar solution and then sop it back up with a clean towel.
Repeat the dampening and sopping up process several times and then allow the fabric to finish drying naturally. As the area dries, both the vinegar and urine smell will dissipate.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Cat Urine
If vinegar and water aren't doing the trick, hydrogen peroxide is the next step. To use it, simply pour hydrogen peroxide on the stain and let it sit for at least five minutes. When the time is up, dab the area with a clean towel to soak up the hydrogen peroxide.
Note that hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent that could discolor some fabrics. Always test the solution in an inconspicuous spot before pouring it all over any fabric. The darker the material, the higher the risk of discoloration.
Try Using Baking Soda
Baking soda is a terrific deodorizer, and it's easy to use. To pull the cat urine smell from mattresses, carpets and upholstery, simply sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the stain and let it sit. After 15 to 30 minutes, vacuum up the baking soda. Always make sure the area is completely dry, however, or your baking soda will turn into a clumpy mess that's hard to vacuum up.
Buy an Enzymatic Cleanser
Enzyme cleaners aren't a home remedy, but they're still worth consideration. Sold in pet stores, these enzyme-cleaning solutions are powerful cat urine cleaners. They contain good bacteria that kill bad, smelly bacteria while the solution breaks down the acid in the urine. They've proven themselves extremely effective and can eliminate a cat urine smell even when other cleaning methods fail.
Always Avoid Ammonia
Whatever cleanser you reach for to remove cat urine, never use ammonia to clean the stain. Cat urine contains ammonia already, which is part of the reason for its odor. If you clean the area with more ammonia, you'll fail to eliminate the urine smell. You'll also inadvertently encourage your cat to pee in that spot again and again.