Cute. Cuddly. Sassy.
These are all words we like to associate with our favorite felines.
Words that even the most avid cat lover hopes to avoid? Cat pee. Especially if it is on the carpet.
Any pet stains can spell trouble for homeowners, but cat urine is especially potent and difficult to get rid of completely.
This complete guide covers the ins and outs of all things cat pee. Specifically, we will address what is causing your cat to ignore their litter box, what makes this liquid wonder so difficult to get rid of and how to get cat pee out of your carpet.
A Force to Be Reckoned With
While many of us have heard of uric acid, according to The Cat Site, there are actually a few major ingredients fighting against you for your carpet's dignity:
- Uric Acid
- Other electrolytes
- Bacteria – typically 5 different strains.
Why does this ingredient list matter so much? Because in order to treat and get rid of the cat pee smell for good, you need to combat each of them.
You may have the ability to treat the uric acid, but as stains set, the decomposition process kicks in. Bacteria eat away at the urea to produce that odious ammonia scent while the next stage emits mercaptans, compounds that are also present in skunk spray. (Lovely, right?)
And when you add in the age and gender of your cat, you have a ripe cat urine smell that can last for an ungodly amount of time.
But what makes cat pee so intensely miserable? Even if you have the best of intentions and get to work on your stained area right away, traditional household cleaners can actually set the stain, making it even more difficult for the right cleaner to do its job.
It's a perfect cat urine stain storm.
So what are you to do with carpeting that has been exposed to this potent spray?
We'll get to that in a minute.
First, let's talk about why your cat is missing the litter box and soiling your carpet.
Why the Pee?
Is your cat avoiding the litter box in an act of defiant rebellion? It’s funny to think so. (Cats will be cats, after all.)
But before you chalk this unpleasant behavior up to blatant disrespect, let's go over some of the more common reasons why your cat might be making your upholstery and carpet a new potty ground.
If your cat has been a religious litter box user and has only recently begun to pee all over the house, you should consider a visit to the vet. One of the most common reasons litter box-trained cats will stop using it is because there is an underlying medical issue. The exact problem can range, but some of the most common culprits are listed below.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) can be hard to detect in cats. And left untreated, a simple bladder infection can easily spread to the kidneys and cause serious problems. Since most of us aren't fluent in cat-anese, your kitty may be telling you something is wrong by peeing outside of their box.
We hate the guessing game of wondering if it is worth a vet visit every.single.time your cat has an accident. What if it wasn't a bladder infection before, but it is now?
It's moments like that which make Pretty Litter worth its weight in gold.
Pretty Litter is a kitty litter designed to help notify you of changes in your cat's health. Specifically, it will tell you if your cat's urine is alkaline (could be stones), acidic (could be metabolic or kidney) or if there is blood in the urine.
While it doesn't rule out a visit to the vet, it can help determine what on earth is going on.
Cats with arthritis may avoid kitty litter because it is painful. It's painful to get into the litter box, painful to walk on litter and painful to get out. This is an especially prominent cause for many older cats who suddenly stop using their box.
Another hopefully not-so-common culprit of pain is declawing. Most vets won't declaw cats anymore because of the irreversible damage it does to their joints. (Imagine having your fingers cut off at your top knuckle, simply because your nails are too long.) Not only has declawing cats led to a rise in behavioral problems, but it can also make it painful to walk on litter.
If you've ruled out underlying illness or pain and you are still having problems, it could be stress-related. Did you get a new pet? Are you away from home a lot? Do your kids love just a little too hard?
If so, more intentional affection and support may help relieve your kitty's stress and messes. Giving them their own, quiet place to retreat to is a great option for stressed out cats.
Another thing that causes stress? Forgotten litter box etiquette. Litter boxes should be kept clean and be big enough for your cat. If your cat is big-boned, maybe the hood of your litter box needs to come off. (It's a real thing, y'all.)
If you have multiple cats, stressors surrounding the litter box can usually be remedied by adding another box.
How To Get Cat Pee Out of the Carpet
Okay, now that we know a little more about why cats pee all over the house, let's talk about how to navigate through your carpet cleaning journey.
First, you'll want to start off by blotting the affected area with a clean cloth or some paper towels.
It's also recommended to rinse the stained area with clean water and either let it air dry or vacuum it up with a wet vac. Temperature is important here, so you will want to stick with cold water rather than something warm.
Pro tip: Never use a steam cleaner on a urine stain as it will just cause the stain to settle deep into the carpet fibers.
Once you have gotten the liquid up again, your stain is ready for an enzyme cleaner. But it's at this step that you will have to make some choices. You get to decide if you want to use a DIY cleaner or use a cleaner made specifically for pet urine. We'll cover both methods.
The Home Remedy Carpet Cleaner
Now that you’ve blotted and rinsed the stain, you’re ready for your enzymes.
Say what you will about home remedies, but they can be great when it comes to cleaning mold, sprucing up glass and fighting acne.
What I have yet to see? An awesome homemade cleaning solution that not only acts as a stain remover but actually dissolves those putrid cat urine odors once and for all.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. If you are set to have a go at a homemade option or are in a pickle and need something stat, here are two recipes for making your own pet-friendly enzyme cleaner.
The Hydrogen Peroxide Method
What You'll Need:
1/4 c hydrogen peroxide
1 tsp. dish soap
Cover the soiled area with baking soda.
Next, you will want to mix your peroxide and dish soap in your spray bottle and spray over the baking soda.
Work the mixture into the carpet with a cloth or an old toothbrush if you want a deep clean.
Let it dry completely and vacuum the area.
The Vinegar Solution
This next method was shared with us by Natalie Barrett — a carpet repair expert and cleaning professional at Nifty Carpet Repair — who takes our original recipe a bit further.
Once you’ve blotted the original urine stain, sprinkle your spot completely with baking soda and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Next, you will want to apply vinegar on top of the baking soda and give it time to fizz for a bit. Then, use a rag to blot out the liquid.
Barrett adds, “The pee is now gone, but chances are there’s still a bit of a scent.” At this point, she recommends adding some hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and the optional essential oils. Scrub it in and let dry.
Expert Tip: “What most people don’t know is that even if the carpet seems dry, the urine will recrystallize. After a day, it’s recommended to apply an enzyme cleaner over the area.”
The Professional-Grade Options
The flip side of the carpet cleaning coin is the store-bought options. If you go with Nifty Service’s recommendations, you will still need an enzyme cleaner. Or, you might find that using some products designed specifically for pet urine can save you a ton of time from the beginning, especially if you are buying from a brand that makes trusted products.
One of our go-to places for quality pet supplies is Nature's Miracle. This company uses natural cleaning products that actually work at getting rid of pet odor and stains.
If you have a pet, you will want to keep at least one of their cleaners on hand at all times.
Pro tip: These cleaners are also a tremendous help at getting you through the potty training season.
Although there are several to choose from, here are two dedicated specifically to fighting those stubborn cat pee stains.
There's something about foam that just screams deep cleaning. And this spray makes it easy to see why. Designed to penetrate into those deep, hard-to-reach spots, this cleaner also acts as a deodorizer to help your carpet bounce back.
It’s also super easy to use. Simply blot, spray and wait. But if you find yourself with some stubborn stains, you may need to apply a second coat and rub it in a bit.
Drawbacks: This foam spray is not to be used on specialty materials such as hardwood, leather, suede, wool or silk.
Another enzymatic cleaner from Nature's Miracle, this Urine Destroyer is safe to use on just about any household surface: carpets, hard floors, furniture, fabrics and more.
It also gets points for being super easy to use. Just apply to the stain, wait 10 minutes and blot.
Some drawbacks? Users have noted a pretty powerful smell to this product.
It does pose the question, did you expect anything less from a cleaner with the word "destroyer" in the title?
For another non-toxic option, Jess Miller with Good Cat Behavior also recommends Biokleen’s Bac-Out Stain and Odor Remover. “This product uses live enzyme cultures, citrus extracts and plant-based surfactants to clean up pet messes.”
If the destroyer was a little too intense for your liking, this is a great alternative.
How to Prevent Future Peeing
If you pinpoint and remedy the reason your cat is peeing in the first place, future accidents should take care of themselves.
If you find that your cat is spraying more than urinating, you may need to take a few extra steps to keep your cat from relieving himself in unfortunate locations.
A simple way to decrease your cat’s desire to spray? Close the blinds for a while. If your kitty is eyeing another cat lingering around outside, he may be more inclined to leave his scent throughout the house. Cutting off the visual may help.
You may also consider a deterrent, like this one from Nature’s Miracle.
If you prefer a super clean option (it has the potential to be all over your house, after all), here is an organic deterrent. Reviewers have either loved or hated this product. But if there’s the possibility of stopping a cat from spraying with an option that won’t get anyone sick that’s under $15, we think it’s worth a shot.
A Little More Love, A Little Less Mess
There are several reasons why your otherwise box-trained cat began to mess in the house. The first thing you should always rule out is some kind of health or medical condition that your cat may be trying to tell you about.
These kinds of diagnostics should be done by your local vet, who may be able to also provide some insights on your specific situation.
If your cat is healthy, changing your litter box, where it’s placed or the litter inside can all help remedy the problem.
And if you find your cat is trying to mark his territory, a deterrent spray is a good option.
In the meantime, stock up on your hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar and enzyme cleaners and remember that this too shall pass.
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