Step inside your mom’s home only to be greeted with the overpowering smell of litter box? Cat odor is incredibly powerful and if left unchecked will take over the house entirely. This time on the BIOClean Team blog, cat odor remedies, when they will work and what to do when they don’t!
Cat Urine – Why is it so Powerful?
Cat urine is made up of some intense stuff! The big component is uric acid. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down certain compounds including those found in some food and drink. When a cat urinates on something that uric acid coats it and crystalizes. While simpler methods (such as using soap or vinegar) might break down the crystals and bring odor relief temporarily, humidity can cause the uric acid to recrystallize, bringing the smell right back. Another piece is that as urine sits the bacterium that is alive inside the urine will breakdown giving off an ammonia-like smell. As the urine continues to breakdown it then gives off mercaptans, a compound similar to what gives skunks their potent punch.
It’s not so much that cat urine is powerful (though it is) as much as it is durable. You need to take it a step further to break it down and remove the smell entirely!
Huge Warning! Avoid Products that Use Ammonia!
Since ammonia is one of the components of cat urine, if you use an ammonia-based product it will very likely cause your cat to come back and mark the spot further, as they think it’s either okay to go there or perhaps another cat has marked it. Further, ammonia and chemical cleaners will often set the stain, the complete opposite of what we are looking to do!
Ok with that out of the way, let’s talk about what works!
Cat Odor Remedies
Several products can help neutralize cat pee odor, including vinegar or baking soda but you’ll want to go even further with an enzyme cleaner to really do the trick!
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Vinegar is a classic option for cleaning around the house. It’s a bit smelly itself, but vinegar is an acid that neutralizes the compounds in dried urine. Use one part water to one part vinegar and you can clean hard surfaces. After the vinegar smell subsides the urine smell should go with it.
For softer, porous surfaces you need to step it up a notch. Carpets, couches, cushions, mattresses, and linens, will need something to work its way into the material and break down the uric acid. Enzyme based cleaners use natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria to breakdown the uric acid and bacterium, and the smell with it.
It’s important that any cleaning you attempt goes past just removing the smell for you. The smell may still linger for your cat and if it does, you may find your cat going in the same spot as before.
Once you’ve used a cleaner of your choice and really worked it out, think about using a wet vac to rinse out the cleaner and waste from the carpet. Don’t use a steam cleaner however, the heat needed for steam cleaning will set the stain, which is the exact opposite of what you’re looking for!
If you are dealing with a truly difficult and stubborn scenario, perhaps a hoarder situation and the cat urine has been left too long – it may be too late for a simple remedy. Cat urine is powerful, it can break down concrete if left unchecked for too long! In some cases, the only recourse is to tear up the carpet and padding and start fresh. In these instances, it would serve you well to hire professionals to come remediate the home.