Having a pet is one of life’s greatest joys, but your belongings can sustain damage from sharing your home with a cat. Many pet owners even become accustomed to the smell of their own home, and don’t notice the same scent that is offensive to their guests. If you’re a cat owner, it’s important to know how to get rid of urine stains and odors before they start to impact your personal life.
Before you can find the best way to remove stains and odors, you’ve got to know what kind of mess you’re dealing with. Is it on fabric or hard wood? Is it a new mess, or has it already dried? We’ll delve into each type of stain and how to best handle them.
The easiest mess to handle is one that is machine washable, so we’ll start there. Any sort of fabric, like clothing, sheets or pillowcases can be a target for your cat. If you find that your cat had an accident on your clothes or sheets a few days ago, put the dirtied items in a pile and cover them in baking soda. This will lift some odor by absorption.
Next, place the items in the washing machine following normal instructions. In addition to detergent, add two to four cups of white vinegar as well as a scoop of baking soda. Try to keep the load small, so that the items are fully agitated during the wash cycle. For good measure, follow-up with another rinse cycle, using water only. Repeat this cycle as necessary.
If you’ve found machine washable items that have been recently urinated on, follow the same instructions, but skip past the initial baking soda step, and right to the washing machine. The less time the items have to soak, the easier it will be to clean.
Unfortunately, we aren’t always so lucky as to have our cats pee on machine washable items. If you’re cleaning up a mess on carpet or upholstery, you’ll need to treat the stain by hand. Many cat owners swear by the power of white vinegar and baking soda. If the stain is old, start by sprinkling baking soda on the carpet. If the stain is new, use a clean paper towel to blot away as much of the excess urine as possible. Be careful not to rub it in any further!
Next, use a ratio of 3:1, water and white vinegar to saturate the soiled area. Again, use a clean and dry paper towel to blot of excess liquid. Once dry, sprinkle baking soda on top, then vacuum after about 15 minutes.
If this is not effective, or if you are one of many who are just as offended by the smell of vinegar as you are of cat urine, try an enzymatic cleaner. Rocco and Roxie Odor and Stain Remover is an affordable and increasingly popular product with pet owners. Like several other popular brands, it uses a particular bacteria to actually break down the ammonia crystals which cause odor. Whichever product you choose, be sure to read the instructions carefully!
If you are attempting to remove cat stains and odor from hardwood, the solution is not so easy. It is recommended that you stay away from chemical products for this, as the same compounds that often destroy the odors may also destroy wood. A more gentle solution is to spray a generous amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution onto the wood and immediately wipe it. Repeat daily until the problem is resolved. If the scent seems to be set deep into the wood, you may have to resort to sanding and resealing it.
Unfortunately, cat owners may experience the horror of smelling urine that they are unable to locate. In this case, you can unleash your inner CSI tech and use a blacklight to find the source of the foul odor. UV blacklight flashlights will help quickly resolve this problem, and can be purchased for as low as $10 on Amazon. Just use the flashlight in a dark room and look for a glowing area.
The best way to prevent the accidents and odor from coming right back is to understand why they’re happening in the first place. “Accidents” are typically not at all accidental, but are the result of a behavioral or medical issue that needs to be addressed.
If your cat is repeatedly urinating in the same area, especially after the addition of a new family member (human or animal), you are most likely experiencing territorial behavior. Also consider your litter box maintenance habits. If you have recently changed litter type or cleaning habits, your cat may respond negatively. Try reverting back to your last litter brand or cleaning the litter box more often.
If your cat is urinating in a variety of spots, you’ll want to get him to the vet as the cause may be health-related. Urinary tract infections are a common cause of urination outside of the litter box. Incontinence is also a possibility, especially as your cat gets older.
Hopefully, you do not need to use these tips very often, but when the time comes, use common sense. Make sure that any cleaning products you purchase are safe for your pets and other family members. Try your best to understand your cat’s motivation so that this cleaning process does not become ritual.
Written by Jonas Jurgella, Animal Communication Scientist and author of the Cat Language Bible – How to finally understand and speak wth your cat.