Overall, hardwood floors are fairly durable and easy to maintain, but cat urine is a still a formidable opponent for any surface. Whether yours are the popular oak or maple floors or you have a pricier wood like teak or black walnut, you’ll need to use some care to get the stubborn cat pee smell and stain out without damaging the floor. Continue reading
So a lot of cat caretakers are left wondering why is cat urine so strong and stubborn. It’s a good question because knowing the answer will help you understand what it takes to get rid of that pungent odor permanently. Continue reading
Few things are worse than walking into your bedroom ready to snuggle up in your fresh, spring-sunshine-scented sheets only to find a big, yellow wet spot waiting for you. Not only do you have to pull off the wet sheets and throw them in the laundry, you may even have to clean the mattress.
If this happens too often, you’ll end up with a lingering cat pee odor on the bed, which is as unhealthy as it is unpleasant. A cat peeing on the bed isn’t an uncommon situation and there are usually clear reasons for it which can be managed so don’t you have to deal with those nasty messes anymore.
Potential Cause #1: Urinary Tract Problems
Lots of things that can go wrong with a cat’s lower urinary tract. Urinary tract conditions are one of the most common health problems in cats and, not surprisingly, one of the most common reasons cats are brought to the vet.
Collectively, these issues are known as feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD. This term encompasses disorders or diseases that affect the lower urinary tract (bladder or urethra) and includes feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), bladder stones or crystals, and bladder infections. A true urinary tract infection of the kind humans get is possibly, but these are relatively rare in cats and are more common in cats over age 10.
All of these conditions cause pain when the cat tries to urinate. The cat starts to associate that pain with the litter box. In attempt the relieve the pain, she looks for some softer, squishier alternative to the litter box’s scratchy sand. That place is very often a bed.
That means if your cat is peeing on the bed when she’s never done so before, it’s time for a call to the vet as soon as possible. If your male cat is straining to urinate, call immediately because this could be a potentially fatal situation.
Chances are you’ll need to bring her in for examination, but keep in mind it could be critical to your cat’s health and well-being. And you can take some comfort in the fact that it’s still cheaper than having to constantly wash (and replace) your sheets and eventually replace the mattress.
Potential Cause #2: Separation Anxiety
Despite their reputation for being aloof and their highly refined skills at ignoring us, cats actually do get quite emotionally attached to the people and other animals in the household. When one of those household members isn’t around as often as usual, the cat quite naturally misses them.
In attempt to get close to them, she seeks out things that smell like the person she miss. And few things carry a person’s scent like their bed and clothes. The cat wets on the bed or clothes in attempt to mix her scent with the “missing” person’s to create a sense of closeness. And now you have a cat who’s peeing on the bed.
Keep in mind, separation anxiety can happen due to situations that you might not even notice. It doesn’t only happen when the cat’s favorite person leaves the household for days. Other potential causes are:
- A change in your schedule (eg. coming home later)
- Decreased attention (Maybe you’ve been busy and distracted)
- A change in who feeds and cleans up after the cat
Essentially, once your vet has ruled out health problems, consider any reason the cat might feel separated from the person whose bed she’s been wetting on. If it’s not possible for that person to spend more time with the cat, give the cat something else that smells like them. An old t-shirt they’ve slept in for several nights in a row is a good choice. The cat might pee on that item, too, so when you first give it to that cat, place it on plastic or an easily washable surface.
If your cat has has already left a few wet surprises around the house, there are ways to get rid of the odor and get your cat back to using the litter box normally again. In Cat Urine Problems Eliminated, I’ve covered 11 different reasons your cat might have urination issues, given guidelines for solving these issues, and including both homemade and store-bought solutions for getting rid of those nasty lingering odors.
Tips on playing with your cat might seem out of place on a site about preventing litter box problems, but there is a clear connection. Just like in dogs and for that matter, people, boredom can lead to behavior problems.
Keeping your cat busy helps reduce the risk not only of inappropriate urination, but also furniture scratching, nighttime trouble-making, excessive meowing, and even aggression.
First things first, though: if your cat is exhibiting any unusual or problematic behavior, she could have a health problem. Consult your vet and make sure your cat is healthy before you look for other causes.
Why Cats Need Play
Cats are bright, energetic creatures. They have the intelligence of a 2-year-old child and can sprint at up to 30 miles an hour. For as much as they nap, they’re not designed to laze around all day staring out the window.
When they don’t have an outlet for their curiosity and energy, they become bored. Chronic boredom causes stress, and a stressed cat is highly likely to have behavior problems.
Playing with your cat not only helps her burn off energy, it also helps strengthen your cat’s emotional bond with you. She’ll feel more secure and be less likely to misbehave. For this reason alone, it’s a good idea to play with your cat, rather than just toss her a few toys and walk away.
How Often and When to Play
Try to have a minimum of two 15-minute play sessions with your cat every day. You might have one in the morning before you leave for work and another when you get home. Of course, this depends on your cat, too. Trying to make her play when she’s not in the mood will just stress her out.
If you can, have one a little before bedtime, too. Remember, cats are hunters. In nature, they expend energy chasing down and catching their food, then eat what they caught, then take a nap. You can use this pattern to your advantage by leaving the last meal of the day before your own bedtime. Have a brisk play session before the meal, then feed your cat and chances are she’ll go to sleep when you do.
How to Choose Your Cat Toys
Visit any pet supply shop, especially online, and you’ll find a seemingly endless assortment of cat toys. The reason there are so many is that different cats like different types of toys. To get an idea of which ones will go over best with your cat, pay attention to how your cat likes to play. Does she like to chase things? Bat things around? Watch things?
You don’t necessarily have to spend money on toys, either. A little googling will turn up plenty of ideas for safe, homemade cat toys that cost little or nothing.
You’ll need two basic types of toys. Those you pull, dangle or otherwise move around for your cat to play with and those your cat can play with by herself. Some of the latter, such as electronic toys, will need your supervision. The rest should be things your cat can enjoy while you’re not around.
Here are a few possibilities just to give you some ideas:
Toys for Two
- Laser pointer
- Wand toys
- Thing in a Bag by Happy Dog Toys
- Electronic crawling toys
Toys for Solo Play
- Paper bags and cardboard boxes
- Single toys like catnip mice, squeaky toys, and wool or plastic balls
- Interactive scratching post/play center
- Ball-in-ring (a ball semi-enclosed in a plastic ring)
- Pop-up tunnel
- SmartCat Peek-a-Prize Toy Box
Like kids, cats will get bored with any toy, no matter how much they loved it when they first got it. To avoid this problem, rotate the toys regularly. Divide the toys into two or three groups and put one group away for two weeks at a time.
Catnip toys eventually go stale and should be replaced. If you have a cat who goes crazy for catnip, use catnip as a rare treat no more than every two weeks. There’s some, largely anecdotal, evidence offering it too often will get you a cat who begs you for ‘nip.
A Few More Tips
For safety reasons, all toys should be durable and free of small parts your cat could swallow and choke on. Never leave your cat alone with toys that have long strings, such as cat dancer fishing-pole type toys. The cat could become tangled in the strong. As a guideline, if you wouldn’t leave a 2-year-old child alone with the toy, don’t leave your cat with it.
If you use treat-dispensing toys, wash them after eat use and take care not to overfeed using the toy.
Anything you use as a toy your cat will continue to think of as a toy. This is why it’s a very bad idea to use your hand as a toy. If you do, your cat is likely to attack your hand sometime when you least expect.
When Macho was a kitten, I used handkerchiefs as toys for him. Then as an adult, he would routinely hunt down handkerchiefs in the cupboards and drag them out to play with. He didn’t do this with any other article of clothing. He’d just learned to think of handkerchiefs specifically as toys.
For other ways to keep your cat happy and check out Cat Urine Problems Eliminated
Or at least, they have the potential to be effective when you use them right. The problem is using these cleaners is a little bit tricky.
Why Your Enzyme Cleaner Might not Work
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pouring the cleaner onto the cat urine stain and waiting for it to do its thing. That’s because enzyme cleaners rely on natural, biological processes that are sensitive to a lot of different factors. If anything interferes with the biological process, the cleaner won’t work and you’ll be left with that lovely kitty piddle stain and smell.
Enzymes are biological molecules (most often proteins) that speed up a biological reaction. Usually, they break things down. The enzyme rennin, also called “rennet,” is what turns milk into cheese. The enzymes alpha-amylase and beta-amylase, among others, are used to brew beer. Human stomachs also produce many enzymes that allow us to digest food.
In cat urine cleaning products, you’ll find enzymes that break down uric acid (the stuff that makes the stain and odor stick around) into carbon dioxide and ammonia. These byproducts evaporate and –voila! — a clean carpet, sofa or other surface.
But when you’re using enzymes to clean cat urine, there are two things you need to know:
- Each enzyme has a very specific function. Just like you can’t use rennet to make beer, you can’t use just any old enzyme to break down cat urine stains.
- Enzymes are highly sensitive to their environment. The wrong temperature, moisture level or pH level, or the presence of certain chemicals can prevent them from working.
How Get the Most Out of Your Enzyme Cleaner
Look for a product with a label that specifically states it works on cat urine. Products formulated for grass stains on clothes or even for dog urine might not work. They might, but your chances are better if you choose one that mentions cat urine. A few good ones are:
- Anti Icky Poo by MisterMax
- Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats by Nature’s Miracle
- Out! Stain and Odor Remover by Out! International
Some cleaners shouldn’t be used on wood floors or certain other surfaces, so read the label carefully before you buy.
Once you have your product, follow the directions to the letter. Each product has its own requirements in terms of moisture, temperature, and other factors. Think of the precision involved in the process of making cheese or brewing beer. That’s basically what you’re doing here.
In general, covering the area with a sheet of plastic to keep it warm and humid will help the enzymes work. After the period of time suggested in the product instructions, however, you’ll want to let the area air dry so the byproducts can be released.
But there’s one more thing you need to look out for. There are certain molecules act as inhibitors. These bind to an enzyme and prevent it from working effectively. When you’re using enzymes to clean, inhibitors are generally going to come from other cleaners.
For this reason, make sure the stained area is free from any other chemicals. Don’t use any soap, detergent, or even vinegar to clean the stain before you apply the enzyme cleaner. If you’ve already used some cleaning product on the stain, thoroughly rinse the area with pure water.
Another potential problem is the chemical composition of your cat’s urine itself. If your cat is on any medication, including simple flea or worm meds, or she’s eating a specially formulated diet, this alters the chemical composition of her urine. The chemists who formulated the enzyme cleaners didn’t account for these variations. In this case, you may need either a different enzyme cleaner or a different type of cleaner entirely.
Getting rid of the cat pee smell and stains is just half the battle, of course. You’ll also need to know how to get your cat back to using the litter box and not the carpet. To learn how to do that, check out Cat Urine Problems Eliminated.
If you’ve already tried cleaning cat urine using the common suggestions floating around the internet, you’ve probably realized many of those suggestions just don’t work.
There are two types of cat urine cleaning tips:
The Useless — Cleaning methods that don’t work at all or even do more harm than good. Ammonia is a good example. This chemical is great for cleaning and disinfecting glass and porcelain under normal circumstances, but it’s a very bad choice for cleaning any surface your cat has wet on.
Because ammonia is a component of urine, it makes the cleaned surface smell just a little bit like cat pee. You may not notice, but your cat’s more sensitive nose will pick it up. Bleach is another. As strong as this chemical is, it doesn’t have what it takes to break down cat urine crystal so they can be cleaned up.
The Specific — Cleaning methods that work only in certain circumstances. Wiping down a peed-upon surface with pure white vinegar can work, but only if it’s a non-porous surface such as glass or linoleum and only if the wet spot is very fresh. If you notice the “little accident” within 30 minutes or so and clean it up immediately, vinegar may be enough. For just amount any other situation, you’ll need something stronger.
Strange as it may sound, certain types of mouthwash, combined with white vinegar and liquid soap work well for cleaning cat urine and removing the smell. This recipe works best on lighter stains and odors, particularly those that haven’t had weeks to set.
Other homemade cat urine cleaners can work on deeper and more, shall we say, “richly scented” stains, but the ingredients will be different.
The Most Effective Solution for Cleaning Cat Urine
If the homemade recipes for cleaning cat urine don’t take care of your problem, it’s time to bring in the big guns: enzyme cleaners. These cleaners can be highly effective if you use them correctly. Use them incorrectly and you may as well be pouring plain water on the mess.
Instructions for use vary with each product, but one thing holds true for nearly all of them: never mix them with other cleaners. This includes nearly everything from dish soap to bleach, and for some even vinegar is no-no. Keep in mind that combining doesn’t just mean pouring both in a container and stirring. It means don’t apply the enzyme cleaner to a spot you’ve previously attempted to clean with another product unless you’ve thoroughly removed all traces of that other product.
Enzyme cleaners contain living microorganisms that can be kill or severely impaired by these harsh chemicals. Dead and sickly enzymes can’t work against stains and odors.
Some of the best commercially available products for cleaning cat urine are:
- Anti Icky Poo by MisterMax
- Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats by Nature’s Miracle
- Out! Stain and Odor Remover by Out! International
If you have a cat who has frequent “accidents” on your carpets, hardwood floors, furniture, elsewhere around your home, do yourself a favor and pick up one of these products soon. That way you’ll have it on hand to clean up any messes as soon as you find them. The faster you get rid of all the cat pee on the stained site, the less chance there is the spot will get smelly again after you think you’ve cleaned it.
Knowing the tricks for cleaning cat urine effectively helps, but ultimately, it’s a lot less work to stop your kitty from piddling around in the first place. This is possible. Even if you have an older, incontinent cat, there are things you can do to save your floors and furniture.
To learn more about correcting your cat’s inappropriate urination problems, check out Cat Urine Problems Eliminated.
With all that competition, it’s hard to know which one your cat will prefer. While it’s tempting to just grab the cheapest one or whatever happens to be on sale, choosing a cat litter that way could leave you with a cat who prefers to use the living room carpet instead. Taking the time to find a type both you and your cat are content with helps prevent little “accidents” like this.
Know Your Litters
Each type of cat litter has its pros and cons. Often, the type your cat prefers depends on some factor unique to her. For instance…
- The declawed cat you adopted may prefer a softer litter, such as one made of corn or wheat.
- Your former outdoor kitty may like a handful of dirt mixed into the box.
- A long-haired cat will want something that won’t stick to her fur.
- Your cat may simply not like the powerful odor of scented litter, but will happily use unscented.
Fortunately, you have a number of options.
This is the most common and usually the cheapest type of commercially available cat litter. Most (non feral) cats will use it, primarily because most have used it at some time when they were kittens. The downside of this litter is the silica dust it produces, which can cause lung problems in your cat. Inhaling that dust when you clean the box isn’t especially healthy for you, either.
The bentonite clay in this litter allows it to absorb liquids and swell, forming a clump that’s easy to scoop out. It’s convenient and many vets recommend it for adult cats, but only for adult cats.
Never use clumping litter with kittens younger than six months. Kittens tend to ingest litter when they clean their paws after using the box. Once inside the kitten’s digestive tract, the litter will swell just as it does in the litter box and can cause a potentially fatal intestinal blockage.
Just like clay litters, silica litter produces silica dust. To make matters worse, when your cat ingests it (by licking it offer her paws), it absorbs water and nutrients the cat needs for optimal health. This litter is less than ideal and some pet care professionals are wary of its safety. In any case, steer clear of silica litter if you have kittens or if your adult cat has any health issues.
More recently, a number of plant-based litters have appeared on the market. You’ll find litters made of pine, cedar, corn and wheat. Produced by eco-conscious companies, these litters are typically free of preservatives, dyes, and perfumes. Even so, they’re formulated to control odors so they won’t sink up the house.
Some cats prefer the softer texture of these litters. Not all cats take to them right away, but most can get used to them. Those who don’t may be put off my the natural scents, particularly with cedar, or the texture, so you’ll want to find a brand more suitable for your individual cat.
Tips for Switching Brands with No Accidents
If you’ve been having problems with your cat not using the box and you’ve decided to try a new litter, offer the new litter for at least two weeks. Your cat may need a little time to get used to the new scent.
If you’re currently using a litter your cat likes, but you want to change for health or ecological reasons, make the change a little at a time. After you clean the litter box, first fill the box with a layer of the new litter, then spread a thinner layer of the old litter on top. With each litter box cleaning, increase the amount of new litter, while decreasing the old.
Once you find a litter both you and your cat are happy with, stick with it. Cats are sensitive to change and a sudden change in litters could put the cat off the box. Switching brands in an attempt to save a little could cost you more in both time and money if your cat stops using the box and wets on the floor instead.
For more on choosing a safe, effective cat litter that meets your cat’s individual needs, check outCat Urine Problems Eliminated.