The Best Way to Remove Rust Caused by Cat Urine
Male Cats Just Spray . . .
Have you ever known a cat to spray, aka urinate, on metal items such as the vents on the bottom of some refrigerators, or in my case, on my air return (a large metal register for my furnace)? I’m not the only one who has come across this issue, as evident by the number of people complaining online and trying to find a solution to the problem. How do you get rid of the rust? Is it better to paint the vent or totally replace it? And will the cat (or cats) go back to mark it again?
In my case, I was able to repair mine (although replacing it may have been easier), and neither of my male cats has been back to leave his mark. I say male cats because I caught both of them spraying their urine back when I had taken in my 19-year-old Prince Albert from the elderly neighbor’s house after she died. I guess my Oliver and Simon were threatened with a new male in the house and thus had to mark their territory. And, yes, male cats do still spray their stuff even after they have been neutered.
So my plan was to go the cheap route by getting rid of the rust and painting myself. Easier said than done, I will tell you. I researched how to accomplish this feat, and, after some trial and error, was successful. Perhaps you can learn from my mishaps and have a much easier time should you ever have to repair rusted metal caused by cat urine.
How to Get Rid of the Rust
- First, I sanded down the rough rusted parts with sandpaper. Sanding down the vents was a time-consuming job, and I probably could have spent more time to get them smoother, but I sanded until I could sand no more. I used my leaf blower to blow as much dust as I could off the grill.
- Then I wiped down the vents with water to make sure they were clean and dust-free.
- Next, I was ready to paint. Since my insert had been there for many decades, most likely, it was way too difficult for me to unscrew it from the wall. Because of this, I decided to paint the thing while it was still in the wall. I spread newspaper underneath on the carpet, on the adjoining walls, as well as inside in front of the screen that looked underneath the house.
How to Paint the Register
It’s best when painting to do light coats, allowing them to dry before adding another coat. One thing I learned during this process was to make sure your paint isn’t too old. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t cover up the rust after several coats. I about threw up my hands to give in to buying a new insert. Before doing that, however, I decided to give it one last shot with some new paint. That did the trick!
I purchased paint that claims to stop rust and cover up everything. With the first light coat, the rust started to disappear. After a few coats, the vents looked brand new. I was quite pleased with myself for doing my own little DIY job.
I saved at least some money by doing it myself, unless you count the hours I spent. However, I do think with the right tools up front, especially with new paint, the job would have taken only an hour or so.
Estimated Cost of This DIY Project
Fine to medium sandpaper
.97 (one sheet at Walmart.com)
Rustoleum (or other) spray paint
Summary of Steps
- Remove majority of rust by smoothing with sandpaper.
- Remove dust with blower if desired.
- Wipe down vents with damp cloth.
- Spread newspapers on floor, walls, and inside air return.
- Spray paint in several light layers, allowing them to dry between layers.
Did the cats return to the scene of the crime?
I have cats. I deal with cat urine. This spraying on metal was new to me, but I figured out how to handle the problem and am very pleased with the results. Have the boys returned to the spot to do their business there again? I am thrilled to say that no, they haven't.
This makes me think that the odor was also removed and the problem is solved. My fingers are still crossed. I hope this has helped other cat lover do-it-yourselfers who might run into this problem.