How to Get Rid of Sour Cat Urine Odor for Good

Updated on December 5, 2017
s.carver profile image

Newspaper reporter by trade, though in my spare time I'm interested in pets, health, books, cooking, the outdoors, and family.

Stop Smelling Like a Crazy Cat Lady

Even diehard cat lovers have to admit that not only is the smell of cat urine TERRIBLE, it is almost impossible to remove from carpets, upholstery, fabric, floors, bedding, or anywhere else. Kittens and aging cats, in particular, often have continence issues. You have to sympathize, but you also don't want to live in the stink of cat pee or allow your beloved pet to ruin the furniture.

The other part of the problem is that wherever an animal goes to the bathroom becomes THE bathroom. Even if you clean it up, the scent remains as a reminder that this is where to go and an invitation to others to join the pee party.

Cat urine odor removal is a big business, one to which pet stores have devoted entire aisles. Desperate pet owners spend huge sums trying to get rid of those stains and that musky, acrid smell. We all know that most of these products do not work. They may mask the problem for a short time, but after awhile, it returns.

Here's what to do if you find cat pee...

  • on washable clothing, bedding, curtains, or small rugs
  • on carpet, upholstery, or any unwashable items
  • odor or old stains that won't go away.

Note: These methods and recipes work equally well for dog urine, too.

To Remove Cat Urine From Clothing, Bedding, or a Washable Curtain or Rug

  1. Throw the affected items in the washer with soap and enzymatic cleanser.
  2. Add more cleansers and repeat the wash cycle until the smell is gone. (Don't put the items in the dryer until you're sure the smell is gone.)
  3. You can also spot-treat these items with the DIY spray I describe below.

To Remove Cat Urine From Carpet, Upholstery, or Any Unwashable Surface

  1. Blot up any liquid you might find.
  2. Soak the area with an enzymatic cleaner for 15 minutes. These products, available at any pet store, contain biological enzymes that break down the proteins in urine. They are the smartest thing to remove the smell of fresh cat pee.
  3. Let dry thoroughly.
  4. If the smell persists, use one of the solutions I describe below.

Homemade Cat (or Dog) Urine Odor Treatment

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and soak the urine-affected area.
  2. Let the solution dry completely.
  3. Once it is dry, vacuum away the residue left by the baking soda.

Be sure to spot test a small area of the fabric or carpet first to make sure it is colorfast. This solution shouldn't bleach any fabrics, but it is best to check to be sure.

This treatment can be used on fabric, woven carpets, any kind of floor, cement — pretty much any surface on which a pet might urinate.

The above recipe will give you enough cleanser to use twice or treat two stains. Mix more to treat larger areas. Do not store the already-mixed solution: mix a fresh new batch when your pet has an accident.

Other Solutions and Ingredients That Might Work to Remove Sour Odor Smells

  • White vinegar is great to get rid of some odors, though it isn't always effective against cat and dog pee. Used straight from the bottle or diluted with water, white vinegar will help neutralize pet urine odors, and it won't leave behind a sour vinegar smell.
  • Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, works great for absorbing odors. Sprinkle it on the spot after you’ve cleaned and the area has thoroughly dried, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum.
  • Nature's Miracle is an enzyme-based odor remover found at most pet stores. Some pet owners swear by it, but it didn't work well for my mom.
  • OxyClean is an oxygen-based cleaner (like hydrogen peroxide) and can kill bacteria which may be the reason for that lingering cat urine smell. Mix it with water and baking soda to remove pet odors.
  • Use a wet vac if you have one. It can be a great way to clean urine from a carpet or upholstery. Don't use a steam cleaner, though, because it might set the smell.

Two products that have been recommended by readers:

  • OdoBan and OdoMute are two products that many people say works well on cat pee, but I have not tried them.
  • Woolite Pet Stain & Odor Remover is available at most stores with a decent cleaning aisle. I have not tried this product.

What if the Urine Odor or Stain Is Old?

Enzymatic cleaners only work on fresh urine, but if time has passed or if other cleansers were already used on the stain, you should use the homemade cleanser I describe below!

A cat's sense of smell is stronger than a person's,

so even if you can’t smell anything, your cat might, and that smell signals her to pee in that area again.

My Mom's Long-Lasting, Homemade, Natural Recipe for Cat Urine Odor and Stain Remover

My mother has a cat who gets angry at her when she travels, so whenever mom gets back from a lengthy trip or even a night away, she comes home to numerous pee stains. She had tried everything, from Nature's Miracle to calling in COIT carpet cleaners to OxyClean. These all worked a little bit, but on the next trip, the cat would be back to her old tricks, in many of the same places, urinating to show her displeasure. It got so bad that mom's entire house started to smell like cat pee, and close friends would mention the smell when they came to visit.

That's when she hit on this easy-to-make recipe that really works. It's simple to use and made from ingredients you probably already have lying around your house.

I have also used this recipe to treat an area on my front steps where a very large dog that recently moved into the neighborhood decided to take his morning and evening constitutional. The urine smell was very strong, and bleach neither removed the odor nor got the dog to stop urinating on my stair post. This recipe did the trick.

Prevent Future Accidents

The best way to avoid cat odors is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Tips to Prevent Your Cat From Urinating In the Wrong Place

The very best way to eliminate cat urine and dog pee odors from your house is by not letting them happen in the first place. Here are five useful tips that will help keep your cat from random accidents:

  • Spay or neuter the animal while it is young.
  • Keep the kitty litter very clean at all times.
  • Try changing the type of litter you use.
  • Do not feed your cat in the same area that you keep its kitty litter.
  • Get an extra cat litter box so your cat has options.
  • Cats don't want to pee near their food. If your cat pees in an area, you can try moving the cat's food dish to that area to prevent further accidents.
  • Put something large (like a sofa or a plant) in the spot where the cat likes to pee so she'll be prevented from peeing there in the future.
  • Avoid stressing out your cat, as stress makes cats pee erratically.
  • Take your cat in for regular checkups at the vet. Those who have a lot of accidents could have a more serious kidney infection or other medical problem.
  • Re-train your cat. Consistently and patiently take her to the litter box and give her pets and positive feedback when she uses it.
  • Cats spray (mark walls and vertical surfaces) to mark their territory or when they feel threatened. If it's spray we're talking about instead of regular pee (a wet pool on the floor), you'll need to treat the psychological reasons for the cat's anxiety.

Take your cat in for regular checkups at the vet.

Accidents could indicate a more serious kidney or bladder infection or other medical problem.

© 2011 s.carver

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    • profile image

      bert 2 weeks ago

      Odors are an ongoing problem for pet owners; candles and sprays are temporary fixes, which have, to be replaced when they run out. There is a natural permanent application that will resolve your odor problems. The Ionic Paint Additive by Air-ReNu is an additive you blend with interior house paint and apply to the interior walls, and once applied it works 7/24/365 and continue to remain effective for 8-12 years.

    • profile image

      debbie 3 months ago

      how to get rid of cat pee in your home help

    • profile image

      Al 3 months ago

      If I wash my hard wood floor , do I just let it dry after sprayng on the floor or just mop the floor

    • profile image

      Lauren C. 4 months ago

      We have only had good results with the enzyme based Natures Miracle product in the red sprsy bottle, unless it has been changed . Their aerosol can carpet product uses a strong masking perfume abd we do not recommend that version.

    • profile image

      sirena 5 months ago

      nancy some litter types are too rough for declawed cats to use...

    • profile image

      Matt 5 months ago

      Thanks so much for this! One of my cats peed on the carpet and it went unnoticed until the entire downstairs of the house smelled awful. I tried woolite spray which didn't really work. Then I found your solution and it worked amazingly! Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      Nancy 5 months ago

      In addition to these five tips, I'd like to add the following: Do not have your cat declawed. I adopted a declawed cat from a local shelter and it took me months before I finally had her successfully using her litter box. She would pee on the carpet, sofa, towels, dirty clothes on the floor, anything soft and I think it was because of the declawing procedure.

    • profile image

      Geoff McColgan 5 months ago

      I agree with you completely regarding the "Natures Miracle" not working for your Mom. I tried it and it was a total waste of money.

      However there are positive reviews regarding another urine odor remover called "NoK Out". I haven't yet tried it but am considering it.

      Thanks.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 6 years ago from Iowa

      I have a cat like your mother's that gets separation anxiety when we travel and pees on the carpet. I am going to try this! Thanks for sharing.