Cat Urine Stains and Odor

Published: 12th June 2009
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One of the most notoriously resistant stains, cat urine can be almost impossible to remove. There are plenty of tales regarding cat urine stains that end with the removal and disposal of furniture, carpeting and even floorboards. There are many cat owners who are too embarrassed to have guests into their homes because the cat smell has gotten too overwhelming, even if they only own one cat. What is it about cat urine that makes it so difficult to remove?

Cat urine consists of water, trace minerals, salts, creatinine, hormones, urea and ammonia. When the urine saturates any porous material, the water in it eventually evaporates, leaving behind a dry crust of the remaining components. Porous materials are especially prone to capturing smells and stains because the pores of the material are literally holes that fill up and hold the residuals left behind by the evaporated urine.

While the area that was saturated with cat urine is wet, the smell may be more noticeable. This is because the water from the urine evaporates and sends the odor molecules into the air. Once the area is dry, the odor will remain, but won't be as pungent as when it was wet. Humidity due to weather tends to make smells more noticeable, again because of water evaporating out of the affected area.

The best way to reduce cat urine odor is to prevent it. Providing fresh cat litter and changing the litter box often encourages a cat to keep using the box. Cats are fastidious animals and prefer to go in a box that is clean. If there are several cats in a household, the rule of thumb is to provide one litter box per animal plus an extra one. For example, if you have two cats, provide three boxes and so on. Litter-box training comes fairly naturally to most cats as they enjoy scratching in the litter and prefer to go in a designated spot away from the areas where they eat and sleep. Just remember to keep the litter clean!

The first step in reducing and removing cat odor from an object or carpet is to try to physically remove as much cat urine as possible. This reduces the amount of precipitate that causes the odor. Removing the urine from an object begins with washing it out or off of the area covered with urine. For carpeting, it is advisable to blot up or extract as much as possible while the area is still fresh. Blotting can be done by using a dry, disposable cloth to press into the wet area, wicking up as much urine as possible. A better method than blotting is to use a carpet extractor which will suck the urine out without pressing it further into the carpet. If the area that has been affected is already dry, proceed to the next step.

There are a lot of products that will mask odor but by far the best way to remove cat urine is to use enzymes to digest and neutralize it. There are many different formulations and strengths of enzyme products and some work better than others. The most important thing to remember when using these products is to follow the directions listed on the packaging. Many enzyme products require that the area be kept moist for a specified amount of time in order for the enzymes to have enough time to do their job. Some enzymes are also sensitive to temperature, so it may be necessary to seek out a product that will work for a specific situation if temperature is a concern. Most products perform better in a warmer rather than colder environment.

In many cases, particularly with cat urine, an area or object may require more than one treatment with an enzyme-based product. It is advisable to wait until the area dries thoroughly before retreating. This helps reduce the chance for mildew to take hold and can help to cut down on other damage associated with over-saturation.

Cat urine stains can be difficult to remove, if not impossible. Some remedies work well, others don't. For more information about cat urine odor please visit the Petstainoff Website.

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