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7 Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Up Cat Urine

By Wendy Rose Gould
published: July 1, 2019 - updated: September 2, 2022 • 4 min. read
cat urine

Key Takeaways

  • Cat urine has a strong smell and can be a hassle to clean up.
  • Cats pee outside the litter box for many different reasons.
  • Clean the urine spot ASAP and soak it up with an absorbent towel.
  • Use enzymatic cleaners, but not heat, to clean cat urine.
  • You can buy all-natural cat urine cleaners or make your own with a DIY recipe.

Whether it happens with great frequency or with rarity, that familiar scent of cat urine on the floor is an undeniable one that causes some pet parent fury. It hits you the second you walk in the door, and you know that despite being a tiny puddle it’s going to be a monster to clean up. To help make said clean up easier, we’ve outlined some tips and tricks below. But first…

Why cats pee outside the litter box

Before we get into tips and tricks that make cleaning up cat urine way easier — and even help to prevent future episodes — we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how important it is to consider why your feline is exhibiting this behavior.

Sometimes urinating outside of the litter box is a harmless, nothing-to-worry-about accident. The box might be too close to a wall or their calculations could have been a little off, or they could be annoyed with your litter choice or a dirty litter box. However, cats also communicate with us via their bathroom habits, so take some time to evaluate your kitty if this happens.

Your feline could be lashing out due to anxiety or sadness (especially if they haven’t been getting a lot of love or are in a new, scary situation), or they could be experiencing physical distress. It’s also possible that they’re not impressed with their litter box situation, whether that’s the size of the litter box, its cleanliness, the type of litter, or where the box is placed. There are also some medical disorders that can lead to urination that ought to be addressed immediately. If urinating outside of the litter box persists, it’s important to schedule a vet visit.


7 tips and tricks for cleaning up cat urine

There’s arguably nothing worse than the sharp, lingering scent of cat urine. Unfortunately, that ammonia-like smell tends to stick in carpets and even hard surfaces, but with the right technique and products you can effectively rid your home of that tell-tale odor.

Tend to the spot ASAP

Every second counts when it comes to cleaning up cat urine. The longer it sits, the deeper it permeates the surface and the harder it is to get the urine scent out. Worse, it can become more concentrated over time, so swift cleanup is necessary. This is true for any type of surface and even if the urine has already dried.

Sop up liquid

If you’ve discovered the urine while it’s still wet, use a highly absorbent towel to pick up the liquid. Don’t scrub or rub the towel into the carpet since this can spread the urine to a larger surface area and even cause the stain to set deeper. Instead, lightly press the towel against the affected surface.

Don’t use heat

You may intuitively feel like adding heat, but this can exacerbate the issue. Use cool and/or dry towels and avoid using a steam cleaner.

Opt for enzymatic cleaning agents

Finding the best cat urine spot cleaner can be a long and trying feat but trust us on this one: use an enzymatic cleaner to neutralize the odor and lift stains. A few highly reviewed options include Sunny & Honey Enzyme Cleaner, Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator, and Nature’s Miracle Cat Urine Destroyer Foam Aerosol Spray.

Prefer all-natural? Try this DIY staple

If you don’t want to introduce a potent cleaning agent into your home, the old school baking soda and vinegar duo is a perfect DIY option. Sprinkle the urine spot with baking soda and then spray or drizzle vinegar on top. Allow the mixture to bubble and do its work for about five minutes, then absorb excess liquid with a paper towel. Repeat as many times as necessary. If you prefer to buy an all-natural cat urine cleaner, try Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator.

Nip feline spraying

We may easily envision the dog and fire hydrant cliché, but cats also mark their territory via spraying as a way to communicate with other felines. Instead of puddles on the floor, the liquid is usually on wall or vertical object.

If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, having this procedure done will likely remedy the issue quickly. Other common reasons why cats spray include high anxiety or a need for attention, so make sure to give your kitty lots of love and limit their view and access to stray cats or other stressors. Synthetic pheromones that alleviate stress, such as Feliway products, and CBD oil for pets can potentially help. If the issue persists, see your veterinarian to determine if there’s another cause or a more effective treatment.

Stop your cat from urinating outside of the box

As mentioned above, cats will sometimes pee outside of the litter box on accident. They’ll also do so as a way to communicate with you, whether that means they’re telling you they hate the litter choice, that the box needs to be cleaned, or that they’re feeling ill. Make sure the box is easy for them to get to and not in a cramped space, and even get a second or third box. For suspected medical issues, see your vet right away.

In addition to snuggles and tending to their medical needs, one of the best ways you can show your love is by making sure your pet is covered with pet insurance, if you aren’t already a pet parent with us, look into getting a free quote to help safeguard not just your wallet, but your special fur friend, too.

wendy gould
By Wendy Rose Gould

Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been in journalism for over a decade, and has been freelancing almost that entire time. In addition to lifestyle reporting, she also works with brands to create marketing content for their websites and blogs.

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