How Can I Keep Cat Urine Odors At Bay?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I am looking for a place to rent for cat grooming. The landlord to be is really concerned about how I will get the “spraying odor” out of the shop. She had a previous grooming tenant, and said when he left, that the place was a nightmare from lingering cat/dog smells. She said after scrubbing and bleaching, she still can’t get the odors out. I’m not sure this is really the whole issue, though: the rental is a basement unit, with no windows for ventilation.

Any words of wisdom? I don’t want to guarantee her anything other than I will do my best to keep the place clean.

~ Teri

LOLcat with caption "Why can't you ever talk about the times I DON'T pee on your shoes? You never mention THOSE!Siouxsie: Given that your potential landlord has had a bad experience with a previous tenant who ran a grooming shop, we’re not surprised she’d be worried about having another groomer move in. Even we cats agree that cat spray is just about the most revolting smell on the planet.

Thomas: Hey! Before I had my operation, I had the most wonderful-smelling spray in the world! I loved it so much that I’d rub my cheeks on it just to entice the ladies even more ….

Dahlia: Eeeewwwwww!

Siouxsie: Aside from the fact that it’s probably not the best idea to have a grooming business in a place with no windows and no ventilation (Mama says she’s not even sure that’s legal), your landlord did exactly the wrong thing to remove the urine odors.

Thomas: When cleaning urine, you absolutely do not want to use bleach. Like urine, bleach contains ammonia, and adding ammonia to ammonia only ramps up the smell, which can encourage cats to re-mark the spot.

Dahlia: The proper way to remove urine odors is to find where the cats have peed and use the proper products to do the job.

A hand-held black light

This is one of the many types of portable black lights available. The devices range widely in size and price.

Siouxsie: You find the urine spots by using a black light. Cat urine stains — like all protein-based stains — fluoresce under black light.

Thomas: To track down cat urine, you’ll want to look not only on the floors but on the walls and drapes, too. Cat spray can be found two feet up walls, depending on the height of the cat who let loose to mark his territory.

Dahlia: Once you’ve found the urine stains, there are several ways to remove them, for good.

Siouxsie: Fizzion is a carbon dioxide-charged pet stain and odor remover we first heard about on cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy’s show, My Cat From Hell. This stuff apparently works wonders, according to Jackson’s clients and others who have used it.

Thomas: Another option is to use an enzyme-based cleaner. There are a whole lot of these on the market, but Mama swears by Anti Icky-Poo. Yes, it has a silly name, but it’s very effective. The stain remover does the job with minimal effort, and the odor remover works very well, too.

Dahlia: Over at The Happy Litterbox, you can check out a post with links to a whole variety of cat urine cleanup products. We’ve never used Clean + Green, one of the products recommended there, but it’s one we’d certainly be willing to try.

Siouxsie: And of course, there’s the old standby — the cheapest method of all: White vinegar, water, and baking soda. This video shows you how to use this DIY concoction to remove urine stains and odors from your carpets:

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

 Thomas: This step-by-step guide adds a hydrogen peroxide-and-dish-detergent step to the previous process.

Dahlia: So, there are some effective ways to remove urine odors. We think you should share these tips with your landlord, because since the previous tenant was irresponsible about cleaning, she’s now got to suck it up and be responsible for cleaning the place between tenants. Even if she ends up not renting the space out to you, she’ll want to clean it well for her next tenant.

Siouxsie: If your landlord refuses to do the cleaning and you still want to move into the space, we definitely think you should clean it yourself before you open for business. Otherwise, the lingering odors will not only turn off your human customers, they’ll stress out your feline customers and make the grooming experience much more traumatic than it needs to be.

Thomas: Good luck, Teri. We hope your business does great, wherever you end up running it!

  • Donna

    Great advice! I’m book”marking” this page! Thanx, kittens!

  • Adrianna

    For still wet and fresh pee a generous amount a baking soda does a great job. it kills any odor and sucks all of the pee up. It works great on carpets. My mate is super sensitive to smells and he has been pleased with the results. Let the baking soda dry completely and then vacuum it up.

  • Dawn

    Good post! I really like the video and the fact that they recommend sopping up the urine before cleaning it. That seems to be a big step in keeping it from going down further into the padding.

    I have used the Fizzion and have done a review on it – . I found it worked really well even on the huge mess I used it on.

  • lucy

    hello my name is lucy, what i am telling you, comes from doctor harry and what i have remembered from better homes and gardens, so watch it! A cat’s urine has that super strong odor because of protein contained in it. If you read the section below on spraying you will see that cats like to mark their territory. When cat urine dries on the carpet it forms crystals and those crystals are the source of a serious cat urine odor. These crystals make cat urine removal very difficult. When you try and remove the cat urine with a normal cleaner the cleaner usually masks the odor of the urine and you will think that you have removed the spot successfully. But these crystals reactivate their odor in moist conditions and you will find the extreme cat urine odor returning again and again. You need to use a cleaner which can break down the crystals formed by the cat urine to get rid of that extreme odor completely.

  • Cynthia

    In terms of enzymatic cleaners, I’ve sworn by Nature’s Miracle since being introduced to it by a landlady/friend who dealt with feral cat TNR about 12 years ago. I’d likely be more inclined to use the vinegar-and-baking-soda method shown here now, simply for the cost savings, but if you’d rather spend the money than have to make your own solution, enzymatic cleaners are the way to go, and Nature’s Miracle is one I trust.

  • Hendrika

    Hi there,
    We have a male cat about 7-8 months old and have not had issues until the last 2 months. We never had issues with him scratching our furniture, meouwing etc and from day one he used his litterbox as if he had done it for years.

    Since about two months ago i have really been batteling. First it was fleas, which i am hoping i have got under control, and now he has started moaning loudly in the evenings from about 2 months ago. He has never sprayed or pee’d against our furniture as we would have smelled it before, but the last two months have been torture come home to this awful urine smell hanging in our house. I have changed litter but even still that smell hangs in the air. I have used baking soda on our 1 small carpet in lounge, i have even bought a UV flashlight (one used for scorpion detection) but cannot find any urine stains (maybe i do not know what to look for). I am now down to my last resort which is getting him fixed, but even that will not take the smell that is already in our house away. Please, please, please can you help me with some advice. He is a house cat so stays inside the house most of the time, only goes out when i am with him as we have dogs, so mostly he is indoors during the day, with everything closed which obviously makes the smell even worst when you open the front door in the afternoon.

    Would really appreciate some advice
    here is the link to the light i bought to detect the urine, if anyone can tell me if this will detect it or not.