Sunday 13 July 2008

Eliminate cat urine odor

photo by fofurasfelinas

Before you find the best way to eliminate cat urine odor, it's probably best to find the exact cause of this very distinctive odor. Cat urine is more than just a means to expel waste products from the body. It serves a very important role in marking territory and creating for the cat an environment that he/she considers friendly as once sprayed by the cat the place will smell familiar and like his territory.

Cat urine includes but is not limited to these constituents:

Creatinine, nitrogen, Protein, Urea, Uric acid, Ammonia, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate and a cat pheromone named as 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB - this is also found in Sauvignon blanc wines. It is not absolutely certain that this pheromone is in the urine, it is speculated or supposed to be present). Wikipedia says that it is this chemical that makes the urine smell as it does. This may not be the complete case, however (see below). It is probable that the particular smell is due to a combination of the pheromone above plus the other elements of urine including significantly the uric acid.

Urine is normally sterile (if the kidney is healthy). If there is an infection it would probably be bacterial, in which case the urine would contain bacteria. Such an infection might, for example, cause Cystitis in cats (which may cause blood in urine)

We know that trying to eliminate cat urine odor is incredibly hard if you employ the usual cleaning methods. Water is a solvent but it won't get rid of cat urine or at least the smelly constituent of it. The usual detergents don't work that well either. The smell just comes back which means the substance that causes the smell remains despite the cleaning. All you are doing is masking the smell for a time.

The major ingredients of Cat Spray and Urine Strain and Odor Remover (a spray that can eliminate cat urine odor) are non-pathogenic bacteria, isopropyl alcohol and natural enzymes. The other ingredients are water and mild detergent. So, we know what is in the cat urine and we know what effectively removes the smell of it. How does it work?

Graphic depiction of WillowW (Wikimedia Commons).

Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions. This means they are a naturally occurring molecule (a protein) that speeds up a chemical reaction. A chemical reaction is in this instance results in a chemical change of the substance that causes the smell to a substance that does not smell. In other words a chemical change from one product to another as a result of the reaction, which has been speeded up by the natural enzyme, which is one of the active ingredients of the urine odor remover spray.

In this instance the enzymes dramatically speed up the natural (extremely slow) breakdown of the uric acid crystals (please make a comment if you can add to this), which are insoluble, usually. It would also seem to break down the pheromones present in cat urine.

Isopropyl alcohol, another active ingredient is a widely used solvent (it dissolves things as does water only more effectively) and a cleaning fluid. This fluid assists in washing away the broken down substance that used to smell to one that doesn't. In other words the uric acid and pheromones that are broken down at high speed by the enzymes are then dissolved in the alcohol and water and then blotted up by us, thereby being removed.

Non-pathogenic bacteria, another ingredient in the spray, is harmless bacteria incapable of causing disease. These bacteria as I understand it assists the cleaning process by "consuming the waste". It would seem to be a combination of events that combine to make this sort of specialist product effective.

So, it is this kind of product with these ingredients that work to eliminate cat urine odor. One such product that I have used is Simple Solution Cat Spray & Urine Stain & Odor Remover, which is available in the UK and being manufactured in the US must be available there too. It is safe for carpets and safe for car seats! There are a number of similar products and a simple Google search will find them.

I am not promoting this product for commercial reasons. There are other similar products. I can confirm that this product works. My cat used to get nervous when traveling in the car and used to pee in the cat basket. I didn't notice this initially. Some of the pee went on the car seat. Usual washing techniques, no matter for how long or how vigorously, did not work. This product worked although I kept some in the car to give a booster spray when required. You simply spray it on and blot off the excess. Eventually the smell went away.

To eliminate cat urine odor, get a commercial product like the one mentioned above as you will almost certainly waste your time using the usual methods to clean things. In fact you may make things worse by simply spreading the urine around. Don't use an ammonia cleaner as urine contains ammonia already so you'll be adding to the smell and creating an area that the cat considers a legitimate area to be used as a toilet.

From Eliminate cat urine odor to Home Page

Photo top of page:
  • fofurasfelinas is probably the best amateur cat photographer other than Dani Rozeboom. Published under a creative commons license.
Eliminate cat urine odor - Sources:
  • Wikipedia
  • Research papers


  1. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

    1. I have found, through experience, that vinegar helps neutralized the ammonia in cat urine and discourages them from using the same location again.

      What I would like to know is: Is there any way to dilute the ammonia smell in the urine itself? My neutered, indoor cat's urine is super potent and he only uses the litterbox.

  2. What makes, cat urine smell? The odor is made of invisible gases that have vaporized from the source. These vaporized urine odors float in the air attaching to the suspended water molecules and dust particles moving around the room. An all-natural paint additive has been developed, that converts any newly painted wall surface, into a perpetual air, purification system no electricity or filters required. The Air-ReNu, technology permanently maintains healthy indoor air quality and eliminates offensive odors. One treatment will last 10-12 years.


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