How Long Does Cat Urine Odor Last?

If you’ve ever had a cat pee anywhere other than the litter box, you know how gross of a smell it leaves behind. The smell is a cross between a dead skunk and ammonia.

It’s not so bad if an accident occurs on a hard surface, at least then you can clean it easily. However, if your cat voids on carpeted areas, curtains, or anything that absorbs moisture, it makes it very difficult to clean and get rid of the odor the urine leaves behind.

The smell can actually last indefinitely if it’s not cleaned with the proper chemicals. This reminds me of a home I purchased six years ago.

At the moment I went upstairs to view the bedrooms, I knew straight away there used to be animals living there. Even though they had ripped out all the old carpet and painted the subfloor to hide the smell, it didn’t work, obviously. Then, I ended up ripping out the brand new carpet they installed over the painted floors.

Eventually, I had to hire a pet urine removal company to come in and clean. Since then, I’m happy to say I have a home free of cat urine odor.

Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

Cat urine contains a compound called felinine made up of an amino acid containing sulphur. This gets excreted in their urine and we are all familiar with the pungent smell of sulphur.

Add to this fact that, when proteins are broken down within a cat’s body, urea is produced. Urea helps to break down harmful metabolic byproducts.

Excess ammonia is one of these byproducts which gets converted into urea before moving through the bloodstream.

The urea moves through the bloodstream and then to the kidneys where it is excreted as urine, hence the reason cat pee smells so bad.

Felinine | definition of felinine by Medical dictionary (

How To Get Rid Of Cat Urine Odor?

The odor from cat urine can linger forever if not cleaned with the proper cleaning products. It also depends on how long the urine has been sitting and what surface the urine has absorbed into.

If it’s a hard surface, a simple cleaning with hot soapy water should be sufficient. If the odor persists, then follow with an enzymatic product which can be found at any pet store.

An enzyme cleaner contains enzymes that break down stains and odors. The smell of urine will have no effect on the cat, but if not cleaned properly, it may act as an invitation for the cat to continue voiding in that area.

Make sure that the litter box gets cleaned daily to prevent your cat from voiding in areas throughout the house. If the urine is on the carpet, first spray the soiled area with an enzyme cleaner.

Let him sit for a few minutes and proceed in cleaning the carpet as you normally would. Enzyme cleaners are safe to use on carpets and other fabrics.

What To Do If You Can’t Locate The Odor?

There’s nothing worse than coming home to the foul smell of cat urine. Actually, there would be one worse thing, and that would be not being able to locate where the smell is coming from.

Dry cat urine gets stronger the longer it sits, so it’s important to locate it before it drives you crazy.

One of the best ways to do this is with a black light as substances containing a high level of protein become highly visible under this type of light. 

How To Know For Sure If The Smell Is Gone?

I know this sounds crazy, but after a while, we can actually become desensitized to certain smells.

The best way to know for sure if the smell is gone is to go outdoors for a little while and then come back in. You should be able to smell any odors still lingering. 

Why Is My Cat Not Urinating In The Litter Box?

There may be many reasons your cat is peeing everywhere except for the litter box. Your cat could be suffering from stress. Perhaps you adopted a new pet or had visitors over.

Try finding the source of your cat’s anxiety, and hopefully, it will be back to using the litter box. Clean all soiled areas to avoid the cat from voiding there again. 

Consult with your veterinarian if your cat continues voiding throughout your home to rule out any potential health conditions. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection which would explain the accidents.

Symptoms Of A Urinary Tract Infection

  • Howling when urinating
  • Straining to pee
  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased urination

Litter Box Size

A small litter box will sometimes deter a cat if it doesn’t have plenty of room to do its business. It needs to be big enough for a cat to turn around in, otherwise, it may pee outside of the box and other areas.

Cat Hygiene

After you have cleaned your home, it’s also important to keep all the areas that your cat frequents clean. Scoop the litter box at least twice a day or more if you have multiple cats. You may have to bathe your cat periodically to keep its coat free from odors.

Things Not To Do When Cleaning Cat Urine

  • Using air fresheners might be a solution. However, they will only mask the smell for a short time and do nothing to get rid of it. Do not use essential oils to freshen the air inside your home though, as certain ones can be harmful to your cat if ingested or inhaled. 
  • Do not use heat to clean, especially on carpet, as it may reactivate the smell if it wasn’t cleaned properly.

Final Thought

We love our cats and all of their quirkiness, however, the smell of cat urine is quite offensive. It can also be very embarrassing if you have unexpected guests over before you clean.

Hopefully, this article has answered most of your questions on how long the odor will last and how to clean it properly.

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