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How to get cat urine odor out of carpet

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

House starting to smell like a litter box? Try this…

Whether you're litter box training, have a kitty that has the occasional accident or have an elderly cat with unpredictable bladder control, the time will come when your cat pees on the carpet. Unfortunately, cat urine has a very strong ammonia smell, and your house will quickly start to smell like a litter box if you don't get the stains out completely. There are, however, steps you can take to ensure that doesn't happen.

1. Glove up

This isn't exactly required but recommended since you are a) dealing with urine of some kind and b) cat urine has ammonia in it. That said, a good hand scrubbing after you're done will also do the trick.

2. Blot up as much as possible

If you catch the stain while it's still wet, blot up as much as possible. The Humane Society recommends using a really absorbent paper towel, but I'm here to tell you that the best way to blot up wet stains from your carpet (pet or otherwise) is a ShamWow. This is absolutely not a product pitch and no one paid me to say that, but I use them and they work. You can buy the larger size and cut it into squares suitable for cleaning up urine, but keep in mind they're good for other things, too, so you might want to keep one whole. Just chuck them in the washer when you're done.

3. Use an enzymatic cleaner

OxiClean may work on dog urine, but for cat urine, stick with an enzymatic cleaner. It breaks down the urine, so things are clean and smell-free once it's dry. Even if the non-enzymatic cleaner seems to work well to your nose, remember your cat can smell better than you, so it may keep peeing in the same spot.

They even make enzymatic cleaners specifically formulated for cat urine. Follow the directions on the bottle.

4. Use a wet vac, not a steam cleaner

The heat of a steam cleaner can set the odor in so skip those. But a wet vac used with no heat (if that's an option on yours) will use clean water deposited into the carpet to saturate and dilute, then suck it back up into the vacuum.

5. Use baking soda to absorb lingering odors

You put it in your fridge for the same reason — baking soda is great at absorbing odors. Once the area is clean and dry, sprinkle it with baking soda or a baking soda-based carpet freshener. Then let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes (or according to the package directions for commercial fresheners) and vacuum it up.

6. An ounce of prevention is worth a piss-load of cure

The more times your cat urinates in the house, the more potent the telltale scent will become if not dealt with properly. But if you're having a frequent issue, there are steps you can take.

  • Retraining you cat on the litter box
  • Clean the litter box more often (cats don't like going in a messy box anymore than we like port-a-potties)
  • Add more litter boxes (for more than one cat or for one that displays a preference for two locales for relieving itself)
  • Have your cat spayed or neutered
  • Get the vet to check for kidney or bladder problems
  • Take it to a behaviorist to check for anxiety-related issues
  • If it's constantly doing it in the same area (which is probably marking), lay down puppy training pads in those areas

More on caring for your kitty

Catnip facts to know before giving any to your kitty
Why your previously sociable cat has started hiding
Before you board your pet, know these safety tips

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