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Why Does My Whole House Smell Like Cat Urine?

Est. read time: 7 min.

Yikes! You just walked in the door and your house smells like cat urine. There’s no mistaking the heavy odor. Even the smallest amount can leave pet parents scratching their heads trying to find the underlying culprit of the unwanted behavior. Whether your cat is spraying to mark territory, frustrated by their litter box, or simply misbehaving, the smell of urine radiating around your house should be attended to quickly.

We’ll explore how you can find the underlying issue causing your cat to urinate outside of their litter box, why the smell is so potent, and how to remove the urine smell.

What does strong-smelling cat urine mean?

Cat urine is naturally a strong-smelling odor. It contains urea and uric acid, which is what continues to last on surfaces such as wood, carpet, and fabric for years after it is released from your cat’s body. When the urine decomposes, bacteria breaks down the urea—which then releases ammonia. The smell of acid can be temporarily neutralized with baking soda, soap, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. But humidity can cause uric acid to recrystallize, and you guessed it—the smell will return.

When you smell the strong scent of cat urine, you’ll want to discover why your cat is utilizing spaces outside their litter box. The first thing you should do before you begin to get rid of cat odors in your house is identify the culprit. 

Identify the culprit

Cat urine is a notoriously foul-smelling substance. When you aren’t able to catch your cat in the act, it becomes harder to find the area your cat is marking. The first step you should take is to make sure that the ammonia smell is truly coming from cat urine. There are other sources—like mold and boxwood shrubs—that smell similar, so start ruling those out before blaming the cat.

If you’re certain cat urine is the culprit, ensure that your cat has constant access to a clean litter box. Invest in a self-cleaning litter box that automatically cycles waste, leaving your cat with a fresh place to constantly relieve themselves. You should also ensure you’re using high-quality litter. Cats are particular, so be sure to find one that your cat finds appealing. Once your cat has access to a clean litter box, you can begin to identify other steps you should take.

Now you can start investigating the source of the odor. Is there an unlucky spot in your home? Or is the urine odor more widespread? You’ll need to narrow down the areas of the urine within your home by sniffing around. Start with the obvious places: corners, furniture, curtains, rugs, and even the soil in potted plants! Sometimes using a UV blacklight can help you identify urine in hard-to-spot places.

Don’t forget to check your personal belongings too! Because if your cat is having an attitude problem, they might be expressing themselves by peeing on your bed, pillows, clothing, or other personal possessions. 

You’ll then want to begin working on cleaning up the urine (which we’ll explore more below). After you’ve cleaned up the contentious spots, consider the underlying question: Why is my cat urinating outside of the litter box? Ask yourself the following questions: Is my cat being territorial? Has anything changed in my home to spark a behavior change? Does my cat have any underlying or undiagnosed medical conditions? 

After you’ve explored those questions, your next step will be dependent upon your answer. Consider moving your litter box to the area they prefer. Destress your home and help your cat acclimate to changes. If all else fails, reach out to your veterinarian to ensure there are no sicknesses ailing your feline. 

5 steps for removing cat urine smell

Whisker cleaner spray in front of Litter-Robot 4

Wondering how to get rid of cat urine smells? Whether they’re old stains or new spots, it’s important to remove cat urine smells as soon as possible. 

Step 1: Absorb any wet urine

The first step in cat smell removal is to absorb any wet urine. Use an old towel and absorb as much urine as possible by blotting the area as soon as you notice a spot. 

Step 2: Use an enzyme cleaner

For old and new stains alike, you will want to apply an enzyme cleaner to the soiled area. Apply this directly to the trouble spot and either leave it to dry naturally, or wipe it up after 15 minutes. Do not rush the drying process. 

Step 3: Cover the area that is being treated

Many cats become curious when they see their favorite piddle area being treated with something other than their urine. It is best if you can close off the room or use a laundry basket to cover the area—while still allowing proper airflow—to keep your feline out of the way during the cleaning process. 

Step 4: Keep airflow moving

You will want to use fans and open windows to help odors escape your home. Don’t let the odors continue to linger. 

Step 5: Identify why your cat is having accidents

Last but not least, find out what is causing your cat to have accidents outside of the litter box. Then take proactive steps to help resolve future cat urine issues. 

How to prevent your cat from peeing in the same spot

Siberian cat inside Litter-Robot 4

The easiest way to get rid of cat urine smells in your house is to avoid them in the first place. Helping your cat with litter box training, and having a constantly clean litter box, is a great place to start.

Litter-Robot 4 provides your cat with a litter box that is always clean—which will ideally lead to them acting out less! Litter-Robot’s fresh bed of litter, tightly sealed waste drawer, and cleaning wipes keep odors at bay, assisting with any multi-cat territorial issues in your home. 

With a healthy diet, a clean litter box, and plenty of attention from their loving parents, you should see your cat make drastic improvements. However, if your cat seems to be urinating more frequently, or continues to pee outside the box, ensure that there are no medical conditions with your veterinarian. 

Remove cat urine smell for good

How to get rid of cat odors in the house is a top concern among pet parents. Cat smell removal is an important thing to tackle as soon as you notice it. The smell can be a huge turn-off—not only for you and your family but for visitors as well. Avoid the smell by utilizing an enzyme cleaner to rapidly treat any spots where your cat misses the mark, and ensure they have access to a constantly clean litter box. The most important thing to remember is there is a root cause to your cat's behavior. Identify it to ensure that your cat stops urinating in the wrong places. You will then have a fresh-smelling home that is free from cat urine odors! 

Is it normal for my cat to pee outside of the litter box?

If your cat is litter box trained, it is not normal for them to pee outside of the litter box. They may do so if they are stressed, have a medical condition, or do not have access to a clean litter box.

Will the cat pee smell eventually go away?

Uric acid is what causes cat pee to smell so pungent. It can remain on surfaces for years and will continue to return unless it is properly treated.

Why does my house smell like cat pee when I don't have a cat?

Multiple things can cause your house to smell like cat urine, even if you don’t have a cat. Investigate if there is mold, leaking Freon, sewer gases, smelly plants, spoiled food, or even stains from previous pet owners.

 

White cat sitting on toilet next to self-cleaning Litter-Robot with Litter-Robot cleaner spray above - why does my whole house smell like cat urine?