Dealing with Cat Pee Accidents

Once you have smelled the odiferous scent of cat urine, you will never forget it. Anyone who has had an accident-prone cat can attest to the power of the lingering odor of cat pee. Once a cat finds a favorite place on the floor or carpet, they are more likely to return to that spot. And, when cat pee accidents continue, the whole house will smell like cat pee as soon as you walk in the door.

Unfortunately, this is not an unusual problem among felines. Not every kitty adheres to the litter box only rule, and some kitties have issues with training throughout their lives. So what’s a conscientious cat lover to do?

The team at Union Lake Pet Services is here to provide some insight.

Why Certain Cats Pee Outside of the Litter Box

Before we get started on how to keep your cat from continued accidents, it is critical to understand why your cat is doing this. Cats are typically clean and do not like to stray from their normal litter box routine until something is bothersome to them.

  1. Check in with your veterinarian about the health of your cat. When was the last time they were examined? Cats who are dealing with an illness or pain such as bladder or urinary tract infection, diabetes or kidney disease will sometimes eliminate outside of the box.
  2. Make sure you have enough litter boxes. At a minimum, each cat should have his or her own litter box. Even better is one box per cat plus one additional box, or even two litter boxes per cat.
  3. Keep your litter boxes clean. Yes, this means scooping daily. Scrub out the box and refill, every 1-4 weeks depending upon level of use.
  4. Place litter boxes in areas that give your cat more privacy yet with easy access. Once your cat is accustomed to these locations, keep them there.
  5. Avoid placing litter boxes near food and water dishes. Cats don’t want litter box odors near their food.
  6. Place litter boxes where one dominant cat can’t easily prevent, or discourage, another cat from using all of the boxes.
  7. How does your cat litter smell? With sensitive noses, cats don’t like heavily-scented cat litter. Their favorite is unscented, clumping clay litter containing activated charcoal. Rather than switching overnight, offer two boxes, one with the old and one with the new litter to see which they prefer.
  8. Sometimes a cat doesn’t like the type of litter box you’ve chosen. Enclosed boxes especially can be dark and smelly. A large, open box with low sides and easy access is usually preferable.
  9. Determine whether your cat is actually peeing (squatting to pee on a horizontal surface) or spraying to scent mark their territory (standing to spray a small amount of urine on a vertical surface). If it’s scent marketing, that’s a different issue.
  10. Have there been any big changes? Stress has a major impact on litter box habits. The birth of a child, a residential move, addition of a new pet? These and other disruptions can impact your cat’s sense of security and behavior.
  11. Multi-cat homes can also be the source of stress. Cats need places where they can avoid each other, especially if they don’t get along well.
  12. Help cats destress with Feliway products, or use calming herbs such as mint, parsley or rosemary to help them relax. Provide your cat with plenty of mental stimulation. If your cat is very stressed, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication.

There are several reasons for urine accidents, but it’s best to get a clean bill of health from your veterinarian first before considering other possibilities.

Cleaning Up Cat Pee Accidents

Now that we have looked at causes, it’s important to clean up and prevent future mishaps. What’s the right way to clean up cat pee accidents and prevent your cat from returning to the scene of previous accidents, you ask? Here are tips from the pros:

  • Get as much of the urine as you can sponged up and taken out to the trash right away, to avoid further saturation of the surface.
  • Use an enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly eliminate the smell. Enzyme-based products actually break down the urine. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to maximize effectiveness.
  • Or, use Surgical Spirit solution to eliminate the smell.
  • Don’t use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners–these can cause your cat to return to the same spot.
  • For bedding, towels and other fabrics, wash them using hot water if possible.
  • Check the area with a blacklight if you have one to be sure you’re getting all of the urine.
  • If possible, after applying the cleaners, use a wet vac to extract the waste. Cold water is preferable, since heat can actually set the odor.
  • If your cat has been peeing on your carpet repeatedly, consider having it professionally cleaned to remove smells of past accidents.
  • If your cat continues to pee in a particular place, move a litter box on top of that location. Once they’ve used the box there over several weeks, very gradually shift the box in small increments.
  • You can also choose to use baking soda or herbs to help absorb the odor, like cloves, peppermint, citrus, and rosemary.
  • Using a product such as Feliway Classic can help stop peeing outside the litter box.

Remember to keep boxes clean and to have enough on hand so that each kitty doesn’t feel anxious that too many cats are using the box. To prevent future accidents, promptness and thoroughness in cleaning are key.

Oh, and a word to the wise – unaltered cats are much more likely to mark their turf, especially males, so this is another great reason to have your cat spayed or neutered. It’s for their health and to maintain a clean smelling home!

If you have questions about litter box training or problems, please do not hesitate to call us! We can help you get to the bottom of this stinky situation.