How do I remove cat urine smell?

Q: My cat, Nutmeg, was urinating outside her litter box, so I took her to the veterinarian, who initiated treatment. I want to get rid of the urine odors that persist, in part to prevent Meg from urinating in the same spots, but I can't find them. How do I identify where she urinated? What's the best way to remove cat urine?

A: The first step is to buy a black light (ultraviolet light) available online or at a store that sells posters to teens. Wait until dark, and turn off your lights. Then hold your black light an inch or two from your carpet, upholstery and drapes.

Urine, whether wet or dry, fluoresces under black light. Dust particles and other things do, too, so don't be distracted by the tiny sparkles you see topping your carpet. The areas that glow fluorescent yellow-green are urine puddles or sprays.

Clean the urine spots with an enzymatic cleaner that removes the stain and odor. Popular brands are Nature's Miracle and Simple Solution. The cleaner's enzymes break down the urine and remove the odor. Soaps and detergents are ineffective and prevent the enzymes from working, so resist the urge to use them first.

Follow the directions on the enzyme product label, dowsing the area with copious quantities of the cleaner. Remember that you need to soak the carpet and the pad underneath. I scrub the area with my fingers, let the cleaner sit for the recommended time, and then place an old towel on the carpet and stand on it to blot up the moisture and stain. Then I repeat the dowsing, allowing the second treatment to evaporate and take the odor with it. If the urine smell persists after the area is dry, repeat the treatment.

With any luck, your home's urine odor should disappear, and with veterinary care, Meg's problem should not recur.

Editor’s Note: It happens, regardless of how well you’ve trained your pup. Eventually they have an accident…or two. Here are the best products for cleaning up those stubborn pet messes.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at vet@askthevet.pet

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