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How Long Does Cat Urine Smell Last? Facts & Cleaning Tips

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

cat looking at its pee on the carpet

So, you found some cat pee in your house. Or maybe the smell is there, but you can’t seem to locate the source. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Cat urine has an aroma that seems to linger much longer than other scents, and it’s not appealing. Cat urine odor can linger for a while, depending on the material your cat peed on. You can’t help but feel a little embarrassed thinking about how your house smells like the inside of a litter box.

If this is you, keep reading. We’re sharing some dos and don’ts about cat urine and how to get rid of the smell. Let’s get to work!

Why Cat Urine Smells So Bad

Cat urine offends your nostrils in a way that almost burns the senses. But why is this?

Cat urine contains uric acid, a waste product found in blood. The kidneys filter uric acid out of the blood and it’s eventually eliminated through the urine.

When cat urine lingers, the bacteria in the urine decomposes, producing the foul-smelling ammonia scent that makes everyone want to plug their noses. Cat urine is a bit more concentrated than human urine or dog urine, which only amplifies the smell.

What’s worse is that the smell is more potent with unneutered male cats from extra testosterone in the body. Older cats or cats with kidney issues can also produce a foul urine scent.

We love our cats, but, obviously, no one wants their house smelling like ammonia. Truthfully, the cat urine smell is difficult to remove, but it’s not impossible. Let’s cut to the chase and talk about how to remove the scent.

grey cat peed in bed
Photo Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

What You Will Need

Most of these items you should have in your house already. If you don’t, no problem. They’re not expensive, and some are optional.  materials:

Here’s your list of cleaning

Normally the Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover is optional for cleaning up messes, but it’s a must-have for cat urine. We’ll explain more in detail below.

How to Remove Cat Urine Smell: 5 Simple Steps

There are some products you want to avoid when you clean up cat urine. These products will only enhance the urine smell, which is clearly a step in the wrong direction. As long as you avoid these products, you should be good to go.

  • Use a steam cleaner
  • Use bleach
  • Use an ammonia-based product

1. Locate the Area

You might already know where the cat urine smell is coming from. If you don’t, start by cleaning the litter box. It’s crazy how intense the smell becomes when we don’t clean it, so start with cleaning the cat box to diminish the smell.

When you’re done, walk around your house and sniff around. This might be tough if you don’t have a good sense of smell or are used to the scent. Grab a buddy and see if someone else can find the smell.

If you locate cat pee on furniture, like a couch or mattress, check the tag for special instructions on cleaning it before proceeding.

2. Absorb the Urine With a Towel

Once you find cat pee, dab the area with a towel or paper towels if it’s still wet. Remove as much urine as possible. This will prevent the cat urine from soaking into the carpet and staining the floor.

Paper towels
Photo Credit: Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay

3. Rinse the Area

Your next step is to rinse the area. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. You can use warm water and a washcloth or make a simple cleaning solution with vinegar and dish soap. We recommend using the cleaning solution if the scent is pungent.

To make a DIY cat urine cleaning solution, mix about eight parts of warm water, one part of white vinegar, and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a container.

You’ll need to adjust this recipe depending on how much you need. Make sure you use a liquid dish soap that doesn’t contain bleach, so you don’t stain your seats.

Bonus Tip: If the stain has sat for some time, you can add some hydrogen peroxide to your solution.

4. Apply Your Enzymatic Cleaner

Enzymatic cleaners are products with enzymes in the formula to break down stains and odors effectively. You can use an enzymatic spray cleaner, but it won’t do much for a large amount of cat urine.

Instead, pour the enzymatic cleaner over the area and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Check your material labels to see if this is safe to do without damaging the fabric. Dab the area with a towel afterward or repeat if necessary.

For an extra deodorizer, you can add a layer of baking soda afterward and let it sit for 10 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Our favorite enzyme cleaner is the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray. It's our product, and we love it so much, we just have to share. It permanently removes the very worst smells and stains (yes, everything you can imagine!), and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! 

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5. Find the Cause

Cats always have a good reason for urinating outside the litter box, and it’s our job to do some investigating and find the root cause.

It’s a good idea to take your cat to the vet to rule out medical concerns like a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes. Older or obese cats are prone to joint issues, so ensure that your cat has easy access to the litter box.

Sometimes the litter box is in an area with high foot traffic, or maybe something scared your cat away from the litter box. Other times, it could be the litter you’re using. Try new cat litters and move the litter box to a different area.

a female veterinarian with cat
Image Credit: Tom Wang, Shutterstock

How Long Does It Take For the Smell to Fade?

Unfortunately, cat urine odor can linger for a while, depending on the material your cat peed on. But if you clean the mess fast enough, the smell should fade over time.

Sometimes we don’t get to a pet mess promptly, so you might have to cleanse the area a few times before the smell vanishes completely.

If the urine odor doesn’t leave your carpet despite your best efforts, you might have to replace the carpet altogether. But look at it this way—now you have a reason to redecorate!

Keeping Your Cat Away From the Stain

Put a litter box in the area where your cat keeps peeing. Doing so encourages them to use the litter box and not pee on the furniture or floor. Move the litter box closer to the appropriate area each day.

You can also apply a non-toxic scent, like citrus, mints, and other intense herb aromas. This will help cover up the urine smell, but it won’t remove it completely. It can deter your cat from peeing in that spot again.

Cats don’t like walking on certain textures, such as sticky tape or aluminum foil, so try placing these items on the soiled area.

Consider using a pressurized cat spray if your cat likes to urinate in a specific area. A pressurized cat spray uses motion-activated infrared to track movement. The can sprays anytime your cat walks close to the forbidden area.

We know it’s hard keeping your cool when you find cat urine in the house, but lashing out at your cat just makes your kitty scared of you, and they will likely return to the same spot anyway.


Dealing with cat urine is beyond stressful. Cats may have their reasons for urinating outside of the litter box, but that does not take away the frustration of cleaning up the mess. You are not alone!

Try applying the steps above to your situation and see if it works. Remember to use an enzymatic cleaner since this will offer the best results for removing tough stains and odors.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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