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How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell for Good

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Getting rid of cat urine smell involves eliminating the odor-causing bacteria and mercaptans by properly using an enzyme cleaner. First, soak up as much liquid as possible. Then, saturate the spot with an enzyme cleaner, allowing the good enzymes to eat the bacteria causing the cat pee odor. Next, place a clean cloth over the area and let it sit for up to 24 hours. Repeat if necessary on tough or pre-existing stains. 

Read time: 5 minutes

Few things are as frustrating for cat parents as when your feline friend decides to pee outside the litter box. Not only does it create a lot of extra work, but that lingering cat urine smell can be really hard to get rid of.

Even worse is the fact that our cats can smell the faintest trace of cat urine (even if we don’t notice it), and it will actually draw them back to the same place to pee again.

The good news is that you can get rid of even dried urine stains and odors. The key is to clean up those messes properly.

Why Does Cat Pee Smell So Bad?

Cat pee is notorious for an ammonic, almost skunky smell that permeates everything. This is part of the biological decomposition process. As the bacteria begins to break down, it emits mercaptans, which are compounds that cause the pungent odor.

How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell on Wood Floors

Getting rid of the smell on your floor can be especially tricky if it’s wood because you don’t want to use a harsh cleaner that will damage the finish, but you need something that will penetrate a little bit to remove the cat urine odor—especially if you find a urine stain that’s been sitting for a while.

Ideally, you’d catch the accident early and wipe the cat urine up before it has time to set in. Then follow up with an enzyme cleaner specifically formulated for removing pet stains and odors. Enzyme cleaners are so great because they use enzymes and good bacteria to break pet messes down into plain old water and carbon dioxide.

Kinderbean No Stress Mess Eraser is an enzyme cleaner that uses only five natural ingredients to safely and completely break down any remaining cat urine. This not only eliminates any lingering cat pee smell but also prevents your kitty from returning to the scene of the crime.

Kinderbean Dog and Cat Urine Stain and Odor Eliminator
  • Completely removes pee, poop, and scoot stains from all your floor and furniture surfaces
  • Cleans leashes, collars, and pet bedding, too
  • Powerful bio-enzymatic cleaner made of a non-toxic blend of safe probiotics with no harsh chemicals or residue

First, using your Kinderbean No-Stress Mess Eraser, cover the area where the accident occurred. Let it sit for a few minutes to work its magic, then blot with a rag and let it air-dry. For sealed surfaces, leave it for up to 15 minutes but only five for non-sealed ones. This makes sure it has enough time to get into all the nooks and crannies—but not so long that your hardwood floor soaks it up!

One word of caution: If you’re using another brand of enzymatic cleaner, please read the directions carefully. Most cleaners are formulated for sealed wood floors. If your floors are untreated, you risk staining or damaging them further with many cleaning products. In some cases, it may be necessary to sand and refinish them.

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How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell on Tile

If there’s cat urine on a single nonporous tile, your job is easy. Just wipe it up with your favorite all-purpose cleaner. If it has seeped into the grout, though, that’s another story!

Even sealed grout will probably need to be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner. Remember, just because you don’t notice any cat urine odor doesn’t mean your feline can’t still smell it.

This product works for tile as well as wood floors. When choosing an enzyme cleaner for tile, make sure it won’t damage or stain non-sealed surfaces.

How to Get Cat Pee Smell Out of Carpet

If your cat pees outside of their litter box and on your carpet, the first thing you’ll want to do is soak up as much of the urine as possible. Use a clean cloth and blot until you’ve absorbed most of the cat urine. Make sure you put some pressure on the cloth, especially if your carpet is thick and plush. You might even want to step on the cloth to give it a little extra push.

Next, rinse the area with clean water and blot with a new cloth or use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the water. Avoid using anything that heats up (like a steam cleaner), since this could set the stain.

The next step is to use an enzymatic cleaner like Kinderbean No Stress Mess Eraser. First, pour a generous amount on the area you need to clean and gently rub it into the stain. You can use the bottom of the bottle to agitate the carpet and get the product absorbed. Then cover it with a clean, damp cloth for several hours or overnight. Finally, remove the cloth and let it air-dry.

No Stress Mess Eraser on Carpet

How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell in Cushions and Mattresses

Probably the last place you want your cat to have an accident is on your couch or pee on your bed. If it happens, though, don’t toss your mattress! Cleaning furniture is a similar process to cleaning carpets. It just takes a little longer to dry since cat urine penetrates so much deeper.

Start by blotting up as much of the urine as possible and cleaning the soiled area with water. Follow up with a good enzymatic cleaner from the Kinderbean brand. Pour on a good amount, let it sit for 10–15 minutes to allow the enzymes to work, and then blot the excess with a clean towel.

Cushions and mattresses will dry much more slowly than carpets. If the weather is nice, leave your cushions outside to dry. If you bring them inside before they’ve dried completely, cover them with a sheet of tin foil to discourage your kitty from jumping up and revisiting the area. You probably don’t want to drag your mattress outside, but you can lay down a towel to absorb any lingering moisture before you remake your bed. Then change the towel daily until the mattress is completely dry.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to completely remove the cat urine smell.

How to Get Cat Pee Smell Out of Clothes

You’re getting ready to do your laundry when you notice that all-too familiar smell on one of your favorite shirts. Yep, that’s cat urine!

First things first, don’t just throw the soiled clothes with your other clothes. Blot up as much pee as possible until it’s quite dry. Afterward, spray your enzymatic cleaner liberally onto the affected area and let it sit for 15 minutes or longer before washing. This’ll make it easier for you or your washing machine to do its job. 

After pretreatment, wash the clothes as you normally would. You may want to repeat this process for a particularly strong urine odor.

Does Cat Urine Odor Ever Go Away?

As long as the urine is cleaned properly with an enzyme cleaner, the smell will go away. Pet parents frequently ask this question, and I’ve seen so many articles incorrectly state the odor will never go away. Will it take some effort? Absolutely! And likely with repeated treatments.

But it’s important to understand how that the smell and stain can be treated because this directly affects our relationship with our cats. If we’re frustrated at the smell of cat urine in our house, it will make it more difficult to maintain a close bond with our cat. So don’t give up! You can get rid of the smell. 

What if your feline friend is frequently peeing outside their cat litter boxes even after you’ve cleaned up the mess properly?

How to Prevent Your Cat from Having an Accident in the House

A while back, my cat Olivia developed the unpleasant habit of going outside her litter box—usually on my brand-new bath mats. In her case, I was able to resolve the problem with a good enzymatic laundry pretreatment and a few tweaks to her litter box.

my cat peed on the bathmat
My cat, Olivia, started peeing on my brand new bath mats!

Usually, if your cat goes outside their litter box, she is trying to tell you something. A trip to the vet can rule out any medical issues, like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or other possible diseases common to older cats, that could contribute to accidents.

Once your cat has a clean bill of health, you’ll want to make sure that her litter box meets her needs. Dr. Liz Bales gives us some good litter box tips in this post. Otherwise, all the cleaning in the world probably won’t keep her from peeing where you don’t want her to.

If you think your cat could use a little extra convincing, my favorite cat litter, World’s Best Cat Litter, makes a litter especially for picky cats. It contains a safe plant-based ingredient that naturally attracts cats to the litter box. How great is that?

World's Best Cat Litter Good Habits Attractant Cat Litter
  • Infused with plant-based attractant to encourage your cat into the box
  • Naturally-absorbent corn eliminates nasty odors
  • 99% dust free, lightweight, quick clumping, and easy scooping
  • Made from whole-kernel corn, a renewable ingredient, with no harmful chemicals or artificial perfumes

Obviously, prevention is the best solution to a pesky cat pee problem, but even if your cat still has the occasional accident, the right cleaning routine will prevent it from becoming a habit.

cta check your cat's health with this free checklist

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Hey!
    I have 2 persian cats. One male and one female. Both are around 1 year and 3 months old.
    Recently my male cat started peeing outaide the litter box. To rule out any medical problems i took him to the vet and got his urine examined. The vet said that he had crystals in his urine. We got a sonography done and he had inflammation on his bladder and his kidneys. Before this he had a dental problem and had ulcers in his mouth due to which he was having medicines. Now because of the kindey proboems he has to be kept on medication for 2 months and has to drink alot of water. We have been very regular in giving him his medicines. He is not neutered.
    We started with the medication and for 3-4 days he was fine and we had to take him to his litter box. But after that he started peeing all over the house. He usually pees on the mats kept outside the washrooms in my house and has also peed once on my door mat. We wash the mats with lime based solutions and have thrown away most of the mats.
    We have given him vet prescribed diet food as well.
    Its as if he sometimes forgets where the litter is and goes all over the place looking for it. So then i have to take him to the litter box myself and then he pees.
    I have kept 2 litter boxes and tried keeping it in different places as well. He is active. He eats well and plays well too. However the only problem with him is that he is peeing all over the place.
    I would really like your help in resolving this issue.
    Thank you so much

    1. Hello Reehan,

      What a frustrating problem! Thanks for working so hard to keep your kitty healthy.

      About a year ago, I interviewed a veterinarian who specializes in feline behavior and I wrote an article about litter box tips. Cats are pretty finicky about their litter boxes, so if you make sure that you follow the tips in this article, I think it might solve your problem.

      Also, for those mats your cat is peeing on, try an enzymatic cleaner on the stains and odors. When you follow the directions carefully on the bottle, it works great! I even use it in my laundry to make sure I get all the odors out.

      I hope this is helpful. Keep me posted!

  2. I have moved into a home that once had many cats. The pee smell comes out of the old heat vents. I do not have access to the basement. What can I do?

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      Oh gosh, what a nightmare!

      Without knowing a lot about the situation, I’d say the smell is either from the cats peeing on the vents themselves or they peed into the vent getting the scent on the duct work inside.

      If it’s just on the vent, or on the underside of the vent itself, try using the enzymatic cleaner mentioned in the article to soak the vent. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and let it sit for 24 hours. That should eliminate the smell “IF” it’s just the vent that has the urine on it.

      If the smell is inside the duct work, I’m not sure how to advise you other than this — if you can get to it, soak it with that cleaner.

      I hope this is somewhat helpful! Let me know.

      1. Hi I have 3 cats. Their 3 litter boxes are in my basement and Are cleaned every day. My whole house smells like cat urine and I don’t know what to do about it. I mop the tile floor in the basement in case they go outside of the litter box but nothing seems to help. Any suggestions? I also have an air filter in my basement as well.

        1. Hi Beth,

          Cat pee smell is really hard to get rid of! Is it possible that one of them has gone somewhere else in the house and you haven’t found it? If so, the smell will linger until it is cleaned. If you can’t find an area where they may have gone in the house, I would be sure to clean the tile floor with an enzyme cleaner or a cleaner specifically to remove cat urine odor. I use this one and love it.

          I hope that this helps. The area by the box may need treated a few times before you get results. Good luck! Let me know how it goes.


    2. Oh no! That’s a tough problem. Without knowing if the urine is on the vent itself or inside the duct work, I’d say first, try to soak the vent (outside and inside if you can) wiht the enzymatic cleaner mentioned in this article. Put a moist cloth over it and let sit for 24 hours.

      If it’s in the duct work, and if you can get to it, soak that too with the cleaner.

      I hope this helps! Keep me posted.

  3. Someone who shall remain nameless left the car door open last night. Today, I got in early on before it got hot and thought it was the lingering smell of the dog from down the road that had rolled in cow muck the day before and who I‘d popped in the boot to drive home. This afternoon, after the car had sat in the sun at about 40°C for several hours, I can say for certain it is most definitely cat. Any suggestions? I’m hoping the heat won’t have baked the smell in permanently, but I’m realistic enough to know that actually, I’m probably going to have to sell the car to someone with no sense of smell…

    1. Hi Kathryn,

      Oh my! That sure is a frustrating problem! I would definitely try to clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner on the stains and odors. When you follow the directions carefully on the bottle, it works great! I even use it in my laundry to make sure I get all the odors out. This will be key in getting the odors out for good. Although, you may have to treat the area more than once for it to get all of the odor out.

      I hope this works for you! If not, keep me posted and I’ll think of something else!


  4. We have just purchased an old weatherboard farm house that had previously had many many cats living there and urinating throughout the house on the hardwood timber floors, walls and through the cracks in the floor. We plan on stripping everything back so aren’t worried about using harsh chemicals that might damage and otherwise polished wooden floor to remove the smell. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Courtney,
      Congrats on the purchase of your old farmhouse. How exciting! I would recommend you use a bio-enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly clean the soiled floors, walls and cracks. I swear by this one.

      Just be sure to thoroughly soak the soiled areas and let it sit for 1-2 days. You may have to reapply a could of times for the really bad areas.

      Let me know it goes!

  5. Our nephew was over and at some point closed the closet door, blocking access to the litter box. Our 13 year old cat Milo peed next to the litter box on the vinyl flooring and the smell still lingers. Which cleaner would you recommend for vinyl flooring/linoleum?

  6. I need help getting the smell of cat pee out of a bounce house I have tried many things and still have not found something that will take it out. I have 3 cats all together. they range in ages. the oldest is 12 and is and in door cat we have not had problems with her going anywhere but the litter box.
    the next one is about 6 and she is and outdoor cat most of the time other then when she wants to come in in the winter because of snow coming to her belly and we try to bring her in when the weather advises. when she wants out and we don’t want her to go out because it is to cold then she will go other places other then the litter boxes.
    The youngest is about a year and 3 months old and we have found that if the litter boxes aren’t emptied and new litter put in the boxes at least once a week and it has to be all of the litter boxes other wise we have found that she will go in to the basement to go to the bathroom. there are no litter boxes down there other then when our outdoor cat is in side because she doesn’t like to use the other cats litter boxes.
    What can I do to have the younger 2 cats stop peeing in my basement for good? And what can use to eliminate the cat smell for good from my basement and the bounce house that my kids love and all their cousin love.

    1. Hi Catmomof3!

      I think I can help you with both issues. Cleaning up the cat pee smell and preventing the 2 cats from peeing in the basement.

      First, it’s best to use an enzymatic cleaner because when it’s used properly (follow exact directions) then it literally breaks down the stain biologically so that it no longer exists. I use this product by Kinderbean.

      As for the cats peeing in the basement, can you add another litter box on the main floor for when the outdoor kitty comes inside from the cold? OR, place a litter box in the basement so she’ll go there instead of on the floor.

      Also, every cat is different, as you know. Your new kitty really prefers a clean box, so you may just have to add another litter box so she has her own or, just empty them and add new litter more often.

      Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet here, but I think if you follow the above you’ll be able to solve the problem. Let me know how it goes!

  7. I have a 7 year old female cat who marks in my house. She seems to be triggered by the cats she sees outside and sprays on objects as a result. Last evening she was frantically running from window to window to seek out the where abouts of one of the many neighborhood cats and turned and sprayed the table and desk lamp right in front of me!! I am so frustrated, I have considered euthanizing her. I love her very much and it would break my heart to do this but I am at my wits end. She is on a special prescription stress diet Hill’s C/D Multicare Stress) which costs a fortune and I also have tried Jackson Galaxy holistic wellness solutions. She has sprayed my curtains, carpets, furniture, walls, floors, books, suitcases, kitchen counter tops, clean laundry, bedding, computer, etc., etc. I clean up immediately with a enzyme cleaner where I can if I find/smell it, but am sure she has marked places I am unaware of. What can I do to help her and me as well? She is very dear to me, but can’t continue to live this way.

    1. Hi Judy,
      This is such a frustrating issue! There are MANY options that do not include euthanizing her! I would definitely ask you to not consider euthanizing her! Is she spayed? That could help this issue. It sounds like it could be stress related. When she sees another cat that could cause her stress and she could be trying to establish dominance by marking her territory. Enzyme cleaner definitely helps, and be sure to follow the instructions exactly as they are on the bottle to completely get rid of the scent! I would also recommend finding a veterinary behaviorist. They are trained in vet behavior and can help redirect this issue plus they are often not more expensive than taking her to a vet! Please keep me posted!


      1. Thank you Kristine for reponding to my email. I could not find a vet behaviorist within 250 miles of my home, but I did put my cat on Zylkene 75mg. I hope it is safe to use daily, long term. She has been on it for approximately 3 weeks. I mix it in a little yogurt to be sure she eats it. She does seem calmer, but also sleeps much more. I don’t think she has sprayed in the house recently, so have my fingers crossed.

        1. Hi Judy,
          I have used Zylkene with the direction of my vet longterm without issues, but it is always best to check with your vet! I hope that this helps to solve her spraying! I am glad to hear she feels calmer. Keep me posted!

          1. Kristine, just getting back to you on how my cay is doing having been on Zylkene daily since end of Sept. 2020. No spraying in the house that I know of. She is not quite so frantic when she sees another cat outside, but it is also winter, so not so many cats prowling the neighborhood to trigger her. Because she seemed to be sleeping so much more, I elected to reduce her dose by 1/2 daily. May have to up her dose in the spring when the cat activity increases, but for now am grateful for the improvement. Makes since that reducing her anxiety reduced her need to spray in my house to try and claim her territory and calm herself. Fingers crossed.

          2. Hi Judy,

            It is great that you are seeing some improvement! It sounds like it is working well for you. Thanks for the update!


  8. I just bought a condo and it smells like cat peee. It’s laminate floors and title in the bathroom (no carpet anywhere) and the girls that lived there before me did not have cats. What can I do – I have no idea where this smell is coming from but it’s strong?



    1. Hi Bree,

      Gosh that is challenging. Did the owners before your previous owners have cats? It’s hard to determine a solution if you don’t know where the smell is coming from. Is there a centralized spot in the condo where the smell is coming from? If so, try cleaning it really well with an enzyme cleaner. I like this one</a.

      Potentially, if one of your neighbors who share a wall with you has or had a cat, that could be where the smell is originating. Perhaps it is worth checking on that?

      I hope this helps! Please keep me posted.


  9. My female cat has always peed outside her box in the weirdest areas. She pees behind my basement door, Up top of my stairs, in my dining room along the walls. I cannot keep bath mats whatsoever in my house because my cat will pee on them. I have to pick up clothes and towels right away in the bathroom because she will pee on them. She is fixed, I got her from the spca when she was one. She is now 6. She has been doing this for years now. There were times I thought I would have it under control but then she would start again. Its driving me insane because I dont want to get rid of her but I rent my place and I may have to.

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