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How to Find That Cat Pee Smell

Kit Arbuckle
Oct. 26, 2015

Where is that cat pee smell coming from? Cats can pee in the most unlikely places. Locate the cat urine odor in your home with these top tips.

No matter how much you love your feline friend, there is no denying that cleaning up after him isn't the most pleasant job. Cats have a reputation for being fastidious, but they can cause some pretty funky odors, especially when they have accidents outside the litter box. Cat pee smell isn't something you want lingering in your home, that's for sure!

According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, there are varied reasons why your cat might be thinking outside the box. Sometimes cats (especially ones who aren't spayed or neutered) will spray in the house, or have the occasional accident due to sickness, like a urinary tract infection. Your cat might have a problem sharing a litter box with other cats or not like the kind of litter you use. Or maybe -- just because she is a cat, and cats do weird things -- she prefers hanging out in the litter box to actually using it.

Whatever the reason your cat has been going outside of the box, you'll need to locate the places where she's peeing to get rid of the cat urine odor.

Sniff It Out
If you can still smell cat urine after cleaning the litter box, it's likely your cat peed somewhere else. Sometimes finding where your cat peed is as easy -- and gross -- as sniffing it out. Try to identify the room the smell is coming from and check in the most likely places first. Planters are a favorite because of the soil in them.

A cat might also urinate in corners, on carpets, on a sofa or on beds. It's harder to find places where a cat sprays, however, since it can be a small amount and on vertical surfaces like walls and the backs of furniture. If you can pin the odor down to a rug or sofa cushion, that should be enough. You'll probably want to clean the whole thing anyway, just to be safe.

Look for Stains
Obviously, this will be more effective if your furniture and carpeting are made of lighter, more absorbent materials, but you should check for discoloration where it smells. Don't forget to check behind and under furniture and on walls. Puddles are obvious signs a cat is peeing in a certain area, and there might be some older stains there, too.

You can also use a pet urine detector, a special UV black light flashlight. Turn off the lights and make sure the room is fairly dark for best results. Walk around the room sweeping the light over all surfaces the cat can reach (and since we can never fully demystify our feline friends or the limits of their powers, check some places you assume they can't). Go slowly and be thorough. If you see any glowing spots, it might be the source of the smell. The lights only work on dried pee, and other stains will show, too.

If you suspect the glowing spots you see are the source of your odor problem, read How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell for cleaning tips.

Kit Arbuckle works as a freelance writer covering parenting, education, health and pet care topics.
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