Got Cat Pee Smell in Your Home? Here’s How to Find and Remove It

Recognizing Cat Spraying

It’s important to understand the difference between cat spraying and cat peeing. Spraying and peeing have distinct differences:

Cat pee occurs when a cat squats and urinates on a horizontal surface. Cat spray occurs when a cat backs up to a vertical surface like a wall while standing and releases a stream of urine. Spraying results in urine splatters on walls, furniture, and other vertical areas [1].

Some signs your cat is spraying include [2]:

  • Strong urine odor in certain areas
  • Urine splatters on walls, furniture, curtains, etc.
  • Urine aimed at windows, doors, new objects, or scents

Figuring out if your cat is spraying or peeing will help you address the behavior appropriately.

Why Cats Spray

Territorial marking is one of the main reasons cats spray urine in your home. According to the Blue Cross, spraying is usually caused when a cat feels threatened or stressed. Marking their territory makes them feel more secure (source).

Spraying can also be a sign of stress or anxiety. Major changes in your cat’s environment, new people or animals in the home, or medical issues may trigger stress that leads to spraying. Reducing stressors and providing a stable, comforting environment can help (source).

Unneutered male cats and unspayed female cats are the most likely to spray urine. Intact male cats in particular use spraying to mark their territory and attract mates. Neutering or spaying your cat can greatly reduce this behavior.

Preventing Spraying

One of the most effective ways to prevent spraying is to have your cat spayed or neutered. Spaying females before their first heat cycle greatly reduces the likelihood of spraying. Neutering males also decreases the urge to spray. According to the ASPCA, an estimated 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayed females will continue to spray.

Reducing stress and anxiety can also curb spraying behaviors. Environmental changes, new pets, conflicts with other cats, or inadequate enrichment can cause a cat to spray. Try to minimize changes and make your cat’s routine as predictable as possible. Also provide plenty of vertical space, scratching posts, toys, and daily playtime. Feliway diffusers can help reduce stress.

Thoroughly cleaning soiled areas is crucial to prevent repeat incidents. Use an enzymatic cleaner designed for pet messes to fully eliminate odors. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners, as the smell can encourage spraying. After cleaning, apply repellents like citrus or perfume oils on target surfaces.

Block access to previous spray sites by covering furniture or using motion-activated deterrents. Place foil, double-sided sticky tape, or upside-down vinyl carpet runners on horizontal surfaces. Install plastic shields or inserts on vertical targets. Keep cats away from windows and doors where they may be triggered by outdoor animals.


Finding All Spray Areas

Finding all the areas where your cat has sprayed urine can be tricky, since the stains and odor may not be immediately obvious. Here are some tips to locate all the spray zones in your home:

Use a flashlight to systematically scan walls, floors, furniture and other surfaces at cat height. The flashlight can catch stains that are difficult to see in ambient light. Check behind and under furniture too (1).

Use a blacklight to detect dried urine stains. The properties in urine will fluoresce under the blacklight, making even old stains light up. Blacklights designed for pet urine are available at many pet stores and online retailers (2).

Smell for any urine odor around baseboards, carpets, furniture and other hidden areas that cats may target. Even faint whiffs can indicate spray zones. Where there’s odor, there may be more spray that’s not visible (3).

Being meticulous and thorough is key to finding all the spray spots your cat has marked. The more you locate now, the more effectively you can clean and stop the behavior.

Cleaning Cat Spray

To effectively clean cat spray, it’s important to use the right cleaning solutions. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as the ammonia scent may encourage your cat to spray again on the same spot. Instead, use an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed to break down pet urine. Enzymatic cleaners contain bacteria that digest and neutralize the odor.

Start by blotting up as much of the urine as possible with paper towels. For fresh stains on carpet or upholstery, dab the area with a cloth or paper towels to absorb excess liquid. On walls or other vertical surfaces, let gravity help and allow the urine to drip down before blotting.

Next, generously spray or apply the enzymatic cleaner directly onto the soiled area. Let it sit and work for at least 10-15 minutes before wiping with clean paper towels. This allows time for the active enzymes to fully break down the urine compounds. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing, as this can spread the stain deeper. After blotting, repeat the process if any odor remains. Allow the area to fully dry before assessing if additional applications are needed.URL

For dried or set-in stains and smells, repeat this cleaning process multiple times over a few days. Thorough enzyme cleaning is key to fully removing cat spray odors and discouraging repeat marking.

Odor Removal Tips

The smell of cat urine and spray can be very difficult to remove. Here are some effective odor removal tips:

Ventilate the room by opening windows or using fans. This will help air out the smell. You can also place bowls of vinegar around the room to help absorb odors.

Use an enzyme cleaner or mix a solution of one part vinegar to one part water to clean the area. This will help break down the compounds in cat urine that cause odors. Allow the area to dry completely after cleaning.

Baking soda can be sprinkled on carpets, furniture, and other fabrics to help absorb odors. Let it sit for several hours before vacuuming it up.

Replace soiled carpets, cushions, or other fabrics if the odor remains after cleaning. The smell can often persist in fabric fibers.

Odor absorbing gels or bags containing activated charcoal or zeolite can help remove odors from the air. Place them near sprayed areas.

Consider consulting a professional carpet cleaner if the smell lingers in carpets. They have powerful cleaners and tools to remove embedded urine odors.

With time and repeated cleaning, cat spray odors can be eliminated. Be patient and persistent in your efforts.

Blocking Spray Sites

Once you’ve identified the specific areas your cat likes to spray, you can take steps to block their access and deter them from returning. Here are some effective tactics:

Place furniture or large leafy plants in front of the area to serve as an obstacle. Cats don’t like to spray into an obstructed space. You can also try covering vertical surfaces with plastic, tin foil, double-sided sticky tape, or upside-down vinyl carpet runner to make it unpleasant for cats to spray there.

Use citrus or mint scents to repel cats from a space. Try placing cotton balls soaked in lemon, orange, or peppermint oils around the area. You can also spray a citrus-scented cleaner or rub slices of citrus fruits onto surfaces. The strong scents overwhelm cats’ sensitive noses and make them avoid spraying there.

Consider using motion-activated devices to startle cats away when they go near a spraying area. Some devices emit compressed air bursts, loud high-pitched sounds, or ultrasonic frequencies when triggered. This can effectively frighten cats away and train them not to return. Just be sure the devices won’t scare your cat in other parts of your home.

Working With a Vet

If you have tried all of the environmental modifications and training but your cat continues to spray, it’s time to take your cat to the vet. There may be an underlying medical issue causing the spraying.

A urinalysis should be performed to check for signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), crystals, or other abnormalities. According to Preventive Vet, UTIs are a common medical cause of inappropriate urination and spraying in cats.

Your vet may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help relieve stress and curb spraying habits. Medication can be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.

If your cat is not already spayed or neutered, discuss this option with your vet. Intact cats are more likely to spray urine as a marking behavior and territorial display. Spaying or neutering your cat can reduce this urge to spray.

Rehoming a Cat

Rehoming a cat that continues to spray even after trying various solutions should be a last resort. Before considering rehoming, make sure the cat is spayed or neutered, as intact cats are more likely to spray. If the behavior persists even after fixing, here are some tips for responsibly rehoming a cat:

Look for a no-kill shelter or rescue organization in your area that can take in the cat. Responsible rescues will ensure the cat is healthy and evaluated behaviorally before being adopted out. Avoid “free to a good home” ads, as you can’t screen where the cat will end up. Check references thoroughly if rehoming directly to a new home.

When rehoming, provide background on the cat’s personality and needs, including the spraying issue, to avoid repeating the problem in a new home. Recommend trying pheromone diffusers and cleaning products in case the issue was environmental.

As a last loving act, consider keeping the cat yourself but designating a separate area with food, litter, bedding etc. to give your home some relief. Only if quality of life for both the cat and household is untenable should euthanasia be considered, after consulting a vet.

For more help rehoming a cat humanely, consult with a local rescue organization or veterinary behaviorist. With patience and care, your cat may still find a new loving home.


Cat spraying is a common issue that can be frustrating to deal with. The key is to thoroughly clean soiled areas to eliminate odors that may encourage repeat spraying. Also look for signs that differentiate spraying from urination, like spray markings on vertical surfaces.

Before considering rehoming your cat, try various prevention tips first, like adding more litter boxes and cleaning them frequently. Use deterrent sprays and block access to common spray zones. Consult your vet for advice catered to your cat’s specific issues. With patience and effort, spraying can often be significantly reduced or resolved.

The main takeaways are recognizing the signs of cat spraying, thoroughly cleaning soiled areas to remove odors, and trying prevention techniques before resorting to rehoming your cat. Address the underlying causes to help curb the spraying behavior.

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