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How To Clean Cat Urine - Step By Step Instructions

Table of contents

Choosing a urine odour remover   Locating cat urine   Why does cat urine smell so bad?   Homemade cat urine remover recipes   Removing cat urine from carpets   Removing cat urine from upholstery   What not to clean cat urine with   Preventing cat urine/spraying recurring  

Why does cat urine smell so bad?

Cats originated as desert dwelling animals and don't consume as much water as other mammals, this results in the cat's urine being more concentrated and the more concentrated, the stronger the urine will smell.

Along with that, the urine of entire (un-neutered) male cats contains hormones which make the urine smell much stronger than that of females or neutered males. These hormones serve a purpose, they enable the tom to mark his territory, attracting females and deterring any possible competing males.

As cat urine dries, bacteria break it down forming ammonia substances making the odour even more unpleasant. To avoid this, cat urine should be cleaned as quickly as possible before it begins to break down.

Choosing a pet urine odour remover:

urine removerWhen looking for a product to remove cat urine and odours, the enzymatic cleaners are the best. They break down compounds in the cat odour, which is what attracts your cat to keep returning to the same spot. Most pet stores sell these products.

Cat urine odours can also be removed cheaply and effectively with common household items such as white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide.


Locating cat urine:

black lightThe simplest method is to locate cat urine stains, which can be done with the use of a black fluorescent light.  Stains appear on furniture, walls, or carpet as a yellow splatter or spot.  Black lights can be purchased cheaply from pet stores or eBay.



Homemade urine removers:

White vinegar odour remover:

  • 100ml white vinegar

  • 200ml warm water

Place ingredients in a plastic spray bottle and shake well.

Remove as much urine/spray as you can using paper towels. Mist the vinegar solution over areas of cat urine and rub with a paper towel.  An alternative method is to mix the solution in a bucket and dip a clean cloth into the liquid.  Rub the stain with the vinegar solution.  After the vinegar dries, wipe away both solution and stain with warm water.

Hydrogen peroxide odour remover:

  • 5.5oz (220ml) hydrogen peroxide

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • 1 squirt liquid hand soap

Place ingredients in a plastic container and mix well with a plastic or wooden spoon. Apply the solution to cat urine stain, then rinse well with warm water.


Many cat owners and breeders use in Australia with great success is Bio-Zet, which is an enzymatic clothes laundry detergent. If you have washable cushions or the cat has urinated on your clothes this is a product you may want to try also.

Removing urine from carpets:

  • Remove as much of the urine as possible by blotting the stain or wet area with paper towels.  Don't rub the area as you will push the urine further into the carpet. If the stain has already dried, moisten with warm water before beginning the stain removal process.

  • Lay additional paper towels over the stain and gently press to absorb as much of the moisture as possible. Repeat several times until you have removed most of the urine.

  • Apply any stain and odour removal product.

  • For best results, choose a bacterial/enzyme cleaner that will remove all parts of the urine stain as well as the odour. 

  • Rinse with warm water, and dry. 

Removing urine from upholstery:

  • Blot stain with a paper towel and sponge with cold water. 

  • Blot away any excess moisture and clean the area with a solution made with two cups warm water and one tablespoon vinegar. 

  • Apply a stain and odour remover that is a bacterial/enzyme cleaner.

What not to clean urine with:

Ammonia based products should be avoided at all costs. Cat urine contains ammonia, and cleaning urine with an ammonia product will just encourage your cat to return to the area.

Preventing cat urine/spraying reoccurring:

If cat odour urine is a frequent problem, cat owners should take steps to prevent future recurrences.  First, have the cat checked by a veterinarian who can identify any medical reason for urinating outside the litter tray or spraying.  If medical causes are ruled out, there are several things that can minimise and prevent urine incidents. 

  • If possible, place litter boxes where the cat has been urinating. 

  • Cats are sometimes stressed by outside events.  If it seems that the cat is spraying in response to outside stimuli such as other cats or animals, block the view.  Another option is to confine the cat to a clean area with a fresh litter box, water, and food.  This should teach the cat that he or she is not to urinate on carpets or furniture.  Praise the cat when urination takes place in the litter box.

  • If cats use potted plants as a litter box, place a few pine cones or orange peel on top of the soil.  Cats should avoid the plant if these scents are in place. You can also purchase cat deterrent sprays from your local pet shop which may be of use preventing your cat re-offending.

  • Make sure you have the right sized litter tray. A tiny tray for a large cat is not going to work.

  • Clean the litter tray(s) daily. The rule of thumb is one tray per cat, plus one spare. No cat wants to go to the toilet in a dirty litter tray and they will find an alternate spot to go to the toilet.

  • Cats are extremely clean animals and don't like using dirty litter trays. You should have one tray per cat, plus one spare. So if you have three cats, you should have four trays. They should be scooped out at least once a day (I scoop twice a day, morning and night), and completely emptied and disinfected at least once a week.

  • Desex your cat. Entire cats are more likely to spray than altered ones.

Cat Litter Trays - Finding The Right One

By the end of this article, you should have gained enough new knowledge on this subject to feel like a pro. Household pet cats definitely need litter boxes in which they do their business. Just like people, these feline friends can get finicky over this matter, so it is very important that they make sure the litter box they have for their pet cat suits the cats preferences; after all, it is the cat that is going to use it. But the owner should also consider his own convenience regarding this matter; he should consider his budget for the cat box as well as the ease of cleaning it.

Choosing the perfect cat box can be beneficial to both your cat's health as well as the owners. The important thing is that the cat box must be appealing to the cat and comfortable for use. Rest assured, the cat's satisfaction also guarantees success.

In finding the perfect cat box, here are some things that must be considered:

Size and Depth

This may be determined by the number of cats there are in the home. However, it is ideal if the number of cats in the home determines the number of cat boxes available rather than the size. For kittens, shallow cat boxes, no more than three inches deep are advisable. For adult cats, on the other hand, those about six inches high are desirable. The prescribed area of the litter box is at least 24 inches in length or width.

Material of the box

Heavy and durable plastic is the most advisable material for a cat box and is also the most inexpensive variety in stores. Plus with their simplicity in style, cleaning can prove to be a breeze.

Ease of cleaning

Basic flat boxes are easy to clean because of their simple design. There is no need to remove any lids or covers to scoop or clean. However, some cats frequently kick litter out of the box so if you choose this option, you had better have a whisk broom and a dustpan always at hand.

Covered boxes usually minimise the trouble of having cat litter and waste scattered outside the box since they have hoods which keep all the litter inside. Covered boxes also tend to become stinky due to poor ventilation.

There are also those self-cleaning cat boxes available in the market. The self-cleaning feature of these boxes keep the cat box neat and tidy, but they also require some cleaning from the owner. Every few days the receptacle must be emptied of urine and faeces and sometimes the rake does not get every bit of cat waste so there may be an occasional need for scooping them out.

Types of litter tray

There are a wide variety of designs, styles and features for cat litter boxes. The owner may have to choose which one will be most convenient for him and his cat.

Below are listed some basic designs for cat litter boxes:

  • Basic flat box. This is the simple rectangular pan which is commonly made of plastic. They come in different depths, sizes and colours. This design is preferred by most cats. An innovation to this design whose is to hold the cat box liners in place by securing them under the rim.

  • Covered cat boxes or hooded litter boxes. These cat litter boxes look like the traditional open-type rectangular pans except for the addition of the hood which partly covers the box. An opening is situated at one end of the box which serves as the entrance and exit way for the cat. The hood is also positioned high enough so that the cat can stand and do its job with ease and comfort. While they provide "privacy" for the pet, they tend to get very smelly because of poor ventilation inside. Manufacturers of this type of cat boxes have offered a solution to this problem. Some variants of the hooded type have vents on top plus a filter which aids in trapping odours. For this type of cat box, it is recommended that you choose one that is large enough to accommodate the pet, has a hood which can be easily manoeuvred for easy cleaning, and large vents.

  • Designer boxes. Also known as "hidden boxes", this type of litter box disguises itself as a furniture piece or even a plant. A designer litter box not only serves to be the cat's convenient toilet but it can also function as an accent for the room in which it is located. Although the containers are commonly not large enough, there are designs which are big and more open.  Try to find one which provides good ventilation.

  • Sifting Boxes. A few other variants of this type are available in the market but the basic model consists of two rectangular pans and a tray which acts as a sifter.

  • Self-cleaning box. These electrical-powered high-end litter boxes work with a sensor which activates the self-cleaning machinery a few minutes after the cat has left the box. The cleaning machinery contains a rake which works its way along the litter to scoop out cat pee and poop into a waste receptacle. There is still the need to occasionally clean the unit, especially the cleaning mechanism itself.


The basic flat box is the most affordable of all the designs mentioned. The self-cleaning box is obviously the most expensive and their guarantee commonly lasts for only one year. This can be a risk which the owner must consider before actually buying a unit.

Appealing to the cat:

Cats generally do fine with the open box type. Covered boxes offer the "privacy" which some cats like but some cats feel trapped inside them. Owners of designer boxes may find it attractive to put them in places where they will be most appreciated. However, they must be sensitive to the fact that cats most often opt to do their business in a place which is quiet and safe. As for the automated self-cleaning cat litter boxes, some finicky cats may find them comfy since they are clean and spacious. However, they may get psyched out by the mechanical action if they chance to see it actually happen. They might be afraid of using the unit again.

Finding the perfect cat litter box may be a hard task and may require experimentation on the part of the owner. If the owner tries out a box which his pet really does not like, he should not insist on the cat using it. Though this experimentation may become tedious, it can be necessary to find the perfect box for your cat. Providing the cat its preferred litter box can bring good health and satisfaction to both owner and pet, and the carpet as well! We hope that you finished reading this article having learned at least a little bit of new information. If so, then we have done our job.

Related topics:

Common causes of litter tray refusal


Toilet Training Your Kitten - Hints and Tips

Toilet training a kitten

Cats are fastidious by nature and in my experience, require little work on the way of toilet training as most kittens are already litter trained by the time they come to their new home. Their mother plays a large role in this, training her kittens from an early age.

Starting on the right foot with your kitten is by far the best practice. Preventing bad habits developing will save you both a lot of anxiety. Ways to help encourage litter tray usage include:

  • Providing your kitten with an appropriately sized litter tray. Kittens are small, and should be started with a smaller tray with lower sides, making it easier to climb in and out of.

  • When your kitten comes home, keep him confined to just one or two rooms for a few days so he is not overwhelmed. Keeping the litter tray close by will help reinforce good toileting habits.

  • Don't place litter trays in either very high traffic areas or hard to find spots. It should be placed close to his bed, so he can easily find it when he's woken from a sleep. Never place food bowls close to your kitten's food. They don't like to toilet where they eat.

  • Immediately after your kitten has eaten or had a nap, place him in the litter tray to encourage him to use the toilet.

  • If your kitten does have an accident, do not punish him. This will have the opposite effect and will lead to further toileting issues down the track.

  • In the event of an accident, clean the area well with white vinegar. Ammonia based products should never be used as they will encourage your kitten to go back to the spot.

  • Make sure you clean out your kitten's litter tray frequently. Read here for more information on cleaning litter trays.

Choosing the right litter for your kitten:

It is always a good idea to stick to the litter your kitten was using when he lived with his mother. If you would prefer to change to a different "type" of litter (for example from clay to crystals), do this gradually, over a few days by mixing in the new litter with the old. There are several types of cat litter including clay, clumping, crystals and recycled wood/paper pellets. Clumping litter should be avoided with kittens as they may eat it, which can lead to a blockage.


With a little forethought, litter training your kitten should be a relatively easy process for both you and the kitten. Avoiding common mistakes will go a long way.

Related articles:

Choosing a litter tray   Types of cat litter

Cat Toilet Training

toilet training a catBy the time most kittens leave their mother and come to live with their new family they have already been toilet trained-making life easy for the new carer(s). Mother cats train their kitten's proper toileting habits, however, sometimes it will be necessary to train your new kitten or cat how to use the litter tray. This may be the result of the kitten being orphaned or taken away from his mother too early.

What you will need:

  • Litter tray
  • Cat litter
  • Litter scoop

Which type of litter tray?

This depends on the cat. If you are training a young kitten then a smallish tray with low sides is best to start off with. If you are training an older cat then a larger tray will be necessary. Cat trays come in an array of shapes and sizes. Some covered, some with a lip, making it harder for the litter to be kicked out, some built into furniture, self-cleaning. The choices are endless. With a kitten, I always prefer to use a small, basic litter tray with low sides that your kitten can easily climb in and out of.

Some types of cat litter:

  • Clay
  • Clumping
  • Crystals
  • Recycled paper

It is not advised that you use clumping litter with kittens.

How to toilet train your cat:

Confine your kitten to a small area such as the laundry. Cats are fastidiously clean and by nature, bury their urine and faeces. So, if you provide your cat with a litter tray, and some fresh, clean cat litter and no other possible places to go to the toilet such as a pot plant, then the chances are your cat will take to the litter tray immediately.

After a meal or a nap, pick up your kitten and place it in the litter tray. Take his paw and gently scratch the cat litter with it.

If you see your kitten sniffing and beginning to dig in a corner, immediately pick him up and place him in the litter tray, again gently take the paw and scratch the litter with it. When the cat follows through and eliminates in the litter tray, give lots of praise.

Where to place the litter tray:

Cats like privacy, so make sure you place the litter tray in a quiet and private spot. They also don't like toileting near their food bowls.

How many litter trays do I need?

The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. So, if you have one cat, you will need two litter boxes, if you have two cats you will need three litter boxes etc. Some people get by with fewer litter boxes, but this is the general rule of thumb to go by.

How often should I clean the litter tray?

Cats are fastidiously clean animals, and it is of great importance to make sure their litter trays are scooped at least once a day and regularly changed. Failure to do so may result in your cat refusing to use the litter tray. Put yourself in your cat's shoes, would you like to use a filthy toilet?


Never punish a cat who has had an accident, this will not teach him to use the litter box, it will, however, teach him to fear you.

When cleaning up accidents, be careful which product you use. Anything with ammonia in it will encourage your cat to return to the spot. Enzymatic cleaners such as Bio-Zet (available in Australia) are safer to use. Pet shops and veterinarians will also be able to supply you with various products which not only clean up cat waste but also eliminate the smell too. If the smell isn't eliminated your cat will quite likely continue to return to the same spot.

Related articles:

How To Clean Litter Trays   Choosing The Right Cat Litter

Inappropriate Urination In Cats

Cats are very clean animals by nature, so when your cat starts urinating outside the litter box, this is usually a sign that there is something wrong with either the cat or the litter box.

The first thing you should do is take your cat to the vet to rule out a physical problem such as feline diabetes, FLUTD and old age. Once the physical is ruled out then it's time to look at what is causing your cat to urinate outside of the litter tray.

Is my cat spraying or urinating?

It's important to distinguish between inappropriate urinating and spraying.

When a cat urinates it squats down when it sprays it generally stands upright and sprays against a vertical surface such as a wall or sofa.

Causes of inappropriate urination in cats:

Litter tray:

The first explanation is that the litter box is not being cleaned frequently enough.  Remember that a cat's sense of smell is about one thousand times greater than our own. Cats will not want to go near a litter box that smells offensive any more than we would want to use a filthy toilet. The litter box should be scooped out at least once a day and cleaned with soap and hot water at least once a week for a house with one cat. Do not use strong-smelling detergents that may be too harsh on a cat's nose.  Rinsing with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water followed by air drying will help kill odour causing bacteria.   Houses with multiple cats should have multiple litter boxes. A general rule of thumb is one litter tray per cat. Placement of the litter tray is also important. Just as humans like privacy, so do cats. Placing the litter tray in a busy area may result in your cat's refusal to use the litter tray. Also, some cats will enjoy the privacy of a fully covered litter tray, while this may be too confining for other cats. Generally, I prefer to have a combination of both trays to suit my cat's different preferences.

Another thing to remember is that cats do not like to go to the toilet near where they eat. So make sure the litter box is placed far from your cat's food and water.


Stress is another major cause of inappropriate urination in cats. Factors causing stress in cats can be moving house, the introduction of a new family member (pet or human), a neighbour's cat roaming your garden etc. Helping your cat overcome these stresses may well result in the inappropriate urination stopping, however, this isn't always the case. Sometimes the behaviour can become so ingrained in the cat that even once the stress has been removed, the behaviour continues. If this is the case it is a good idea to seek advice from your veterinarian as to how to re-train your cat. Some cat owners have had great success using Rescue Remedy on their cats, although this isn't advisable until you have spoken to your vet.

Of course, there are other reasons that a cat may urinate in an improper place.  ''Spraying'' when a cat sprays urine on a vertical surface, is a way that cats communicate with other cats.  What they are essentially doing is marking their territory.  Therefore it is very important to clean these 'marked' areas properly with an enzymatic cleaner that will remove every trace of urine scent (see our article on removing cat urine odours).  Cats will continue to spray over areas that have already been marked with urine.  This marking behaviour is found most common in male cats, although female cats have been known to spray also. Neutering your cat should greatly reduce the spraying problem.  You may also want to use a spray-on cat repellent in the areas most frequently marked by your cat.


Declawing sometimes leads to refusal to use a litter box. Often the cat's paws are tender and scratching around in cat litter can lead to pain and discomfort. In this case, it is advisable to find a softer litter which is less harsh on your cat's feet.

Medical problems:

There are several conditions that can lead to inappropriate urination in cats. These include;

How to deal with a cat urinating inappropriately:

If you do catch your cat urinating in an inappropriate spot quickly move the cat and gently place him in the litter tray. Never use physical punishment on your cat, this will make your cat afraid of you and may well make the behaviour worse as it will stress the cat further.

Confining your cat to a small room such as the laundry can often help matters. Once your cat is using the litter tray, gradually increase the area.

Make sure litter trays are cleaned regularly and there are enough trays for the number of cats. As a rule of thumb, you should have one tray per cat, plus one tray extra. So, if you have two cats, you should have three trays. Although understandably not every home can accommodate lots of trays. If you are limited in how many trays you can have, make sure you remove solids and urine several times a day, and fully empty/disinfect at least once a week.


Please bear in mind that as the cat ages the frequency of inappropriate urination may increase. Conditions such as arthritis may make it painful to enter and exit the litter tray, especially if it has high sides. Poor eyesight, dementia and incontinence may also be contributing factors. Again, if it is always best to seek advice from your veterinarian on these matters as he/she will be able to best advise you on how to help your cat in old age.

Also see:

How to clean a litter box

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