New home, old cat smell, HALP!

April 26 |
I waz in yer house, stinking up your kitchen. By: Eva ProkopCC BY 2.0
So my husband and I bought a house! But one thing that I noticed in this glorious house is that right when you walk into the kitchen there is this smell. And it's definitely of the feline species. However, we don't own any cats. (I mean, if our new house is going to smell like a cat it's going to be because we have one, and not an invisible one!)

The countertops are butcher block and the floors are hard wood. The only other areas of the kitchen that we could think of would be the brick that's exposed near the fridge, but could brick even retain a scent like that? We can't pinpoint exactly where the smell is coming from other than the fact that we're 100% positive it's in the kitchen SOMEWHERE.

So here's the question: How do you remove this smell, especially when you can't pinpoint the exact location that it's coming from? We don't particularly care for harsh chemicals, but wouldn't totally oppose them to get rid of this smell. -Raven6619

  1. http://www.catsofaustralia.com/urinestainremoval.htm

    Maybe a good all over cleaning will help. I've used this on carpet, clothes, and adapted it for our linoleum floors as well. It's the best solution I've come across so far while tackling my cat's need to pee on ALL THE THINGS. Depending on the smell though you might want to go with straight up vinegar. IN general I find vinegar to be great at negating odors and baking soda's the cherry on top. Chances are the cat smell is coming from a corner in the floor or maybe inside a cabinet.

    (Also, if the counter-tops are butcher block they'll probably need to be rubbed down in oil once you've cleaned.)

    Good luck!

    2 agree
  2. Cat pee glows in black light (So do other bodily fluids) This could help you pinpoint the source of the odor. Remember to look at cat height, walls and things about the level of a standing cat's behind are the most likely places. Then try an enzymatic pet odor remover, you can buy this at just about any pet store out there. If that doesn't work you can try scrubbing it down with a paste of baking soda and water OR straight up white vinegar.

    19 agree
    • I can totally speak to the validity of all the advice in this comment. We had a kitty with kidney failure who spent the last several months of his life peeing basically everywhere but the litter box.

      Blacklight is key to finding the source of the odors, and our "enzymatic pet odor remover" of choice was Stink Free–really worked and made the odor disappear (sometimes after a couple of applications if the spot went undetected for some time).

      1 agrees
  3. Cat pee will show up under a black light. You can find kits for this online. Once you find it, treat it with enzyme cleaners like Kidz N Pets, Nature's Miracle, Etc. It will likely require several cleanings with lag time between them.

    When our girls protested the place where the dog crate normally goes we ended up having to do a treatment or two per weekend for a few weeks. I would soak the hardwood (yes, the cat pee ruined it in this spot) and then put a towel on top and soak the towel too so that the area stayed moist enough to let the enzymes work. For me, a combination of one treatment with Nature's Miracle and then one with the Kidz N Pets got the smell out.

    And yes, brick can be very porous and can absorb cat pee.

    1 agrees
  4. I am going to echo the white vinegar suggestion, and also to thoroughly inspect the lower cabinets for any sources of the smell. Cabinets with particle board pieces can soak up liquids and retain odors – my recommendation would be to scrub everything you can the best possible with a good cleaner with a small bit of vinegar added, and then spray everything down with a 50/50 white vinegar/water mixture. Your kitchen will smell vinegary for a few hours but it will dissipate as the vinegar dries. If you still have some residual mustiness, you can place sachets or a few bowls of activated charcoal around the kitchen to help absorb other odors.

    6 agree
    • Adding peppermint oil to your 50/50 mix makes it smell nicer and less vinegar-y while it dries, too (1 c white vinegar, 1 c water, 15-20 drops peppermint oil)!

      6 agree
  5. I second the black light idea and use whatever cleaning solution that works for you. If it's not a cat pee smell problem, just that smell of the cat itself, then try to leave some open boxes/bowls of baking soda around the house to absorb odors that are floating around. Oh, and maybe open all of the windows for a day too (This is assuming you didn't buy a house in the Arctic Circle). I firmly believe that all houses take on the smell of the previous owners. We all have a "smell" of our own (in a not weird way) and the smell of our lifestyle too, so yours should take over soon enough too.

    4 agree
  6. There's a product called "Nature's Miracle" that's made just for odors caused by cats. It works GREAT. I've owned cats all my life and this is the only thing I tried that completely gets rid of the smell and stain of cat pee. It's awesome. Try maybe spot-testing it on the wood, that's probably where the smell is coming from. Good luck!

    6 agree
    • Seconding Nature's Miracle. It's like MAGIC.

      3 agree
      • Thirding natures miracle… It even got the smell out if a pair of leather boots my cat peed on!

        I feel like if the smell was in your hardwood floor you would see a spot…the previous owners of my house had dogs and the hardwood was totally destroyed where they peed on it and we had to refinish it.

        2 agree
        • Can I fourth Nature's Miracle? It's fantastic.

          I've also had great luck with Nature's Miracle removing general stains too. Wine, tomato sauce, tough stuff like that. It has helped save many a carpet for me!

          2 agree
    • Yep, I was going to leave a comment about Nature's Miracle too. We have had great success with both the "Urine Destroyer" and the "Orange Oxy Power". One of our kitties likes to pee on things that aren't the litter box when she's angry, which usually ends up being the middle of our bed. The Urine Destroyer was really awesome at getting the smell out (and actually smells somewhat pleasant itself), but it left a really awkard-looking stain on our mattress. Turns out the Oxy stuff gets rid of the smell and is also slowly getting rid of the stain. I really love their products, just make sure to spot test first on whatever surface you're going to clean.

      0 agree
    • Actually, Nature's Miracle is not as good as it once was (in my experience at least), due to an interesting circumstance.

      The company split in two: one got to keep the name Nature's Miracle, and the other got to keep the formula. So now Nature's Miracle is a new, less effective formula, and another brand called Petastic has the old Nature's Miracle formula and works decently well.

      However, another cleaning agent that is cheaper and useful for general cleaning/odor remover called Odoban is my current go-to odor remover for pet smells/stains. It's roughly $10 at Home Depot ( http://www.homedepot.com/OdoBan/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ4iu/h_d2/Navigation#/?c=1&4iu=4iu )for a gallon jug and usually comes bundled with a full spray bottle of the stuff as well. In my experience, it works much better at eliminating odors than either Nature's Miracle or Petastic, is less expensive, more available (at least in my area), and can be used as a general purpose cleaner as well!

      1 agrees
      • Yes! I used to work in a pet store, so I would tell customers this when they asked for Nature's Miracle (we only carried Petastic). Some people are so fixated on the popularity of the brand's name, that they still wanted to buy Nature's Miracle even though the formula that built their reputation was no longer the same!

        0 agree
    • Totally Natures Miracle. We had a crappy college apt that had a few different people's cats in there, a territory war ensued. We got the natures miracle, and one of those big pump sprayers that bug guys use (you can get them at home depot) and just sprayed that stuff EVERYWHERE. It took a few applications but it worked.

      We also had an old house that came with that oh so fresh smell coming out of the hard wood floors. And we tried everything, we had to paint the floor to keep the smell from coming through. If it is the floor and the other things aren't working but you can't afford to pull the floor up its a good last resort.

      0 agree
  7. To get rid of pee stains (dog pee, so a little less tenacious in the smell department than cat pee, but still gross) we've used a product called Urine Destroyer. My husband insisted on that product because he thought the name was hilarious.

    1 agrees
  8. As the mother of very non-harmonious 4 cat household (it's the Brady Bunch of cats! and we are finally making some progress) I have had more than my share of feline problems over the last few years. We have one cat who was going to the bathroom wherever he felt like it and that would cause 2 of the others to follow suit. We are finally getting things under control after trying EVERYTHING, and having to buy new living room furniture, mattress, and rugs. Yup. Really bad cats.

    In any case- as mentioned above, the black light is your best friend in locating the source of the scent if it's from urine.

    I am not a huge fan of Nature's Miracle- I have used it so much that I think it smells as bad a cat pee. It may work fine for you since you don't have a cat, but I found that my cats still peed in places after I cleaned with it.

    I have since moved on to Anti Icky Poo, and it works wonders!!! I can't sing the praises of this enough and if you think you might get a pet in the future, I would go this route instead of Nature's Miracle. It's also all natural, although it doesn't have a horrible scent. It neutralized old really sunk in spots in the hardwood floor that I never thought I would get out. Anti Icky Poo literally saved my house from smelling like a cat farm. Now if I could just convince my better half to get rid of a cat or 2…

    3 agree
    • I agree that the smell of Nature's Miracle is also not appealing. After a cat disaster that lasted several months and ended pretty badly, I was so nauseated by the smell of Nature's Miracle that it was almost worse.

      0 agree
  9. Oh the cat smell problems we have at my house…

    Yes, cat urine can soak into brick as it is porous (as is concrete, like in my basement).

    Yes, you will have to find the spot and wash it Repeatedly.

    You can try the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap remedy. (This is the current one we are trying at my house.)

    It goes like this: 16 oz Hydrogen Peroxide
    1 teaspoon dish washing liquid
    1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
    Mix it all together and soak the heck out of the area. Let it dry and then you can sweep it up later.

    As a last resort, if you can't get to the source of the urine, you might want to consider that it got into/under your floor and you might have to tear up your floor. (Speaking from experience.)

    Best of luck.

    3 agree
  10. ALL OF THE VINEGARS. Honest. We have lived with 6-15 cats forever. Soak everything with vinegar and leave it alone.

    0 agree
  11. Hey everyone! Thank you all for these suggestions. Since I submitted this we actually found the problem. And what's sad is that it wasn't even in the kitchen like we thought! Turned out that our furnace didn't have the proper return on it and the previous owners just left cat hair EVERYWHERE. So the furnace sucked up the hair. Then the smell of the cat proceeded up the chimney that runs through the middle of the house. Where the chimney is in the kitchen there was a square cut out. For some unknown reason it wasn't properly sealed and the furnace exhaust was coming straight into the kitchen. It's amazing that no one died of carbon monoxide poisoning! So once we got that sealed up, a new filter, and our entire duct system cleaned…the cat smell went away almost immediately.

    That being said I do really like everyone's ideas. The people who lived there prior didn't seem like the most cleanly people. I think we've cleaned up multiple cats worth of hair from around the house so far. It was on EVERYTHING. We even went through that second filter in less than two weeks with a whole cat's worth of hair stuck to it. So I'm interested now in getting a black light and seeing if maybe there's anything that we've missed while we moved in. And if there is something I'm certainly going to clean it. The last thing I want is any remnants of someone else's cat in my home!

    1 agrees
    • If you get a portable black light, you can also bring it with you when you stay at hotels. Yes, *all* bodily fluids glow under black light, regardless of the animal of origin. Or, you know, maybe just leave it at home. No matter what, though, never touch the remote control in a hotel. Those bad boys are rarely cleaned but often used when watching potentially unsavory episodes. Just food for thought! :)

      0 agree
      • Oh boo! LOL! I'm never touching a remote without disposable gloves again.

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    • I recommend having the ducts cleaned if you haven't already. That'll help immensely with the amount of cat hair that's remaining.

      0 agree
  12. Our cat doesn't pee everywhere (when he gets old he probably will, though – seems they all do) but when we feel a room smells too feline, or just damp, or just in need of some freshening up, we fill a spray bottle with some combination of vinegar and water (a little lemon juice or a few dabs of an antiseptic essential oil such as rosemary, mint, cypress or tea tree doesn't hurt either) – more vinegar if it really stinky, less if it's just a mild odor – and spray it around – especially along the edges and corners of the room.

    If you spray lightly and don't sit there for awhile, it can also act as a natural Febreeze for furniture.

    0 agree
  13. I have 2 cats, and one does not always find the litter box.
    I've personally had mixed results with enzyme cleaners. (I've tried every single one that has been recommended so far in the comments.)
    I've discovered 3 things that work really well for surface cleaning.
    1) Regular soap & water – I usually just use dish soap, because it will help cut through the residue that may come with kitty "marking" instead of kitty peeing.
    2) Bleach. Bleach will clean just about anything, and is super inexpensive and widely available. It will sanitize any bacteria which may have grown in the wet spot, and deodorizes. (As a person with OCD, the "just-bleached" smell helps me to psychologically think something is cleaner, so I don't repeatedly clean it due to the ick factor.)
    3) Get the area completely dry after cleaning. The drier it is, the less likely bacteria will grow and the smell will not continue to build over time. Use heat, fans, squeegees, extractors – whatever gets the area bone dry.

    0 agree
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