How to Clean Cat Urine Stains and Odors

Because cat urine has an unmistakable odor, you would think that it would be easy to clean up, but if your cat has found some discreet locations to eliminate then you may not be aware of the problem until he has gone back to that spot repeatedly to urinate. By that time, the urine will have soaked through carpeting and gone down to the carpet pad and even beyond. So it’s very important to first locate all the soiled areas so you can do a thorough to clean cat urine stains

Locate All Soiled Areas

The easiest way to do this is with a black light. This  is a special light that will cause most urine stains to fluoresce (think of those old disco days when the disco had black lights and it would cause white clothing to almost look electric).

Black lights are available at your local pet product store as well as online. They’re inexpensive and an absolute must-have if your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box.

Using the Black Light

In order for the urine to fluoresce you’ll need to darken the room as much as possible. If it’s a very bright room during the day and there’s no way to darken it, wait until evening for best detection ability.

Hold the light a few inches away from the area you’re checking. If you think your cat has been spraying, be sure to check vertical surfaces as well.

Typically, urine spray will be in a thin stream and indiscriminate urination will be in a puddle.

Keep in mind that the black light will cause other stains to fluoresce as well, so not everything you see will necessarily be cat urine. It can fluoresce blood stains, vomit, diarrhea stains, etc. After using the black light for a while, you’ll get more familiar with the typical look of a urine stain.


Mark the Spot

Since the stain will not be visible once you turn the room lights back on, you’ll need to make sure you’ve outlined exactly where you’ll need to clean. I use painter’s tape (not masking tape) to outline the stain because it’s easy to peel off afterward. Don’t just put a piece of tape over the stain – outline it so you’ll be sure to clean the entire spot. If you don’t get up all of the urine then your cat will still be able to detect the odor and may return to that area to remove cat urine stain and odor

Cleaning Urine

If you’re dealing with a fresh urine stain, first soak up as much of the urine with paper towels.  Use a blotting technique and don’t press so hard that you drive the urine deeper in the carpet or upholstery.

The product to use for cleaning urine stains is one that states it not only removes the stain but neutralizes the urine odor. Ordinary household cleaners or rug cleaning products won’t do that. It has to be a product specifically made for pet urine. Additionally, don’t use any products containing ammonia because urine contains ammonia and the smell could just trigger a cat to return to that spot to urinate cat urine odor

There are several pet stain removers available and the instructions for each one might vary a little so make sure you follow the directions regarding how long to keep the product on the carpet or upholstery and whether it needs to rinsed off. If using a product on upholstery, test it in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it’s safe for that particular fabric.

Keep in mind that carpeted areas that have been repeatedly soiled may have urine that has reached the flooring underneath. The carpet may need to be replaced. Pet stain and odor removers can only do so much.

Once you’ve applied the pet stain remover and left it on for the time specified by the manufacturer (and rinsed, if also indicated by manufacturer), place a towel over the area with something weighted on it to absorb as much of the moisture as possible. Keep replacing damp towels with dry ones until you’ve gotten up as much moisture as you can.  If you’ve used a large amount of pet stain remover and it went down deeply into the carpet or upholstery, step up a small fan to help accelerate the drying process.

Calling in a Professional Cleaning Service

If you do this, make sure the company states that the product they use is specifically designed to remove pet stain and odor. cat urine odor

Prevent Repeated Performances

Getting rid of urine odor won’t correct the underlying problem as to why your cat has developed a litter box problem. In order to prevent the problem from continuing, it’s important to figure out why the cat is displaying the behavior of either spraying or indiscriminately urinating. The first step in this process is to take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical cause. Then, look at the litter box set-up itself to make sure there isn’t something that needs some tweaking. Additionally, look at any environmental factors that might be causing your cat to feel as if he is unable to eliminate in the litter box.

Need More Information?

If you’re dealing with a litter box problem and the veterinarian has ruled out underlying causes, you can find step-by-step information on behavior modification techniques in any of Pam’s books. For multicat households, refer to the book Cat vs. Cat.





About Pam Johnson-Bennett

Pam Johnson-Bennett is the host of Animal Planet UK's PSYCHO KITTY, She is a best-selling author of nine books, including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. For over 25 years, her books have been called cat bibles by veterinarians, behavior experts, shelters and cat parents worldwide. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN.


  1. My 18 year old cat has started to urinate and defecate in the house. She has never used a litter tray as she has always been an outdoor cat. A new cat has moved into the neighbourhood and was coming into our house via the cat flap. We have prevented this by purchasing an infra red cat flap. However our cat won’t use it and will not leave the house at all. Apart from the toilet problem she appears very chilled and happy. How can we remedy this?

    • Your cat need to be seen by a veterinarian first to rule out any potential medical issue that could be causing the problem. At 18, there are certainly several medical issues happening. Even if you’re pretty sure the problem is behavioral, it’s crucial that medical concerns be ruled out. Additionally, I would recommend that you start keeping your cat indoors exclusively at this point. Being quite the senior kitty, she is probably not able to defend herself against the new cat who has started coming around. She may be afraid to go outdoors now. Also, geriatric cats often experience declining senses so she is more vulnerable when outdoors. It would be safest for her to now remain an indoor cat. I would recommend that you get a large, low-sided litter box that is filled with scoopable, unsecented litter.