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How to Clean Cat Urine Stains and Odors

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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 clean-up.

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.

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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 again.


  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?

  2. I have a Kirby, I’m not trying to sell them, I don’t care and won’t respond to comments about how much you love or hate them. I’m just putting information out there from my personal experience. So all biases towards the machine, the company, whatever aside, I’ve used one my whole life and will continue to do so, I’ve been trained on how to use them correctly and when treated properly, using methods pretty much the same as this article meticulates combined with using the Kirby and their shampoo product (not going to argue, just simply state that I’ve had the same success with the regular shampoo as with the pet formula that Kirby sells) per the instructions, I’ve successfully cleaned every cat urine, stomach bile puke, etc.. stain out of carpet, all different lengths, colors, doesn’t matter. Their shampoo is only 10% water, it is non toxic, pet safe and it breaks up the matter that is setting there causing the stain so it can dry and be vacuumed up. Because of how that works and as the article mentioned, the stain could go as far as the carpet knap, the padding underneath or further so as you pretreat it the stain is going to lift and can spread as its breaking apart and lifting out because its traveling up the carpet fibers and can branch out a little to nearby fibers depending on how much is there being treated. I’ll saturate the affected area with shampoo in a squirt bottle and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes depending on how long its been there, then I’ll dab/blot with paper towel, spritz the area again with shampoo, let sit, shorter time frame probably because the initial stuff is still in there. I will use a stiff plastic bristled brush like a toothbrush or dish scrubber to slowly, gently comb or brush the carpet fibers from the knap up, one direction, don’t push the stain source back down! And blot again after each treatment. I’ve lifted stains the professional carpet cleaners leave behind. This works. Also, a mixture of dawn dish soap, water and vinegar, Google for parts per, works almost as good if you’re anti Kirby or can’t get your hands on their shampoo.

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