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That cat piss smell

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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Igor » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:19 pm

We had a cat that we had to get rid of because when we moved into our house, he started peeing on the carpet. His only prior problems where when he would be standing in the litter box and miss, which was actually kind of funny - how can you miss when you have 4 legs and are standing *in* the target area.

It turns out that the prior owners of the house had a cat that pretty much had a bathroom in every room of the house. We had noticed one small spot in one room that had a little odor, but as we tore up carpet through the years, there was a stain on each and every one. Typically after I removed the carpet I would:

- Pry up any tack strip that was even in the area of the stain - anything where the metal looks at all corroded.
- use a power sander on the stained areas so that the stain was no longer visible, or at least much less so.
- Put a coat or two of Kilz primer on the wood.

That seemed to take care of the smell. Of course, the issue with a cat is that if he has peed there a couple times, you can probably remove the smell totally and still not keep him from peeing there.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:55 am

narcoleptish wrote:I really feel that at least some of these people have no idea.


Oh,I think most do but just look the other way.
After we bought our first house the potpourri et al. at the showings made much sense.
Needless to say, I quickly learned what a jamb saw is and how to flip it on its side to remove the subfloor sponge known as oriented strand board (OSB) right up to the wall. This was in a room that I did not intend to put hardwood in, but it was the first.
A couple years later I repeated the process in other rooms to deal with the less offensive cat 'displays' and the results of the, generally, shitty construction standards of Midland Bldrs.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby bleurose » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:37 pm

Well, here I go: topic on which I have a fair amount of experience, both in practice (DVM) & in practice (multiple cats at home).

Rule #1: how ever many cats there are, you have that many litter boxes + 1. So for one cat, two litter boxes, absolute minimum. For our 10 indoor/outdoor cats, I have 11 - 12 litter boxes at any given time.

Rule #2: boxes cleaned a minimum of once daily. Sometimes you have to clean more often if a box is used more heavily.

No skimping on either #1 or #2. Can't tell you how many times I would hear from a client with multiple cats that there was only one box in the entire house and/or it was only cleaned every few days. Well, what do you do when you walk into a stall and the person before you has not flushed? That is exactly what your cats are doing. Also, if there are territory issues between any two cats, then multiple boxes ensures that no one cat can guard every one of the boxes and keep other cats from using them.

Rule #3: keep the clean litter at a depth of at least 3 inches throughout the entire box. Gives the cat(s) a decent chance of burying the output which can help decrease odor.

Rule #4: avoid scented litters when possible. Some cats will simply refuse to use a box so equipped. If your cats are OK with it, by all means, use it.

Rule #5: no covered boxes, allows ammonia to build up and cats will avoid that box.

Rule #6: if a spot begins to be favored which is devoid of a litter box, try placing a box in that spot for a while and then gradually moving it until it is in a place which works for you. Ensuring during the gradual move that the cat(s) continues to use it. There are times when the cat will choose the litter box location and it is much easier all around to scoop a box in an inconvenient locations than it is to keep cleaning a floor/walls. Sometimes you have to accept that the cat's chosen location trumps yours and you leave a litter box in that spot.

Rule #7: somewhat of a corollary to #2 - regular schedule of dump & scrub boxes. Even with clumping litter and replacing it periodically to keep the depth up, litters begin to retain odor and the boxes should be completely dumped and then scrubbed out. Suck it up and do it, it is no worse than changing diapers for humans. Dish soap and a sponge or scrubbie, turn on the hose outside and do it there. Can even be done during the winter on a sunny day. Dry thoroughly, replace litter to a good depth and you are good for another 3 - 4 months.

If a cat begins to miss the box/not use it, several things to consider and many have to do with simply getting old. If you observe what cats do when using a box, to pee, they squat - boys & girls. Sometimes, they will stand up part way through the flow and then it goes outside the box/down the wall. This can be managed by putting up acrylic sheets next to the wall with a garbage bag under the acrylic to catch leaks. The acrylic sheets are easy to hose off and the plastic bag can still be used to put out the trash when replaced with a clean one. Also, as the cat gets older and joints are stiffer, it can be difficult to squat and many of those animals will simply stand the entire time. Not so bad with poo as it just drops into the litter. But the pee can be problematic. Another issue for elderly cats can be just stepping up and over into a box. A box with lower sides may be all it takes for these kitties to successfully navigate "into the toilet", so to speak. As always, litter boxes should be on some sort of bare floor anyway to make clean up easier (on everyone). I've even recommended for really arthritic cats a box with one open side which they can walk right into. What works best for this is one of those long oblong plastic storage boxes you can get at Menard's or Target: cut one narrow end off, fill the opposite end (at least half the box) with the litter and put it somewhere on a bare floor that the old kitty can get to. You will end up with some litter on the floor, no way to avoid that, but it should help with access issues. Old cats may have difficulty going up & down stairs so the basement box may no longer be an option for them. If you have a guest bathroom on the main level, put a box there for the old gent/lady.

Then there are always the urinary tract health issues which should be explored, just to be sure. However, if you make note of what is happening, you may be able to address it by repositioning boxes, having many boxes, using different litter types, dump-and-scrub, etc.

Hopefully, this will help some. I agree with other posters that the carpet + pad will likely have to go and I find impervious flooring to be the much better option for those with pets anyway. Also, may have to replace floor level molding if it has gotten frequent doses in the past.

As far as the resident being able to smell what is obvious to the newcomer, your olfactory receptors simply become used to that particular smell after a while and the odor molecules no longer trigger any - or very little - scent recognition. That can be a big part of it. As is the human aging process, nothing is as sharp as it was when we were 20, including our sense of smell. So it may be a kindness to let an older person's kids know so they can investigate. There may be more wrong than just the kitty box.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Bwis53 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:29 pm

This system worked perfectly for me and I had two cats once: One litter box, sturdy plastic liner, kitty litter brand for odor control, depth to 3", scoop out box twice a day, add more litter as needed, change out entire box once a month, scrub only if plastic liner has torn. My cats were fastidious!
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Ducatista » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:55 pm

bleurose wrote:Rule #5: no covered boxes, allows ammonia to build up and cats will avoid that box.

We're down to one cat, two boxes. She uses only one of the litter boxes and never goes outside the box, despite the fact that one of our rooms took quite a few hits from one of our old boys in his final year. (We gave it our all with the enzymatic cleaner, but the smell won't be completely gone until we replace the carpet.)

Her box of choice is covered, but it's not the typical covered box. First of all, it's freaking huge, and second, the lid is on the top of the box like a banker's box so no urine gets trapped in the box/lid seam, which will cause ammonia stink no matter how often you scoop. I know that from cat-sitting... until this one, we never had a covered box at home. You can leave the lid off if you prefer, and I would, if the box weren't in our front hall. Anyway, highly recommended. Sold by a Madison company, manufactured in Lake Mills: Kattails Kat Kave.

(The name reminds me of the Barney Miller episode in which a grammarian freaked out on an ad exec for describing a dill pickle as the krun-krun-krunchiest — what's next, he railed, the ko-ko-kosherest? — but it's a damned fine litter box.)
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby fennel » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:31 pm

Yo, that is some serious money for a cat box.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Violet_Skye » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:04 pm

Also, you can't put a liner in it, any way that I can see...yuck @ cleaning it.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Bwis53 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:48 pm

Violet_Skye wrote:Also, you can't put a liner in it, any way that I can see...yuck @ cleaning it.


I had a covered box with vents.

I don't know if the brand of liners (Johnny Cat) are available around here, but they were fairly durable. When I had to do the once a month clean-out, it made disposing of the old litter easy! I swear my cat had to mark his new territory when I did the total change-out! I tried to out-wait him but I think he was psychic!
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Violet_Skye » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:45 pm

I was referring to the $99 cat box...don't see any way to use a liner with that...
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Ducatista » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:43 pm

Violet_Skye wrote:I was referring to the $99 cat box...don't see any way to use a liner with that...

No reason for a liner, because there's no yuck. We use World's Best litter (made from corn, clumps harder than clay, no gross perfume-y smell, and never leaves that weird clay/pee slurry), and I scoop at least once a day. It couldn't possibly be cleaner or easier.

Yeah, fennel, it's serious money... but we'll use it every day as long as we have cats, and we'll always have cats.

Trust me on this topic. I've done a LOT of research on keeping the stink factor low, ever since of our older cats chose the foyer as his bathroom a few years back. Our current catbox/litter/disposal setup makes for zero stink, super-easy cleaning, and a happy cat. (Our most recent cat sitter demanded a shopping list so she could recreate the system.)
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby bleurose » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:25 pm

And of course, nirvana has been achieved when cat is happy with litter & box(es) location that does not include middle of living room floor :wink:

I'm pretty fastidious about scooping and never could have a covered box for long that did not start to trap ammonia smells. So more power to those of you who have found a way to make it work and to those whose cats will use them.
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