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That cat piss smell

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That cat piss smell

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:26 am

Once a month or so I find myself in a home that has that unmistakeable feline fragrance and I think to myself, "these peoples friends need to say something."

I would, if it were a close friend or family member, or if they asked me, but it's always either a customer or someone I don't know too well. Often it's only in part of the house, I assume closer to the cat box, but sometimes it's the whole house and one older lady's apartment in particular was almost eye-watering.

I also assume these people are just used to it and don't even smell it anymore and I always feel like I should say something. But I never do. Would you say something? Have you? I would be grateful if someone told me, at least in a polite way.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby fisticuffs » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:36 am

It comes and goes. We bought a house and there's an area that we've cleaned and de-stinkified a dozen times. Certain days though you can still smell it. Unfortunately I think it's baked into some wood trim and when the sun hits it long enough...
Cat piss is about the worst and hardest smell to get rid of. Just because you notice it doesn't mean they aren't doing anything about it.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby barney » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:39 am

The particularly pungent ones could also be from an 'intact' male cat spraying and marking his territory. That smell will curl your hair.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby gargantua » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:57 am

I would not say something unless it was someone I knew well, and even then it would depend on whether or not I thought they had to ability to do something about it. My late, elderly, parents had dogs, cats and various and sundry other pets in over 50 years of living in their 1100 sq ft ranch house.

I couldn't stay for more than an hour without getting an allergic reaction. But they didn't notice it and didn't want to do anything about it, so I dropped it. Sure made the place hard to sell though.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby snoqueen » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:07 am

I think most people with this smell in their house know it and are caught between a rock and a hard place. Often it's due to a beloved old cat who's on the way out and the person wouldn't get rid of it prematurely for anything in the world. So they're just waiting it out.
Sometimes they don't care or really can't smell it due to some sinus problem (this was the case with a family member of my own).

Sometimes though the person has early dementia or is an animal hoarder or otherwise not able to make good decisions. That's a whole bigger problem.

I'd say if you bring it up, you've got to offer a solution. You're already there to help solve some other house-problem, right? So helping with the stink problem would be an appropriate add-on to offer.

Things I've learned:

If there's a wood floor that's got stink in one area, painting or refinishing the floor often does the trick. If it's a corner, sometimes you need to pull up the baseboard, clean/paint under it, and even refinish both sides of the baseboard where the urine soaked in. If the urine got between floorboards, whatever you use to refinish needs to get down there too. The idea is to clean off deposits of crystals and then seal the wood.

If there's carpeting, it's got to be replaced. Spot cleaning only works for a while and never gets to the pad, so on a humid day the stink is right back. Be sure when the carpet is out, all the stink is gone. If you seal old stink under new carpet you haven't accomplished a thing.

Furniture has to be replaced or reupholstered.

In a bathroom, sometimes replacing the vinyl is the way to go. Again, if the cat urine has soaked in around the edges, you've got to deal with whatever it soaked into.

I have been told inspecting with a blacklight will reveal where the urine is because it is visible under blacklight. I have not been able to get this to work but maybe you can.

The enzyme cleaners (Natural Solution is one, I think) work for cleaning little flat areas but aren't the answer for a big problem. They're pretty good on a basement floor, but then so is bleach which is cheaper. Read the instructions on the product, because some say not to bleach first.

Good luck and it's nice of you to even consider helping the people with this problem. You can tell I've had to deal with the same thing.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Bwis53 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:10 pm

What Sno said is correct. I used to work in that industry.

Infrequently cleaned litter boxes also make a cat want to go else where.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Violet_Skye » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:18 pm

I've read that, to a cat, bleach has scent components of cat urine, and it will encourage them to keep using that spot. I would use the enzyme cleaners or vinegar.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby fennel » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:50 pm

I've had good luck with copious amounts of white vinegar, but it wasn't a severe problem.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby pattymcnutt » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:25 pm

It's probably also worth noting that if the person has a normally well-behaved cat who suddenly starts going places other than the litterbox, they should definitely take the cat to the vet. It could be a sign of bladder stones (which can be fatal) or other urinary tract issues.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby Remember_Me » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:43 pm

fennel wrote:I've had good luck with copious amounts of white vinegar, but it wasn't a severe problem.


Copious as in saturating the fibers with a sprayer or copious as in actually pouring the vinegar to get down to the pad?

Sno, have you ever saturated down to the pad with vinegar?

We're at our wit's end with Sir-Marks-A-Lot.

I don't know what else we can do.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby fennel » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:57 pm

The latter. Lots of vinegar. The vinegar smell itself doesn't hang around more than a few days.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby snoqueen » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:14 pm

I have not found vinegar works very well. I know others say it does and I won't contradict them, I'm just sayin' I never had much luck with it. Maybe I got there too late.

The piss smell is mostly ammonia, which is alkaline. So possibly vinegar, which is acidic, neutralizes it in a standard acid-base reaction. It's not unreasonable. Maybe you have to apply the vinegar when the piss is still wet. Quite a few sites I just looked at say vinegar works if you apply it repeatedly until the odor is gone. Here's one:

http://www.allergystore.com/get-rid-cat-urine-odor.htm

It sure can't hurt to try. Vinegar is non-toxic and cheap, and whatever the cat peed on is already ruined so you aren't going to make it worse, even if you soak your already-soaked carpet pad.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby bdog » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:57 pm

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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:02 pm

snoqueen wrote:I'd say if you bring it up, you've got to offer a solution. You're already there to help solve some other house-problem, right? So helping with the stink problem would be an appropriate add-on to offer.


I think it's okay to point out a potential problem even if you're not the person to fix it. I don't know how to rid a home of that odor so I wouldn't offer to try.

I really feel that at least some of these people have no idea. I often have people apologize to me for their messy homes (which usually are not that messy) so I think there's a good chance that someone who was aware of the gag-inducing smell wafting up from their basement might at least mention it.

I'll probably just keep keeping my mouth shut.
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Re: That cat piss smell

Postby snoqueen » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:58 am

I don't blame ya.

Probably one of the main points of this whole discussion is what an awful job cleaning up cat stink can be.
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