Here’s Why Your House Plant Smells Like Cat Pee (+Solutions)

Landscaping can be a fun and effective way of improving your home’s appeal. However, plants can have certain secrets up their sleeves, and you might have to recalculate which plants you will use.

While some plants may incur physical injuries with spiky thorns, others might ruin your experience with unbearable odor, such as cat pee. Yes, you heard it right! A few species can mimic the smell of cat urine and give you chills while you pass them. 

So why does my plant smell like cat pee? What plants smell like urine? Or how do I get rid of cat urine smell in potted plants?

One of the best practices of avoiding plants that smell like cat pee is to talk with your local nursery. For others, this article will help you understand why your garden smells like cat pee.

Why Does My House Plant Smells Like Cat Pee?

Unlike other plants that offer a pleasant smell, some plants can smell unusual or weird because of their compounds. These plants can have a very distinctive odor, which may resemble a cat’s urine. 

For instance, Blackcurrants smell like cat urine as they contain thiol-containing compounds. These compounds (-SH group) produce an odor similar to a cat’s urine, and though they have lower concentrations, they can impact the overall aroma and produce that distinctive odor.

In fact, thiols are the reason why certain wines have a distinctive cat urine like taste. The type of flavors that people experience when they drink wine is because of a process called oxidation, and alcohols (like ethyl alcohol or ethanol) give wines those impressions.

Similarly, you can find other plant species, such as boxwood, sage, juniper, etc., that smell like cat pee. 

Which Plants Smell Like Cat Urine?

Although many plants smell like urine, we have concentrated on the more common ones in home gardens.

Boxwood

Boxwood is one of the common plants used in landscaping because of its versatility. You can use these shrubs to define areas, grow as topiary shrubs, or create a natural screen. Although there are 30 different species of boxwood, people often consider using the American and Japanese variants in their garden. And yes! Boxwood smells like cat pee.

Valerian

This odiferous herb is also a common landscaping plant. Its small flowers can attract you instantly with their light purple or pink colors. However, they smell like cat urine, which can ruin your landscaping experience. 

Viburnum Tinus

This evergreen shrub can elevate your landscaping experience with its eye-catching white flowers and lustrous green foliage, especially during the winter season. You can grow this plant in different growing conditions, including sunny locations. 

However, the plant emits a distinctive odor reminiscent of cat pee on rainy days, ruining your garden experience. In short, Viburnum Tinus produces a beautiful white flower that smells like urine.

why do my house plants smell like cat pee

How do I get rid of cat urine smell in potted plants?

Sometimes you may ask yourself this question, why does my soil smell like pee? While houseplants that emit a pee-like odor can be responsible, they can also be the work of your beloved pets – cats.

A cat’s urine can ruin the balance of your soil and damage potted plants. So to get rid of the smell, you can neutralize the cat urine. 

Here are the steps you need to follow to get rid of cat urine smell in potted plants:

  • Remove the soil and wash it thoroughly
  • After washing, place it in a sunny location and let it dry
  • If you still smell cat pee, mix baking soda with water and spray on the soil
  • Trim the leaves if you have a large plant as leaves can carry the smell even after washing

Additionally, you can take some preventive measures, such as keeping your cat away from the plant or putting disposable forks upright in your potted plant. You can also try putting large rocks into the pot to prevent your cat from digging. 

Why does my plant smell like ammonia?

If your plant is emitting a weird or rotten smell, like ammonia, it is an indication that the soil below lacks oxygen. If your pot has a flawed drainage system, the water takes up all the empty spaces, leaving no room for oxygen. 

The lack of oxygen decreases microbial activities, which affects the performance of the soil and gives out a rotten smell. Additionally, roots, stones, or replaced peat moss can also cause this problem as they take up space, especially in a potted plant.

Thankfully, you can solve this problem by adding soil amendments to increase the soil’s drainage properties. By mixing vermiculite and perlite in the soil, you can increase air spaces and allow water to drain freely. Additionally, you can also add activated charcoal to reduce foul odors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Plants Smelling Like Cat Pee

  1. What plants smell like cat pee?

    Plants like boxwood, valerian, Viburnum Tinus, sage, mint, blackcurrants, and even lilies give a distinctive odor, similar to cat urine. 

    However, you can also get a weird odor from plants because of lousy soil or if your cat loves to pee on your plants. 

  2. Does juniper smell like cat pee?

    Well! It depends on personal taste. While some may love the aromatic smell of junipers, others may associate its smell with cat urine. However, the plant does have a strong scent, and many find it reminiscent of apples, lemons, or cedar.

  3. Why does my mint plant smell like cat pee?

    If your mint plant smells like cat pee, it could be because of acidic soil. Like we mentioned earlier, acidic soil can give out a rotten smell, similar to ammonia or cat pee, as it becomes anaerobic.

  4. Does sage smell like cat pee?

    Although there are hundreds of sage varieties, only a few of them can make it to your plate. While some varieties have a mouth-watering aroma, others can smell awful. It would be best to talk with your local nursery or research online before planting sage in your garden.

  5. Why do lilies smell like urine?

    While many find lilies to smell like clove, others may find the scent closer to cat urine. Lilies contain butyric acid, responsible for the foul smell, especially if you keep the plant for too long at room temperature. Additionally, if you are sensitive to odor, you may find the scent of lilies overpowering, thus resembling cat pee.