4 Reasons Why Your Home Smells Like Cat Pee (+ Solutions)

The hunt for the source of a bad odor in your home can sometimes be an irritating and time consuming task. However, once you know the source, solving this issue becomes much easier. So, march on, soldier!

One of the most questions that I get asked is “Henry, my house smells like cat pee but I can’t find it. How do I figure this out?”

That’s certainly an interesting dilemma. How can a house or an apartment smell like cat pee if you don’t even own a cat?

Turns out, there are a LOT of things that smell like cat urine.

house smells like cat pee but no cat

Why Does My House Smells Like Cat Pee But No Cat is Around?

Here are some of the most common reasons why your house smells like cat pee even without housing a cat:

1. Previous Owners Of Your Home Had A Pet Cat

If you have moved into a new home or apartment, then the most likely reason for it smelling like a cat did its business is the previous owners had a cat around.

Cats leave a mark everywhere in the house. How do they do this?

Cats release a compound called felinine every time they urinate. This amino acid is what makes cat pee smell like it does. Non-neutered, and well groomed cats release high amounts of felinine.

Felinine is what gives cat urine its smell, and the smell does not go away that easily.

Kitchen, bathroom, yard, laundry room, air conditioning vents – you name it.

This smell will spread to your whole house if the cat’s litter box was in an air-conditioned room.

I’m going to be honest with you, it is going to be tough to remove this smell. There is no epicenter to this smell, it has already spread everywhere. This means you would have to clean every part of your house.

Here are some steps to get started with:

  • Use a steam cleaner to clean the hard floors and carpets.
  • Clean all upholstery and drapery with a damp cloth to remove any remaining odors.
  • Clean all hard surfaces with a product that removes pet odors. I’m a big fan of Bar Keepers Friend.
  • Place an open box of baking soda in all areas of your home to absorb the odors. DO NOT use air fresheners. The fragrance will mingle with the cat pee smell, and you will only aggravate the problem.
  • Invest in a air purifier with HEPA filters to remove cat pee smell from the air
  • Clean all air vents, and keep windows open as long as you can to ensure fresh air.

2. Spoiled Food May Smell Like Cat Pee

Spoiled food may also smell like cat urine. When food is left out in the open for too long, it becomes contaminated with bacteria and mold.

Mold releases a chemical that smells like cat urine.

Black mold has a smell that resembles cat pee. It is best to hire a professional to take care of this, since black mold is very dangerous.

Some foods that smell like cat pee when they decompose include garlic, fish, blue cheese, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, grapefruit, lima beans, and yeast extract. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

You should throw away the spoiled food as soon as possible. Ensure proper ventilation, and use natural odor absorbers like baking soda, and the smell should be gone in a few days.

3. Sewer Gases Also Smell Like Cat Pee

Sewer gases often smell like cat urine because it is a weird cocktail of the various sulfates and organic compounds.

Check the bottle traps of every sink or drain in your house, and clean them if necessary. Remove any gunk or hair. Use something like Drano to make sure there are no clogged drains.

If needed, the sewer lines can be cleaned with a high-pressure water jetter.

4. Gas Leak From Air Conditioners Smell Like Cat Urine

Freon is a gas usually used as refrigerants in air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerators.

Freon’s smell resembles that of cat pee. It can make its way to the entire house and stink up the entire house.

You can purchase a Freon leak detector from Home Depot or Amazon and confirm this hypothesis.

If it does detect a leak, contact a certified professional immediately and get it patched up.

How Do I Get Rid Of Cat Pee Smell?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.

You can start by identifying the root cause first.

If it turns out to be due to a freon leak, mold, or sewer gases, we would advise you to get an expert to come down and check. In the meantime, ensure good ventilation, and invest in a good air purifier.

If the previous owners of the house had a cat around, then your best bet is to get scrubbing. You can use a household cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend. Make sure you open up all windows and exhausts to get rid of the smell.

Why Does My Bathroom Smells Like Cat Urine?

If the cat urine smell is isolated to only a bathroom in the house, then the most likely reason is sewer gas leak and mold growth.

Here’s what you should start with:

  1. Clean all drains and remove any gunk, soap, or hairs. Use Drano to unclog if necessary
  2. Inspect your bathrooms and check if there are leaks. A damaged toilet seal is the most likely source. Even if the toilet seat was firmly secured to the floor, there’s a chance the wax seal did not fit the seat.
  3. Check to see whether the toilet was simply pressed down or re-welded to the floor with caulk. Caulking merely serves to contain leaks beneath the toilet. It can also wind up causing harm to the floor without you even realizing it.
  4. Uninstall the toilet seat and look beneath it. If the flange is not broken or the floor is not rotting, change the wax ring and reinstall the toilet seat. Alternatively, you can call a professional to do the job.
  5. Did the the previous tenant house a cat? Cats frequently pee against baseboards, and the dampness in the batroom can cause urine to seep beneath the floorboards. You should get a professional to fix this, since the smell will rise up every time floor makes contact with water.
  6. Scrub the bathroom with bleach, and use a deodorizer.

Why Do My Shoes Smell Like Cat Pee?

There could be multiple reasons why your shoes smell like cat pee:

Reason #1: Either a cat peed on it, or you walked over a surface where a cat peed

Here is how to remove the smell of urine from shoes:

  1. Remove excess pee by gently dabbing the stain with a microfiber towel.
  2. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon liquid detergent with two cups of cold water.
  3. Gently mix in one tablespoon vinegar to the solution. You may also use baking soda
  4. Spray the solution on your shoes, and let it sit for a few minutes. It will help sterilize the shoe and break down the acid.
  5. Tap dry the shoes, and leave it in a well ventilated room to dry
  6. You can also top it off with a cat pee deodorizer.

Reason #2: Your shoes are rotting

Shoemakers use a polyurethane material in the sole, which rots on frequent water contact. This releases ammonia, which is responsible for the odor.

If you feel your shoes are rotting, it is best to just get a new pair. Ammonia is not something you should mess with.

My Yard Smells Like Cat Pee

A cat will spritz on a bush, tree, or lawn furniture to marks his territory. While this odor is an important aspect of a cat’s communication, humans find it to be quite unpleasant, smelly, and overbearing.

Here’s what you can do when your yard smells like cat pee:

  1. Collect any clumps of cat litter, wrapped in plastic and dispose it. If you bury it in your yard, the cat may still be able to smell it and believe it’s a good place to discharge himself. The best way is to toss it in the trash.
  2. To neutralize the residual pee and feces, carefully water your yard. Continue to water until there is no more aroma. Both porous and solid surfaces will take more watering to remove the stench thoroughly.
  3. Scrub any solid surfaces, like the concrete or furniture, with water and soap to eliminate regions that smell of cat pee.
  4. To break down and totally remove the stench, use a vinegar and water solution or an enzyme-based cleaner. Carefully spray the solution to get rid of the smell.

Why Does My Laundry Smells like Cat Pee?

Pets may urinate on your clothing or beds from time to time. Cat urine has a strong odor that can be difficult to get rid of, especially if it has dried and settled in.

But you can treat washable clothes to remove the smell of cat pee. Here are a few suggestions to help you get rid of the smell of cat pee.

  • Before applying anything to the garments, soak the stain in a mixture of water and vinegar.
  • Do not wipe or scrub it. Simply dab it with an old cloth or paper towel to absorb the pee until it’s dry.
  • You can then proceed to use an enzyme-based detergent meant to remove pet odor or use a vinegar and water solution to wash your clothes.