Whole House Smells Like Cat Urine

Whole House Smells Like Cat Urine
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi

You dearly love your cats but you cannot get them to pee only where you want – the litter box. Cat urine especially in large amounts can seep through carpets, furniture, and hardwood floors. Its smell may also linger on concrete surfaces if not cleaned properly. Having a cat pee smell-free home is hard to achieve but it is possible with some work and the right cleaning materials. 

Whole house smells like cat urine: What to do?

Here are the steps that you can do to get rid of the cat urine smell in your home. 

1. Locate and identify where the smell is emanating from. 

Before you can proceed with odor removal, you need to locate the areas where the smell comes from. It is easy to spot the areas if urine is still wet but if it has already dried up it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact location. If this is the case, you can use a black light to locate the urine marks that are invisible to the naked eye.

2. Once the urine stains are located, you should remove the odor thoroughly.  

Urine odor should be removed well since if the smell lingers, your cat will keep on coming back to that particular area to pee again. Cat urine contains uric acid which is not soluble by water so soap, baking soda, and water alone may not eradicate the pungent smell. 

Here are some tips on how to eradicate cat urine smell:

For fresh urine stains on furniture 

  • blot the urine stain with a microfiber cloth or paper towel 
  • gently sponge the stain  starting from the outer part toward the center using a solution composed of one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, two cups of cold water, and one tablespoon of vinegar
  • repeat the process 
  • rinse out by blotting the area with a damp cloth or paper towel until it is completely dry

For old urine stains on furniture 

  • mix at least 10 oz of three percent hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda, and two to three drops of dishwashing liquid and place in a spray bottle 
  • pre-test the upholstery and if there is no change in fabric color you may continue spraying the solution on the furniture
  • after an hour the stains should disappear and you may dab or blot the area with a cloth or paper towel 

Also, check out our earlier article on how to get cat urine on wood furniture for a detailed discussion and additional tips.  

For fresh urine stains on carpets

  • blot out the stains using paper towels or a wet/dry vacuum 
  • rinse the stains once with cold water 
  • blot excess water with a paper towel 
  • wet the affected area with an enzyme-based cleaner and let it sit for at least five minutes, make sure to spray a ring a few inches outside the stained area, and generously spray the enzyme cleaner inside the ring to saturate the carpet and pad below since cat urine leaks into the carpet backing and spreads to a wide area
  • let the cleaner dry and vacuum 
For old urine stains on carpets 
Image: istockphoto.com / krblokhin

For old urine stains on carpets 

You may also check out our earlier article on how to get rid of cat urine on carpet for more helpful tips. For urine stains on the floor, do read our earlier articles on cleaning cat urine from concrete floors and hardwood floors for more insightful tips on how to eradicate the pungent smell forever. 

3. Assess and get to the root of the problem and why your cat is urinating outside the litter box. 

Removal of urine stains and the pungent smell does not mean the end of your dilemma.  If the root of the problem is not addressed, your cat will continue to pee in the wrong places.  

Here are the common reasons why cats pee outside the litter box:

  • your cat may have  a medical problem like urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes, cystitis or inflammation of the bladder, or bladder stones 
  • the litter box may be dirty, it may be too small, it may be in a location your cat does not like or she may not like the litter because of the annoying feel and strong scent 
  • your cat is stressed due to sudden changes in your home or she may be in conflict with another cat or pet in your household 
  • it may be due to old urine smells as mentioned earlier in this article 

Ways to stop your cat from urinating outside the litter box 

  • make sure your cat’s litter box is always clean and be sure it is comfortable enough for your cat, check out our article on litter box hacks for some great tips 
  • place your cat’s litter box in a private and secluded area and be sure to have an extra litter box for your cat 
  • opt for litter that is of good quality and preferably an unscented type 
  • see to it that your home is a happy place for your furry baby, and provide interactive toys and lots of vertical space for your cat to explore
  • If the problem is with urine marking or spraying see the tips in our article on when do male cats start spraying.


A whole house that smells of cat urine can be a major turn-off. You should be able to get rid of the smell by doing some deep cleaning and using effective urine stain cleaners. Ultimately you will need to identify and address the root causes of the inappropriate behavior to stop your cat from peeing in the wrong places.