Cleaning cat urine and controlling cat litter odor in a multiple cat household can sometimes be quite a challenge. When you have lots of cats, chances are, at some point, you will experience issues with litter box avoidance or inappropriate elimination.
Cat urine and cat urine odor can be quite difficult to deal with. Once a cat starts urinating in an inappropriate place, such as your carpet, the odor will bring her back to that same spot again and again and you will be forever cleaning cat urine. What may have started out as an ‘accident’ soon becomes a habit that is very hard to break.
Inappropriate urination is one of the top reasons cats are forced outside or turned into shelters. And sadly, the problem is usually the fault of the cat’s owner, not the cat!
The best way to stop inappropriate elimination and to minimize the number of times you find yourself cleaning cat urine is to prevent the problem from starting in the first place. The best way to prevent problems is to provide the right type and number of cat litter boxes and to fill them with the right type and amount of cat litter.
Once the cat litter boxes are set up properly, they MUST BE KEPT CLEAN! Cats will use litter boxes because they instinctively have a desire to dig a hole so they can cover or bury their waste. If the cat litter boxes are dirty, a cat may decide to find another place to go…someplace you will not like! And you will find yourself frequently cleaning cat urine!
How to Clean the Cat Litter Box
Every litter box needs to be cleaned on a daily basis.
Wear gloves and always wash your hands when you are done. We use inexpensive dishwashing types of gloves.
If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, you can still clean the boxes if necessary. Just be sure to wear a mask. This will prevent dust particles and bacteria from entering the lungs and causing infection. Infection from cleaning cat litter boxes and cleaning cat urine is rare but it can happen. Just use your own best judgment.
To dispose of the waste, we use an inexpensive trash can lined with plastic bags from the grocery store. These bags can tear easily so double or triple them to avoid them splitting and dumping the contents all over the floor! When done, tie up the handles and dispose of them in the trash.
Kitty litter waste should not go in the compost heap and we don’t recommend flushing it down the toilet – not even the so-called flushable type. We have known people that have had costly plumbing repairs from flushing so-called flushable litter waste. We’d rather spend our money on things other than plumbing!
To clean the litter, start by scooping the clumps of urine and stool that can be easily seen. Use a strong plastic or metal scoop such as DuraScoop Large Cat Litter Scoop. The cheap, thin plastic ones tend to break too easily. When scooping the litter, try not to break the clumps.
Then, starting at on end of the box, dig a trench across the box from front to back, moving forward little by little, to expose the more deeply buried clumps. Remove the clumps as they are exposed and keep moving the trench across the box until all of the clumps have been removed.
If the litter is at the proper depth (apx. 4″), there should not be a problem with clumps sticking to the bottom so you shouldn’t have to be cleaning cat urine from the bottom of the box. Occasionally, however, clumps will stick to the side of the box. Instead of scraping it off, hit the outside of the box where the clump is to un-stick it. This enables the clump to be scooped out without breaking it up.
Because some cats urinate ‘out’ instead of down, cleaning cat urine from the sides of the box is necessary.
We use a spray bottle filled with water and a little bit of antibacterial dishwashing liquid. Some people use a diluted bleach solution but we prefer not to use bleach around our cats and have found that the dishwashing liquid works just as well.
Cleaning cat urine from the inside of the box is easy as you can see where they have hit the sides of the box. Just spray the areas inside of the box with the solution and wipe it clean with a paper towel. Only spray a small amount of the solution and avoid wetting the litter in the box.
After the box has been scooped and you are done cleaning cat urine from the inside of the box, if the litter is low, add a layer of fresh cat litter to bring it back to the desired depth.
We also sweep the floors of loose litter and the dirt that can get tracked in from outside. We then mop the floors with water and dishwashing liquid. Because the cats like to lay on the tile floors of the rooms where their litter boxes are, daily mopping helps keep both the floors and the cats clean.
We have tried a variety of mops and found the Liebman Wonder Mop to be the best and easiest to use. You can wring out excess water without getting your hands wet and the mop head can be removed and thrown in the washing machine. Also, it lasts quite a long time with regular use and doesn’t fall apart like sponge mops often do. The Wonder Mop is inexpensive and can be purchased at most discount stores.
While it may seem like a lot of work, it only takes one person about 30 to 40 minutes each day to do everything. And we feel much better knowing that our cats’ bathrooms and surrounding areas are clean and healthy for them.
Cleaning the litter boxes this way on a daily basis will help keep them fresh and clean, and will keep the cats faithfully using them. But don’t be surprised if the second you finish cleaning one box, a cat hops in and promptly uses it. Cats, like us, prefer to use a bathroom that is fresh and clean!
This is not to say that we never have inappropriate elimination problems. However, this usually only occurs with cats that are ill, elderly, or under stress. Since we take in stray cats that have not been cared for and are often frightened, problems occur more often than we like! As a result, we have become experts at cleaning cat urine and other icky things!
How To Clean Cat Urine
Cleaning cat urine requires that not only do you remove the urine but that the urine odor is removed too. And just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean that the cats can’t smell it. Also, if not properly cleaned, the urine odor will come back, days or even weeks later!
Fortunately, we have found the absolute best stuff in the world to solve this problem. Not only will it remove all traces of urine and urine odor, but it will also clean stains from vomit, blood, diarrhea, and just about anything you can think of! It will even get out old stains!
We refer to it as ‘crime scene clean-up’ stuff and get it from Planet Urine. We have tried other products but nothing has worked as well. It is easy to use too!
It is almost impossible to get cat urine and urine odor out of carpets. This stuff is designed especially for this but it can also be used on linoleum, tile, cement and wood floors.
First, mop or towel up as much of the urine as possible. Then, sprinkle on the powder and work it into the carpet with a brush. After it sits, you just vacuum it up and the urine and odor are gone for good!
Correcting Bad Habits
If a cat is eliminating outside the litter box, it is important to determine the reason why. It is also very important to recognize that a cat does not pee on your carpet out of malice or spite. They are not just exhibiting ‘bad behavior’. Sometimes, going outside the box is the only way they know of to let you know something is wrong.
In a multiple cat household, there may be a bully cat that attacks another cat when he is trying to use the box. As a result, the picked-on cat will learn to eliminate elsewhere. Often, it is because a cat is feeling stressed and insecure and this is his way of coping.
(If a cat is ill or old, it may not be able to get to the litter box. Dealing with a cat that is ill comes with its own unique set of problems and we will not be discussing that here.)
It is important to note here that we are not referring to a one-time accident. Once is usually because the litter boxes are not kept as clean as the cats would like. With repeated inappropriate elimination, however, there is usually a bigger problem occurring. Illness should always be investigated first.
Usually, in a multiple cat household, the most difficult part will be determining who the offending cat is! You will need to play detective to figure out who is having the problem and why. Once you know which cat is doing it, you may then need to do some creative problem-solving to correct the issue. In the meantime, you may be frequently cleaning cat urine!
Once you have determined the reason a cat has stopped using the litter box, and the problem has been corrected (more boxes added, changed the litter, recovered from illness, eliminated stressors, etc.), the offending cat needs to learn to feel comfortable using litter boxes again. Confining the cat is the first step.
We confine the offending cat to a small isolation area. (We use a bathroom.)There, we place a clean litter box, blanket, toys, etc. so the cat can be comfortable in the isolation room.
Once the cat is faithfully using the litter box, we let them out of the isolation room for short periods under supervision. As long as the cat continues to use the cat litter box, We extend the time he is allowed out of isolation. If the problem re-occurs, we start the process over.
We always keep a litter box in the isolation room even if a cat is not being isolated. This helps the cat to feel safe and comfortable in that he can return to the isolation room to use the box whenever he needs to.
Usually, once a cat has become comfortable using a litter box, he will use boxes located in the different areas of the house without a problem.
One exception to this was with an older cat that had developed arthritis. She was having trouble getting into the litter boxes and began urinating in front of the box. We made a box that was easy for her to get into but she still would not use it. We were getting very tired of cleaning cat urine!
We finally figured out that in addition to having trouble getting into the box, the actual litter seemed to be causing discomfort to her tender feet! We made a litter box with the opening cut all the way to the floor and lined it with Puppy Piddle Pads used in housebreaking puppies.
These pads are soft and designed to absorb liquid. Though we had to change the pads several times a day as she would shred them in an attempt to cover her waste, we felt it was worth it to avoid cleaning cat urine off the floor several times a day. The box was much easier to clean. And, for us, the best part was allowing her to have some of her dignity back in her ‘golden years’!
So, if you are having a problem with inappropriate elimination, don’t give up on the cat. Try to see things from her perspective. And until you figure it out, Keep plenty of supplies on hand for cleaning cat urine, keep the litter boxes clean, give your cats plenty of love, and keep trying! Usually, a solution can be found for any inappropriate elimination problem!