Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

The dreaded litter box. You love your cat, but you don’t so much love scooping the litter box, and then one day you come home and the smell of cat urine hits you in the face. Or you are religious scooper and yet somewhere, somehow your feline friend has decided to pee somewhere outside the box and you are still assaulted by the aroma of ammonia when you walk in the door.

In reality, cat urine doesn’t necessarily smell any worse than any other kind of urine, but unlike most other types of pee, cat pee hangs out for a bit before we dispose of it. Cat pee consists of urea, urobilin/urobilinogin, uric acid, sodium, other electrolytes, creatinine, pheromones and bacteria. The first step in the decomposition of the pee, is bacteria breaks down the urea (which is actually odorless) releasing ammonia, hence the strong ammonia scent associated with your litter box.

What About Cat Urine Smells?

The really stinky component of cat pee falls under the category of “pheromones.” Male cats and in particular “intact” male cats can have a high level of felinine in their urine. Felinine does initially have some scent to it, but as it breaks down, it gets stinkier and stinkier. This means that when a cat marks their territory in the wild, their scent doesn’t dissipate quickly, which is great for a wild cat, but not great for a domestic cat owner. This is also the part of cat pee that doesn’t get washed away with typical household cleaners. A quick Google search will reveal endless options of enzyme cleaners that will break down and neutralize the sulfur-based compounds.

Cats

If your cat’s pee is super smelly it can also be a symptom of a medical issue. If scent of your cat’s pee seems to have changed, get him checked out by your veterinarian to rule out a problem. Also take him to the vet if they START GOING OUTSIDE THE BOX, which can also indicate illness.

And to keep the stink at bay, get your male cats fixed which not only reduces the amount of pheromones in the urine, but also reduces the likelihood of them spraying. Keep the litter box clean and make sure there are enough boxes in the house for the number of cats your have (one per cat, plus one).

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