Thursday, June 23, 2011


Ask a Clean Person: Get Rid of Your Cats, Seriously, They Are Revolting

I have a cleaning etiquette question! Say that you are a frequent cat-sitter. In addition to cat care, and respectful treatment of the apartment, and all that good stuff, say you want to improve the cat-owner's (or the cat's) living conditions? My question is: what is appropriate to clean and not clean?

I'm thinking fair game is things like scrubbing shower curtains, or kitchen cabinets, or certainly stoves. Or buying new litterboxes. But I also think that cleaning of the spaces of others can be intrusive or even hostile or insulting! How far can I go, to inspire delight without committing insult or bad feelings?

This is a really, really tricky one, because yes you do run the risk of being invasive and offending. And there is absolutely no way to give a definitive answer, because what one person finds intrusive and insulting another will find welcome and thoughtful. Hell, the same person might find the gesture insulting one day and welcome the next! People! They are so pesky, what with their moods and traits and differences and such.

Here's what I've done in the past (where, granted, the catsitting was done in an already pretty clean home): Cleaned the bathroom and kitchen surfaces to gleaming, swept/mopped floors, cleaned out a refrigerator (not, like, a full deep clean but I've tossed things, wiped a grungy surface, put things back inside in an orderly fashion). My logic is this: In the course of staying there I dirtied the bathroom, used the kitchen and may have noticed spoiled items in the fridge. I also may have gone to the grocery store and while putting things away done a wee bit of reorganization. Right? All normal activities that justify a cleaning! (Also, if you’re staying in someone’s home you’re cleaning the bathroom and kitchen up before you leave, yes? Yes. OK good, just checking.)

Here's what I've not done: Reorganized pantries and spice racks, utility closets, or under sink areas. That's crossing a line I think that can't really be justified with an "Oh so sorry — while I was here I spilled a whole pitcher of Crystal Light in the fridge and had to clean the whole damn thing out! I hope you didn't think I was being a crazy clean freak!!!"-style fib.

But back to that point on the nature of the individual: The best advice I can give is to make a judgement call based on how much you know about the person whose home you’re in, whose cat you’re minding and proceed from there. That is so vague! I am sorry! But if the home belongs to your most high-strung friend, who is currently in Jamaica getting her groove back after an ugly divorce and 45-pound weight gain then maybe just leave things be? If it belongs to the most laid-back person you know, who is currently in Jamaica getting even more laid-back than usual then by all means BLEACH AWAY. BLEACH WITH IMPUNITY! Just don’t bleach the litterbox (we’ll get to that)!

But cripes, if the litterbox is growing fur or the shower curtain liner is covered in mildew and a week of having it potentially touch you in your Beulah is more than you can take, replace the damn thing. Just leave a little note, perhaps even one that contains a lie (DON’T LIE, LYING IS BAD, YOU LYING LIAR) like, “I noticed Fluffy’s box had a split along the side, so I replaced it!” or “I slipped in the shower and tore the liner clear off the rod — I bought you a new one, so sorry, I hope you weren’t attached!”

Jolie, cat pee on carpeting. Does anything actually ever get rid of the smell?

I do not allow living things other than myself — human, plant or animal — into my home as a general rule, so I consulted noted cat- and carpet-owner Choire Sicha for his thoughts on this rather common dilemma:

Cat pee on carpeting is pretty fucking bad.

I mean, I just scrub it like 80 times with a strong but organic soap. But! Synthetic carpets and real carpets are different animals. (Quite literally: carpets made of actual animal hair-based fibers clean differently — and they are alive and they breathe and they must be treated well. For real carpets, the answer is best addressed by a professional.) But most modern carpets are actually petroleum byproducts. And are therefore easier to clean — the stink doesn't actually saturate the "fibers" which just need to be extensively washed, which is hard if the carpet is "installed" and you can't force water through it. It's usually best if you can pull it up from one side because of course a liquid will saturate any padding beneath the carpet or also remain on the floor. In lieu of forcing water and soap "through" the carpet, it's just scrub and wet, dry, repeat, followed by a bonding carpet cleaner and vacuuming.



(Choire’s disdain of Febreze thrills me to my soul.)

I followed up to ask if he had a favorite brand of “strong but organic soap” and I got this:


Well I was a HUGE fan of those witches who made the what ya call it, you know who I mean, they had a broom on everything — oh, CALDREA! But didn't they sell the company? To, I dunno, GE Westinghouse Kibbles and Bits or something? (Oh: SC Johnson. But you know, so what, I guess.)

Our household also prefers an original castile soap for nearly all forms of cleansing. LOL.

So OK! There’s one approach, any of you cat-having ladies have other suggestions for our friend with the pee-pee carpet? The only things I would add are 1. enzymatic cleaners and 2. carpet steamers. Oh and! Don’t use ammonia or ammonia-based products, as cats are attracted to the scent of pee-pee (LOL EW), which contains ammonia, and they’ll just piddle in the spot where you ammonia’d.

This one should be fairly simple, but I'm flummoxed.  What is a foolproof system for keeping a litterbox from smelling?  Extenuating circumstances — two elderly cats one of whom has a thyroid problem (being treated) that makes him pee a bit more than your average cat and the fact that I'm away for 36-48 hours a couple of times a month.  My roommate can feed the little guys but I don't expect him to scoop the litter.  I did get some kind-of-exciting psychedelic blue "Tidy Step Crystals" that have helped keep the problem more under control, but even with daily scooping the smell goes instantly from non-existent to OH-MY-GOD-WHAT-KIND-OF-CRACKHOUSE-AM-I-LIVING-IN? levels of stench at some incredibly-difficult-to-pinpoint (ahead of the time) instant.  Please help.

Welllllllll. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your roommate is going to have to start scooping. If this is something that he is going to balk at because it wasn’t part of the living arrangement social contract you two worked out, then you’re going to have to find a way to make it worth his while. (Presumably living in a not-pee-pee-smelling home isn’t enough of an incentive.) Pay him in beer? Pick up the entire cable bill? Whatever, you talk to him and work it out.

Here are some other things you should try out, in addition to scooping every single day.

  1. Unless you have a cat who has stated his or her desire for low litter, the litter should fill half the box — more isn’t better, and the cats won’t like it. Less won’t be enough.
  2. Once a week, empty the box entirely and wash it with dish soap, preferably unscented. Cats have a much keener sense of smell than we do and might reject the box experience altogether if they encounter an unpleasant-to-them odor.
  3. Before refilling the box with fresh litter, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda along the bottom of the box. The baking soda smell won’t offend the delicate olfactory sensibilities of your dear feline friends, and it will help with odor absorption. (Also I’m contractually obligated to mention baking soda at least once per column and I’m getting to the end of things here.)
  4. Keep the litterbox far away from any heat sources, as heat will heighten smells — as anyone who’s ever spent a summer in New York can attest.

A final word here about bleach: Do not use any bleach-based products when dealing with litterboxes, because, as I mentioned up-column, pee-pee is ammonia-ish, and as we’ve discussed before ammonia + bleach = A BIG NO-NO. (Also vinegar + bleach, also a no-no.) And won’t you think about poor Fluffy and her overly sensitive sense of smell? Right, eschew bleach. (The hippies are so happy right now. Bah.)

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you looking for a green alternative to the suggestions found here? Because we’ve got some! More importantly: Is anything you own dirty?

179 Comments / Post A Comment


There is literally no way whatsoever to get the smell of cat pee out of a rug. Trust me, I tried EVERYTHING when my now departed cat peed on a rug that saved and spend tons of money on - my dream rug - and I mean it when I say I literally tried every trick in the book and gallons of Nature's Miracle before giving up and throwing it away in disgust. It broke my heart.

Any advise for getting cat vomit stains out of couch fabric? She really did a number on it and I'd like to get rid of it but who wants a practically brand new couch with barf stains on it?

The moral of this story is do not own cats, they will destroy everything you love. Oh, and this is why I cannot have nice things.



Though the Nature's Miracle could not vanquish your cat pee smell (that cat must be eating asparagus!), it is often very good for vomit stains. However, I've only used it on fresh, damp puke spots, so I'm not sure what effect it might have on an old dry stain. Maybe super-saturate and see what happens?


@City_Dater I bought a steamer (!!!) but I'm guessing I'll need a cleaning agent as well. The nature's miracle took the barf smell out but not the stain.


@parallel-lines Heh. Cats do ruin everything, but they are adorable so I can't blame them. We had a cat that ruined my mother's very expensive, just re-upholstered sofa. It was one of those nice pin-cushion backs, just perfect for kitties little claws.


cat pee on carpet: have you tried hydrogen peroxide? the usual, medication-grade (10 to 12 vol) is OK. be careful for discolouring (test in a hidden corner of the carpet before), squeeze/spray some on the previously cleaned area and let dry. miracle!!
(It took out cat pee smell from feather pillows - I thought that nothing would!)


@fuzzyleo i was wondering if that would work - since it seems to do a decent job on most protein stuff.


@teenie, it definitely does! mind the colours, though.


@fuzzyleo Yeah, it stripped the carpet of color and unfortunately, since the cat could smell the pee she insisted on re-peeing over the spots that I had tried to clean (this is a thing cats do! They will pee on something if they smell urine and ruin it forever. They are evil!)


@parallel-lines There is a spray with the terrible name of Urine Off that absolutely works. (It is one million miles ahead of Nature's Miracle.)
http://www.urineoff.com/estore/index.php/ it is astonishing.


@parallel-lines, maybe the cat just didn't like the carpet... ;)


@fuzzyleo Yes, this cat was definitely opposed to danish midcentury. She could ruin an Eames chair with the best of them (cry!)


@City_Dater My cat loves asparagus!


@theharpoon : A) You guys, FOLEX. It is a big spray bottle, and it is awesome. It's gotten ketchup, candle soot, and numerous mystery stains out of rugs, carpet, and fabric for me.

B) Professional carpet cleaning is like $120 minimum, and that'll get like one room. A bad-ass 12-amp Hoover SteamVac is about $140, and holy hell this thing is amazing. When you empty the dirty sucked-up water, it looks like MUD, god, where is all this dirt COMING from, I just steam cleaned two weeks ago. Seriously, I will never be without one of these again.


Since Choire is the cat-sitting superstar, I'm going to think that first one is him.


I am allergic and terrified of cats, this post's title validates all of my feelings towards felines.


@shenannies agreed!

of course, i have an old senior citizen dog who pees and poops everywhere because i guess she's incontinent now? so my dislike of cats and adoration of dogs is just arbitrary i suppose


@redheadedandcrazy No it's not, dogs are amazing.


@shenannies and redheadedandcrazy
Dog people, my sisters/brothers! So I used to just think I disliked cats because I was allergic and they do that demonic claw flexing thing to your legs when you're just trying to be nice to them.

But this morning I was running around my neighborhood and a cat was sitting in a driveway just STARING at me. Like, the cat did not move but it followed me with it's head, putting some kind of weird cat hex on my soul. So now I'm mildly afraid of them.


@nogreeneggs I mean, I get it to some extent... I'll play with my friend's cats (although I also have insane allergies which definitely contributes). But I just can't fawn over a cute kitten the way that I can go apeshit over a cute little dog.

I know this is so off topic but sometimes I like to ruin my entire work day by looking at dogs that are up for adoption, and spend hours weeping over my inability to take them ALLLL home with me.


@redheadedandcrazy Ahh the adoption dogs! My boyfriend and I are "looking in to adopting" so all I do is send him links to Petfinder for every single dog within a 50 mile radius. He's afraid of dog-commitment though, so it'll probably be a while. :(

And I don't like hate cats or anything, but why was that cat staring at me like that this morning?! Such a creep.

fondue with cheddar

@redheadedandcrazy I'm definitely a cat person (and not just because I'm allergic to dogs), but I do think puppies are cuter than kittens.


@nogreeneggs Rep-ra-ZENT! Dog people, that is

tiny dancer

@nogreeneggs I've just started staring back at the various demon cats I know. They usually look away, which makes me hope that they didn't steal my soul in the process or anything. Ugh, cats. I refuse to believe they are as smart as the cat-lovers say. The one in my apartment doesn't properly cover its business and it stinks and is disgusting. blech.


@nogreeneggs I think one of my favorite things about cats is how creepy they can be.


@nogreeneggs There is a white fluffy cat whose owners keep letting out in my apartment complex who RAN OUT FROM A BUSH AND TRIED TO ATTACK MY DOG. I am not kidding. I screamed and ran toward it because I was going to throw myself on the filthy, rabid animal to save my corgi-chihuahua. It ran back into the bush and now my dog is mesmerized/frightened by that area. Then, a few months later, Same Cat was sitting on someone's porch rail just glaring at my dog as we walked by. When Mr. Mulder saw him, he walked on the opposite side of me. Cats are evil.

Except for my friends' cats, who stay inside and like to play with Mr. Mulder when we come to visit.


My mother's advice: cats are bad luck and birds have diseases.

We had a lot of bad luck.

Lily Rowan

I know (I KNOW) that bleach + cat pee is Bad News, but how else should I be cleaning my bathroom tile floor, after the cat pees on it? Currently, I just bleach it out and pretend I'm not getting poisoned by the fumes...


@Lily Rowan I've had good success with "Nature's Miracle" for cat pee, also there is a natural product called "Simple Solution", haven't tried it though - both have enzymes that break down the pee, or something.


@Lily Rowan

Nature's Miracle! When I had a cat, I always used it to clean up after his various passive-aggressive weirdnesses (like "missing" the box because it wasn't clean enough to suit him) and it was effective. Really puddle it on the spot and let it sit for a while.

Lily Rowan

I've used Nature's Miracle on soft surfaces, but will it make the grout white again?


@Lily Rowan: again, hydrogen peroxide. it WORKS!
(my cat misses her aim too, sometimes)
wash with whatever, then use a sponge soaked in 10 or 12 vol H2O2. let dry.

Lily Rowan

@fuzzyleo OK, I will try it! Obvs I have hydrogen peroxide in my bathroom already.


@Lily Rowan I use diluted white vinegar, which seems to work pretty well.


@Lily Rowan Ummmm. Isn't hydrogen peroxide bleach?

Lily Rowan

@iceberg It's not chlorine bleach, and I bet it's the chlorine that reacts with the ammonia?


@Lily Rowan @iceberg Bleach is just a generic term for a variety of compounds that will break down bonds between carbons and/or oxygens. Hydrogen Proxide is one type of bleach and is the main ingredient in oxygen bleach. Commercial "bleach" is sodium chloride, a salt.


@Lily Rowan ah. I'm not a chemist, you're probably quite right! glad you're not poisoning yourself.

Hot mayonnaise

@DrFeelGood: Wait, sodium chloride (NaCl) is table salt. Wiki says bleach is sodium hypochlorite.


@Hot mayonnaise err you are right. I just remembered it being a salt.

Hot mayonnaise

@DrFeelGood: I can't make it for dinner tomorrow. Something just came up.


@Hot mayonnaise hehe. What you don't like my bleach soup? :(


Jolie... GURL, you are welcome to come and house-sit (no cats, even) my house ANYTIME. I'll leave out the mop, vacuum, rags etc. Man, I can't even get that pumped to clean my own house, much less a friend's :)


The air has been damp for the better part of two straight days, and I actually had to wear a jacket to work, a day after the start of summer. Like a bad memory come back to life, the ghostly apparition of spring reaches its waterlogged tentacles past the boundary of the solstice and tortures us one more time. I don't think I'll see the sun for another three days at least, and I can already feel my bones weaken for want of vitamin D.

And yet, I open the Hairpin, and I see in bold type on the top of the page, "Get Rid of Your Cats, Seriously, They Are Revolting," and the world seems reenchanted. Thank you, Jolie.

raised amongst catalogs

@boyofdestiny If you began a novel with that first paragraph, I would buy said novel.


@vanillawaif Dammit. Now that I know I've got a sale, I have to go write the thing.


@boyofdestiny, are you a loather of cats? Take it back, or there won't be any recipe for goat cheese ice cream with date syrup (bacon and marcona almonds optional) in an upcoming HP article.


@wallsdonotfall @wallsdonotfall I don't loathe cats. I'll pet your cat. I'll enjoy letting your cat sit on my lap. But the actual ownership of a cat is a mystery to me. It just seems too gross. If a cat person can stand having a cat around, great! It's just not for me.


@boyofdestiny Owning a cat broke me of being a cat person. It's all true - the pee smell, the hair everywhere. Oh god, I am so with you in solidarity.


@parallel-lines I'm a dog person, but I'm not one of these militant anti-cat zealots. As I was explaining in a conversation just yesterday, petting a cat makes me feel like Dr. Claw, so I can't be a hater!

However, comma, I'm put in mind of an incident at the apartment of a friend of a friend. We went there after coming home from the bars, and I had to pee real bad. So I go into the bathroom, and they have one of those toilet-seat litter boxes. I guess they're for the purpose of training your cat to go in the toilet? Anyway, there's obviously some mechanism for removing this thing, but I was drunk, and no one had warned me, so I kinda had to just lift it off myself, and some of the litter got on my hands. Ugh, I was so freaked out. I'm getting the shivers just retelling this story.

raised amongst catalogs

@boyofdestiny Consider my two cents your advance?


@boyofdestiny so people really do this toilet training thing! MADNESS! I want to see it in action. And I don't just mean a youtube video, I want to go drunk to somebody's house and find this contraption and marvel over it. But not touch it. Definitely not touch it - couldn't you have just peed on the litter box? Am I terrible for thinking that?


@redheadedandcrazy I had to pee REALLY bad. So it was either take the time to consider the ethical implications of peeing in a litter box in someone else's home, or take radical action to get the box outta there. The question had less urgency once I had finished up, so I never revisited it.

Tammy Pajamas

@redheadedandcrazy I actually tried this for a while. I finally gave up when I brought a guy home one night. We were drunk, he was not a native English speaker, and explaining the whole thing just seemed way too complicated. So I didn't. I believe he peed through the hole? And I bought a litter box the next day.


I have lived in waaaay too small apartments with cats for so long I have so much advice for the third person!

Arm & Hammer Double Duty cat litter is THE BEST litter I have ever bought, period. It has baking soda in it already! It controls smells better than any litter, seriously. The only downside is god knows what it's made of (other than baking soda), so if you want something organic/environment-friendly it is probably not acceptable.

There's also a litterbox system that uses soft pellets and a two-tray system with a pee pad underneath that is supposedly amazing for cat pee smell. Unfortunately, you then enter the world of cat poop smell.

And for the person with the carpet covered in cat pee, I'm sorry, but my cat only pukes on my carpet.


@antarcticastartshere Even better than the crystals? THE CRYSTALS ARE AMAZING.


@heb BETTER THAN THE CRYSTALS, also I think cheaper.


@antarcticastartshere Yeah I am getting ready to switch from the crystals because of expensiveness and also I'm worried that they're going to give my cat cancer or something (that worry is totally not based on any Facts that I am aware of).

Lindsay Gordon@facebook

@antarcticastartshere TRUTH! ARM AND HAMMER DOUBLE DUTY IS THE BEST. PREACH! PREACH FRIENDS! I also douse it with that arm and hammer kitty touch up powder every time I scoop, which is every other day (I only have one cat and he is just under a year old).

elysian fields

Whatever, guys. Cats are the BOMB. There is absolutely nothing better on earth than cuddling with a nice fluffy cat. This excuses any amount of barf/pee/scratching up the furniture etc.

I am legit afraid that my bf and I will never be able to move in together because we are on opposite sides of the cats vs. dogs debate and there is no armistice in sight.


@elysian fields He hasn't warmed up to them yet? Maybe give it some time for him to spend some quality time with your feline, my guy was a serious cat hater when we first met, now he's begging me to get one, even though he's allergic.

elysian fields

@DrFeelGood no, he's been around my friend's cats plenty and he really dislikes them. At the same time he is adamant that we will get a dog, whereas I am adamant that I will NEVER EVER live under the same roof as a dog. Problem!


@elysian fields hmm.. that is a predicament. Goldfish? 1 cat, 1 dog? No pets?

elysian fields

@DrFeelGood I would rather have no pets than live with a dog (shudder), so now I'm campaigning for no animals of any kind.


@elysian fields Who says you HAVE to live with your partner? I can't stand dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, fish, plants, or boyfriends in my living space. I always tell him that maybe one day we can live next door to each other. Think more couples would work out if they lived separately or at least had separate rooms.

elysian fields

@daylightspool uh ... we are planning to get married and have kids so in that case I don't see how we could live apart? whatever works for you though


@elysian fields @daylightspool Well, there is always Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, or Helena Bonham carter and Tim Burton. For us regular folks, sure I guess it could work. Ladies and mens with separate bedrooms sounds great but there is a certain utility to getting into bed each night with the same person - at the very least it makes it really hard to stay mad for very long when you have to sleep next to each other. PS when we buy a house - I am going to have separate bathroom and closet... I cannot stand sharing a closet!


@DrFeelGood "at the very least it makes it really hard to stay mad for very long when you have to sleep next to each other.".


; )


@iceberg haha. Ok yea ask me in 20 years, the answer might be different.


@elysian fields Why are dogs shudder-inducing? Is it a fear of yours? I've had just cats & just dogs and I've lived with a dude who brought the cat, whilst I'm the girl with the dog. But our animals did just fine together. Monty the cat ruled the roost, and Oscar the dog just chilled out, letting Monty have his way.. like standing stock still whenever Monty would deign to rub against him and such. They were good boys
together.. so maybe you and the future mr. elysian can work it out with your blended pet fam?

elysian fields

@lids yes, I have been terrified of dogs since I was a little kid. I also cannot stand the sound of barking, the way dogs smell, the panting and slobbering ... ugh.


Hi, I'm #3's roommate (I'm not, I'm not, calm down) and so my roommate has these weird old cats. Sometimes he can't be home to take care of them for extended periods of time...and I'd totally help, but he hasn't even asked me. He just kind of leaves them there and I feed them and stuff but the smell builds up while he's away and it's awful...does he hate me?? Please help. Our apartment smells like pee EVERY DAY. Barf barf barf.


@SlapHappyPappy Say something. No seriously, say something because that's really not cool and no one should have to live in urine stench.


@SlapHappyPappy I've been in this situation soo many times... Seriously, why get a cat and then just decide to basically live at your boyfriend/girlfriend's? I had one roommate who would leave without notice for 4-5 days at a time. I'd eventually call to make sure she wasn't dead. Anyway. I usually cleaned the litter and then would make passive aggressive comments about the "poor cat" and of course, this is the best course of action.


@parallel-lines Oh, I'm just flipping question #3. I don't know why he/she would leave the litter that long...that's nastay. My roommate does have cats, and sometimes it smells, which is when I say, "It smells like piss in our living room." Problem solved!


@DrFeelGood No letting the cat starve to death and then mailing the body to the boy-girlfriend's house?? Kidding! Just kidddiiinnng I've never done that. See also: moving litterbox into roommate's bedroom.


@SlapHappyPappy I never did that, I uh, just heard about someone who did. Yea.... that's what they ALL say.


my mom has two cats in a literal pissing contest with each other. it's gotten so bad that the last time my sister and i went to visit her, we couldn't hang out in the house. i asked if she would let me come down to try to pinpoint the smell in her small 2 bedroom townhome, so i'm doing that this weekend. questions:
- do blacklights work on finding old cat piss?
- how can i tell my mom that she's tried everything, and she won't be a bad cat mommy for finding a better home for one of the pissers? like really - you may have to have your home condemned if this keeps up?


no way

@teenie Black lights work. I have no advise on getting rid of an animal.


@teenie Did she try kitty Prozac? If they are peeing because of each other, it should work. After a while, they may even be able to come off it. I had a cat who began peeing on everything - velvet sofa (sob) the bed, my favorite linen shirt - because we took in one too many cats, and I was on the point of taking him for a drive in the countryside and leaving him there, but the vet said try the Prozac. It worked amazingly well.


@dabbyfanny thanks for replying - yeah, she's done EVERYTHING, prozac, sedatives, VERY creative litterbox formations/numbers, excluding the cat from certain parts of the house, separating the cats, extensive blood/urine tests, feliway plug ins. Nothing has worked. I was a vet tech for 8 years, so I've tried to help her the best I can, but... there just seems to be no single solution or combination of things that will stop it.

She takes pet ownership VERY seriously, as we all do, but I think that after 2 years of this, it may be time to find him a home, where he's the only cat :-( poor guy.


@teenie As someone who does cat rescue, even I admit it's occasionally best for the cats to find a new home for one of them in a situation like your mom's. She might be convinced with a "for the sake of the animal's health" argument. If so, there are good and ethical ways to find new homes for animals (carefully and slowly), and bad and evil ways to find new homes (FREE CAT on Craigslist, putting the cat out to live in a national park, etc). To do it ethically, screen the person adopting the cat extensively, and actually follow up -- call the references and check that the apartment actually allows pets, for instance. Then do an adoption contract and follow up even after the transfer.

Most importantly, it sounds like your mom is willing to do anything for this cat, including holding onto it while she finds a good new home and staying in touch with the new people, which will help keep the cat safe and out of the shelter. Best of luck -- it sounds like a very tough situation.

PS -- Nature's Miracle is a total crock. The only the stuff that works on cat pee in my experience is called Anti-Icky-Poo, which one can order from Amazon. It claims to be able to get rid of odor from corpses, AND I BELIEVE THIS CLAIM. Terrifyingly effective stuff.


@Quinciferous I agree Quinciferous - and I think this is the tack I need to take with her. If the cat is marking like this, and there are no medical issues, it really is likely to be a sign of anxiety - and do you really want this little man to be so anxious he's marking incessantly? After going through a heart-breaking rehoming of my doberman after some really horrible/difficult life circumstances (

And thanks for the tip on Anti-icky-poo... I've had this feeling (not just now, in the past as well) that nature's miracle was kind of a crock - not totally ineffective, but not the MIRACLE everyone thinks it is - like they've gotten everyone addicted to a cleaner with added placebo that it's the best thing for cat piss ever? maybe it's just me.


whoah, my post got truncated somehow? anyway, I had to rehome my doberman, and went through a very thorough process with that, and 3 years later it's still a very successful rehome - hooray! so hopefully my mom will let me help her find a home for this little guy.

Hello Dolly

@Quinciferous This is a bit off topic, but on your mention of rehoming a pet by letting it out into the wild, a guy told me yesterday he got rid of his kids' hamsters by taking the cage outside and opening the door, letting them run free into the backyard/forest. I could not believe it! The kids didn't even notice, so he said. Those poor hamsters.


@noodge @Quinciferous This thread has been very helpful to me. Have you found a new home for your mom's cat?


@noodge @Quinciferous This thread has been very helpful to me. Have you found a new home for your mom's cat?


I had a roommate once who would re-arrange my and my other roommates' wardrobes INCLUDING UNDERWEAR DRAWERS while I was out. Like she would fold my knickers. And completely rearrange the kitchen so when you came home you would be searching about twenty minutes for the pasta. So don't do that.


@rayray did you ever confront her and get to the bottom of this? I would be so curious. I guess it's not an easy thing to bring up. Maybe it was some kind of bizarre sleepwalking habit. Or OCD. Or demonic possession? SO CURIOUS.


@rayray OMG. I had a roommate who did all of this (short of going in my bedroom). To the point that I would come home and things that were mine would be in the trash because "we don't need them anymore". Um, okhay? Or you wake up in the morning and the living room was totally re-arranged in the night haha. She claimed dishes calmed her and was an OCD cleaner, the clean part made up for everything else though.


@redheadedandcrazy She was just an all-round control freak, really. Like she would have to know where everyone in our group of friends was all the time, so she could tell other people and look like she was in the loop. To the point where she used to tell one of my best friends what her boyfriend was doing that day. And my friend would be like, er, is he? I haven't spoken to him today.
Eventually I started telling her lies about what I and other people were doing cos I knew it would mess up her surveillance data. Which sounds a bit mean but it was maddening. She still contacts me and asks me how I'm doing but never replies when I ask for her news.
She also claimed she was a cleanliness freak but actually was kind of a slattern when it came to dishes and stuff. Housemates eh? (my stories suck, I am sorry, I am sorry).


Wait, bleach is ok for litter box cleaning as long as you rinse well with soap and super hot water first! I use this method once a month (and when the box is extra gross a soap only cleaning every week (summer) every other week (non- disgustingly hot months): Empty box, soak box with soapy hot hot hot water for 10-15 minutes, rinse with hot water thoroughly, fill box again with hot water and just a few capfuls of bleach and let sit for 20 minutes, rinse very thoroughly with hot water.


Q&A #1 is genuinely crazy. DO NOT TOUCH OR CLEAN ANYTHING IN THE HOUSE WHILE YOU ARE CAT SITTING WITHOUT PERMISSION TO DO SO FROM THE OWNER. Do you seriously think that throwing out a bunch of shit from the fridge is kosher, or that anyone buys the lie that you "spilled Crystal Light" and had to reorganize the damn thing? Don't behave like this without checking with the person! I would seriously punch a friend in the face if I came home after asking someone to cat sit for me and my kitchen was reorganized in some way, or my shower curtain was thrown out?

Like, seriously, seriously, seriously do not do this unless you know the person really well and are certain they are ok with this. The best way to be certain is say, "Hey, I will sweep up while you are gone so you don't have to worry about it when you come back!" or something to that effect.

Also, what kind of cat sitting are you people doing that involves showering in the cat sitee's place? Are you...traveling to cat sit? Please explain more.


@allyzay, it's pretty common to do a combo cat/house sitting. I cat sit semi-regularly, and about half the time I'm requested to stay at the person's house to keep the cat company.


@allyzay Yes! It's totally nuts. Leave it the way you found it, or don't cat-sit. You're too crazy to cat-sit. And never ever babysit, jesus maria y jose.


@allyzay I house/cat sit for my aunt and uncle when they go to their vacation house for a week at a time, and even though I'd be there twice a day to look after them, they don't like the cats to be left alone overnight. I think it's crazy too, but it's like a vacation for me as well because I live at home. A vacation with two angry slashers who hover over the corners of the litter box to pee like so many drunk sorority girls at your local ultra lounge.

And this brings me to a gripe of mine: If you're going to have someone stay at your home to look after things while you're away, you should take 15 minutes to tidy up your place before your sitter gets there. Vacuum up the tumbleweeds of pet hair, sweep up the strewn-about kitty litter if your cat box is out in the open, wipe down the counters, pour some bleach in the toilet, etc.

Jolie Kerr

@allyzay The question was asked by a person who was staying in the person's home while catsitting. The answer was based on that. If you're staying in someone's home for a week you wouldn't throw out rotting food if you saw it? You're minding the home as much as the cat, IMO.


@SlapHappyPappy haha. Most parents I think would kiss the ground you walked on if you babysat AND cleaned at the same time :)

Jolie Kerr

@allyzay Also you seemed to have REALLY missed the part where I said it was an INCREDIBLY touchy thing to do and to judge based on whose home you're in? I dunno. I think you need a trip to Jamaica, sister.



This seems as extreme as the underwear-drawer rearranger! I think reasonable people can agree on a line between alphabetizing the spice rack, and tidying up the crumbs on the counter and the toothpaste residue in the sink. I guess some good advice would be that if you're not comfortable with someone tidying up your home, you might not want people in your home messing things up in the first place.


@allyzay I basically agree. Some amount of tidying up seems normal - certainly cleaning up any mess you yourself made - but reorganizing things is COMPLETELY out of line. Just because you the catsitter or whoever doesn't think the way I've organized my home makes sense or even is organized at all doesn't mean I haven't carefully chosen to do that based on my preferences and how I like to do things in my kitchen or whatever! I mean, throw out spoiling food, sure, but I would be genuinely offended and annoyed to come home to find out you've decided that my pots and pans need to go in a different cabinet, and that my silverware needs to be on the right. I put it there for a reason.

Jolie Kerr

@lesleygee Which is exactly what my answer said? Was "that's crossing a line" in re reorganizing someone's pantry not clear?


@Jolie Kerr Yes! It is! I basically agree with everything you said, but I wanted to emphasize how much of an invasion that would be, for any well-meaning clean people to whom that line seems easy to miss. Especially since messy people often seem like they don't have an organization to their home. I have four big piles of papers on my coffee table. A clean person coming in to check on my cat might think it's doing my a favor to pile those piles together, but each one represents a different stage in my research, so I would be annoyed. (Naturally, I would point this out to anyone staying in my house but sometimes people forget.)

Or for another example. My sister came to stay with me while I recovered from surgery, and she very kindly made me soup. She also cleaned up my kitchen a bit, which, okay, fine. But she also decided that my knife block should be on a different counter, and my drying rack also needed to be moved, and so on and so forth. Maybe it looked like my countertops were cluttered with these things, but I was not happy and moved it all back and was also kind of offended at the suggestion I was not running my kitchen the right way.

ANYWAY the point I'm trying to make (to anyone, not to you in particular Jolie) is: sometimes the ways in which a messy person is organized in their particular way is not clear; anybody staying in a messy person's home and wishing to do cleaning should be aware that re-organizing "clutter" might actually be equivalent to re-organizing a pantry in terms of invasion/violation/offense.


@lesleygee I could not agree more. Also, to a messy person, a random person coming in and cleaning can be seen as such passive aggressive judgment "You are too much of a slob to replace that shower curtain liner, but here, I did it for you!" And it's really a pain to have to find stuff where you knew exactly where they were, because someone thought that they were in the wrong place and cleaned them up for you.


In a small-ish 3rd floor apartment with 2 cats and feeble air circulation abilities, I'm proud to say that our lack of "cat box smell" is remarked upon by all of our visitors.
We use cedar chips for litter and they're CHEAP and effective. The layer of baking soda really helps, too.

mademoiselle cait

@supergirlieque Does the cedar chip litter track? I used to use pine and had all sorts of problems with it sticking to kitty's feet and fur and tracking all over everything, so I've switched to crystal.


Ok, the cat litter question here is really quite easy and I have to say I disagree with all the weekly cleaning and baking soda advice. No need for all the bs, just 1) use fresh step scoopable litter and 2) keep it very shallow, about 1 inch or even less. If you put the box next to your toilet and scoop it when you're in there anyway to do your own potty business, then it will stay fresh and clean, no problem. When you are scooping, be gentle so you don't break the clumps and leave gross pee residue in there. I've had large numbers of cats and only one box with this method, and never a smell. You don't believe me, but I promise, it's true.

no way

@Grace Probably shouldn't flush it - fresh step is not a flushable litter, and your pipes may hate you. Also, if your cats go outside ever there's the whole Toxoplasma gondii issue.


@Grace Um... but people who have cats cannot smell their own cat-induced funkyness in their places unless they're like, right on top of it. My friends who have cats that I've house-sat for.. totally reeks in the cat bathroom. I don't care how clean/fresh the litter is..


@Grace Yes on the Fresh Step. Litter is one area that you cannot be cheap on.


I live in a 260 sq ft studio with 2 cats and a boy. It is crowded! But Feline Pine is really great for cat pee smell! It has sort of an on the farm smell when its fresh but I seriously never smell pee unless one of the little fuckers pees outside the box. This was a problem for awhile and the combo of Feliway plug-ins and F.O.N. spray (both on Amazon) helped quite a lot too. Cat puke stains on the couch are another story. I've given up.


@fancypants yes! feline pine! you can get a cheaper version at Trader Joe's. You will never ever smell the box.


@fancypants Yes Yes Yes to Feline Pine/Trader Joes knockoff. If you have a cat pee smell problem its the BEST because the pee turns to the pine nubs to dust and the two tray thing sifts them to the bottom. The turds just sit on top and you can scoop and toss em. It's the best!!!!

no way

Questioner #3 - there is always the automatic litter box option, or the kind you roll, like this, which wouldn't be so bad for the roommate to deal with.

sarah girl

@no way Note that the rolling litter box is AWFUL for pee clumps, especially if your cat pees a lot.


A++ internet shit-stirring headline. Sleep with one eye open or the oversized-glasses-wearing contingent of tumblr will have your head on a UO novelty "native"-style pike


Enzyme odor remover, not just cleaner. Best is the kind you mix with water the right temperature and have to use within a certain length of time. It's live bugs in there, and they eat cat piss. Rally works. Cats are awesome, Febreeze is nasty.


I really like the little pine pellet cat litter, personally. My antique thyroidally gifted cat pisses about 80 times a day but the pine scent arm-wrestles the pee scent to the ground. Feline Pine is a good one. And it's so much less gross than that clumping clay stuff that gets clay particulate powder all in the air when you pour it in. GAG. However, the little pine pellets hurt like Legos when you step on them.

Rebecca K.@twitter

Nature's Miracle worked for me back in the day. I had a cat pee in my apartment years ago and Nature's Miracle SAVED me. Also? Get hardwood floors. They don't like to pee on them so even if you are a lazy cat owner they won't pee on the wood unless they are sick.
/internet rumor says that Nature's Miracle changed their formula several years ago so they might have ruined themselves/

FELINE PINE litter! OMG! It's God's Gift to cat owners. The pine naturally neutralizes the ammonia in cat pee. It's the best for odor elimination.

Also? People! If your cat is peeing outside the box SOMETHING IS WRONG and get that poor animal to a vet. Do some research. There is a reason your kitty is broken. Fix it!


@Rebecca K.@twitter: true, healthy cats usually don't pee outside their box... when mine did, she had bladder stones. check every unusual behaviour!


#3: so you don't feel so bad about asking your roommate to scoop the litter while you're away, i suggest the omega paw litterbox:

plus, it's an enclosed space so i find that it contains the smell pretty decently


@isaidweresinking I think this is the answer. http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Studio-Litter-Cabinet-Mahogany/dp/B0014M1GWO/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1308844804&sr=8-23 Haha can you imagine, watching TV and your cat is taking a dump underneath?! Also, what cat would put up with that? Most I've had are like excuuuuse me, I am using the facilities, thank you very much!


@#3, you could train your cats to use the toilet. Probably nobody really has time to do such things but apparently it is doable by placing the litter box on the toilet, followed by cutting out gradually larger holes in the middle of the box.

Personally, I can only imagine this ending in having your cat fall into the toilet, which would create an entirely new set of miseries. Although it would be funny to watch.


@redheadedandcrazy I actually kind of looked into that... but was scared off by the warning that once the cat is toilet-only, it's almost impossible to get them back to litter, so once they're old it sounds like a disaster.


@Megoon I guess you would have to reserve one toilet as cat-only, and then maybe attach some kind of rough fabric to the toilet seat? It does sound like there is huge potential for disaster there.


@redheadedandcrazy Apparently Charles Mingus was some sort of cat toilet-training pioneer? Check this out - http://mingusmingusmingus.com/Mingus/cat_training.html

tea tray in the sky.

@sonambula Mingus Mingus Mingus slash Mingus. Not enough Mingi?


Can I forward this to my roommate whose cat I despise? Or would that been seen as cleaning-your-apartment-while-housesitting-since-youre-such-a-disgusting-slob-level insulting?


Oh I also thought of this! I don't know if it would be such a good idea on carpet, but my cat once developed an affinity for peeing in my bathtub. After actually cleaning it I sprayed the tub down with an orange-based cleaner. Cats allegedly hate the smell of oranges and it did break my cat of her habit.

Also, for the roommate thing--maybe buy litter liners and just tell the roommate to dump the whole box every other day? It's super wasteful, but I had a friend who didn't have pets cat-sit for me once and it was the only way I could ask her to clean the box without feeling like a jerk.


@antarcticastartshere One of my cats has been known to do that. He's clever enough to have realised that it's even cleaner than his litter box. Anyway, the easiest thing is to shut them out of the bathroom or even keep 1/4 inch of water in the tub for a while (at least 1 month) if shutting them out isn't possible. Also making the box as attractive as possible keeps them from looking elsewhere for relief.


Re: Having a litter box smell not too bad, try this stuff: http://www.amazon.com/Pee-B-Gone-All-Natural-Digester-Deodorizer/dp/B000FU3200

After you scoop the box, spritz the litter with a few sprays of this stuff. It's one of those pee-smell eating enzyme cleaners, and I thought there's no way that shit would work, but it really does freshen it up between deep-cleanings (but yeah like Jolie said you gotta clean that sucker out once a week to get rid of the nasty grimy stuff). Anyway you can also use the spray on carpet (for smells and medium-bad stains) and it works surprisingly well. GET SOME.


Letter #1, you could probably get away with some light cleaning, like vacuuming or washing the bathroom or something. The person might not even notice it's cleaner, and it would appease your OCD-ness.

Probably definitely never ever rearrange anyone's stuff. Unless you ask. And then still don't. When I moved in with my boyfriend he had an enormous bitch fit because I rearranged the kitchen when I merged my stuff with his. (He had food mixed in with pots and pans though, so really I'm the best thing that's ever happened to him organization-wise.) And that's a person I live with and that gave me permission to mess with his stuff. So definitely do not move anything or throw anything away, even if it is expired.

Ten Thousand Buckets

@nogreeneggs I've been checking in on a (hopefully soon to be former) depressed person's cat, and I think doing anything beyond the basics would make them feel really bad, because their place is a total pit right now. I'm just pretending I haven't noticed. I'll mow the lawn and possibly vacuum, but because I haven't been staying there, that's it.

If the dishes situation was more of a "oh, I haven't the time to wash this small stack of plates before I go", I'd be all over those as well, but there's some stuff from 3 weeks ago in there. Just turning a blind eye to that...


I am really pleased that Jolie and Choire both share my intense hatred of Febreze.

Pound of Salt

But what about cat barf stains on wall-to-wall beige carpeting (both of those things are extremely gross, I know, especially wall-to-wall carpeting)?? I think I will have orangey-pink stains forevah.

Jolie Kerr

@Pound of Salt Stains are actually easier than smells when it comes to cats. Try making an OxiClean paste and applying it to the stains.


I had a friend staying with me right after she left her husband. She was high strung and liked things in order at the best of time, but during the period of high stress when she was staying at my apartment, she was puttering uncontrollably. Which led to her cleaning and reorganizing my kitchen, which I really didn't appreciate. I let it go, what with her impending divorce all, but if you are staying at someone's house, feel free to tidy, but don't start redoing their carefully thought kitchen layout. They will not be happy. This I know.


@batgirl Yeah, some basic cleaning is fine (and actually kind of awesome) but if anyone even THINKS of reorganizing my linen closet or the food in my cabinets, I will cut a bitch.


After years of living with an elderly cat who occasionally pees on horribly hard things to clean LIKE MY MATTRESS, I have become a devotee of Nature's Miracle. There is a trick to using it, though, and that is you have to buy the big jug of it and SOAK whatever it is as soon as you can, then let it air dry completely (which can take forever). You have to really get all of the pee, or it will still smell. Also if you've already tried to wash whatever it is with soap or detergent or whatever you're fucked.

As to the cat-sitting lady, I would be horrified if someone cleaned my apartment while they were cat-sitting, but maybe that's because I am Not A Clean Person and am secretly afraid I'm being judged.


I've been going back and forth on the idea of getting a cat for a few years now (dog person, born and bred, but have grown to not quite hate cats). Next time I'm on the yes side of that fence, I'm just going to come back and reread this column! Thanks, A Clean Person!


@thebestjasmine In my experience, female cats are easier on this front (less spraying) and also, if you get the cat is neutered/spayed as early as possible, they may never find the "urge" to do so. Not saying that these will totally prevent a cat from being a hot mess with the pee, but it may up the chances.


This post has made me feel so lucky that my cat is the freakshow she is. She's like a little furry human; I'm not even kidding. She was a stray, and I took her in after she'd gotten ripped up in a fight, so initially I had to quarantine her to a bedroom for three months until I was sure she didn't have FeLV. Ever since then - we're talking 8-9 years now - she has claimed that room as her own. Her litter box is in there (and it never gets stinky 'cause I empty it twice a day), and her food and water, and two different poofy beds (one high, one low). Even though she has the full run of the house, every night at 9pm she goes to her room, and she doesn't come out again until 7:30 the next morning. Seriously. Even if she's totally sacked out in my lap, once 9pm hits she's like "see ya bitch, gotta get my beauty sleep" and she's gone. And if I try to get her to wake up before 7:30, she gets seriously pissed off.
She's also very tidy, and she only likes to gak on paper, so when she's having hairball issues I just leave a catalog or folded-up newspaper on the floor of her bedroom and she pukes on that. Bonkers.


@monicamcl I love your cat.

the ghost of amy lee

@monicamcl My cat is somewhat similar to yours. We don't have enough space for her to have her own room, but we made her a throne out of a little cabinet thing, and she likes to sleep in bed with us. She gets really impatient if we don't go to bed before 11, and she usually just goes and there and falls asleep before us. She has never peed on anything, and anytime she has to puke, she does it on the kitchen or bathroom floor for easy cleanup. She used to be feral, but she became way tamer after having kittens. She also doesn't shed that much, and is all around cute.


@monicamcl Haha awww, that sounds like my dog. Every night at 9pm you say to him "Want to go to bed?" and he RUNS to his bed and waits for you to tuck him in.


Long time reader, first time commenter, blah blah. Anyway, as a long-time owner of both cats AND dogs (it's possible! really!), I have to say that Nature's Miracle is, indeed, a miracle if you buy the jug of it as someone mentioned above. You seriously have to soak that shit.
Also, Kids N'Pets: you can get it Target, it's pretty cheap, and gets stains and odors out like whoa.http://www.kidsnpetsbrand.com/products.htm. It's all-natural like Nature's Miracle so you don't feel like you're unintentionally chemically fumigating your home.

Sunny Marie@twitter

I've had good luck with the baking soda/white vinegar combo for getting cat pee out of difficult surfaces. I had to clean every soft/absorbent surface in my house after adopting a cat whom the previous owner claimed to have spayed. So as if the cleaning wasn't bad enough, I had to deal with a horny, yowling cat.

But I digress. Anyway, my method is to liberally sprinkle baking soda over the area, then douse it with white vinegar, let it fizz and then once it petered out go over it with the carpet steamer. And repeat. It works *fairly* well. I have had to throw out some things though (like an entire hamper full of laundry, an expensive rolling suitcase, several sets of sheets, a down comforter, all the slipcovers from my couch and several throw pillows).

Also, I've had friends cut out the stained sections of carpet, clean it thoroughly and then replace it, but I'm not sure I'd be that ballsy.


I had to register just to laud two anti-cat-pee products. I have a pee-butt cat and have tried many of them. Right now I am all about Simple Green for Cats. I buy that shit by the gallon and just pour it onto any affected areas, and in with the wash if any sheets/towels/clothes are peed on. Nature's Miracle stopped being effective for me a couple of years ago, so this has taken its place.

Another miracle product I recently discovered is Woolite OxyDeep Power Shot. It will totally get any pet stain out of your carpet, even older ones. Just use a LOT of it. It also claims to be "eco-friendly."


Oh man, as an owner of three cats who recently moved and discovered the hidden mess they'd been making all along, and now share cat cleaning chores with a boyfriend who's never owned felines, I have LOADS of advice here.

LITTER: World's Best Cat Litter. That's what it's called. Made from natural ingredients, none of that awful clay dust, and handles odors like a muthafreakin' CHAMP. I've tried a ton of litters, and this is by far the best.

LITTER ADDITION: Baking soda. I'll sprinkle a bit on the top after I change the litter. Just for extra odor absorption.

LITTERBOX: DIY Litterbox. Turns out my cats have problems peeing within the confines of their box. I tried to solve that by getting a mod looking Booda Dome, but they peed on the seam and that shit (sorry, urine) leaked EVERYWHERE. Solution? 24 gallon Rubbermaid bin with a snap-closure lid. We hacked out a rectangular opening on one of the ends (which included one of the handles) and can now flip open the top with one hand, which is waaay handier than any other covered box. Plus? There is plenty of crappin' space for our three kitties, and no chance of them spilling over. BEST LITTERBOX EVER and it cost a mere $20.

METHOD: Scoop daily. Have incense or that citrus orange spray on hand to briefly cover up that fresh dump smell. Refresh litter a couple times a week. Have a mat at the entrance to restrict litter tracking. Hose that shit off once a month or so.

RESULTS: A cleaner, no stink house, and my boyfriend still loves the cats.


@madamvonsassypants Yes! re: the DIY litterbox. Any container with a larger size is really helpful for when your cat is old/arthritic and has a hard time turning around in smaller places.


@madamvonsassypants That Rubbermaid thing is fucking brilliant. And incense, god yes. Motherwort incense is my method of choice for that.

Elizabeth James@twitter

Can anyone tell me why my cat shits next to the litterbox rather than in it? :*(

marty jones

@Elizabeth James@twitter My cat does this too! Even with a completely fresh litter box. Thankfully I now live at a place where she can be outside. All the time.


@Elizabeth James@twitter Mine did that for ages and we could NOT figure out why. Then we changed to a different type of litter and all was well.


@Elizabeth James@twitter The good news is that Kitty wants to be good and use the box. That's why s/he went next to it - s/he knows it's the right place but there's something about the box that s/he doesn't like. It could be the litter itself (trust that I've done tons of research when I say that clay, anything scented, and those weird blue pearl things are bad news) and you should try clumping corn or wheat based litter; it may be the box (if it's not covered try one of the covered ones but consider removing/taping the door flap out of the way because pushing through can confuse Kitty; if it's covered try an open one), the amount of litter in the box (too much is more common than too little), or finally the location of the box itself (too near Kitty's food or in an area that s/he thinks is exposed or unsafe). It's not unusual for cats to want to toilet near where you do so if you can fit a covered box in the bathroom that might set the cat at ease.

Also make sure you don't use anything scented to clean the box. Cats' sensitive noses can be put off by any smell they find offensive and some components of cleaning products (including anything made with pine, phenols, or petroleum distillates) are dangerous to cats. Baking soda and some boiling water with mild soap is probably best. I use something called Safe 4 but I don't know that it's available in the USA. Simple Green might be the best equivalent.


I have two cats and two litterboxes, but I cannot abide my house smelling bad. I used to use fancy clay litter with sparkles and whatnot and the boxes. always. stunk. I would empty and rinse and scrub and clean, but one piss later my house would smell like Hoarders. Last year I switched to a corn litter (specifically Arm and Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat Litter) AND IT IS LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER. It's made of ground-up corn cobs. There is no dust and hardly any tracking and it smells nice. I still scoop and clean regularly, but the boxes never ever smell. Ever. EVAARRHH


Man. I wouldn't even have a cat that used the toilet unless I had two toilets.


Right now, my cat is sitting on my lap as I read this article, and looking at me like "What? Like YOU'RE not disgusting? I've seen you have sex. This is just revenge."


@LizBeff THIS! I started using corn litter for my one cat a few months ago - never going back. Not only does it seem to absorb smells, it's also flushable and apparently healthier for your cat than clay litter(no dust to inhale)


Alternatively, let the cat go outside. Now it's everyone else's problem!


our only option thus far is remove carpets entirely. Our male cat seems to have an incontinence problem :(


Honestly, the only way to really get cat pee out so that it doesn't begin to smell again the minute a little humidity hits is to rip up the affected carpet, replace the carpet pad underneath, and treat the wood underneath that. You can sometimes keep the carpet itself, if you treat it with the stuff mentioned above, it's really the carpet pad that keeps that smell rank as hell.

Maggie Champaigne@facebook

Oh oh oh for litter box stink another awesomepants thing is baking soda! There are specific boxes for pets, which is what we go for (I assume regular stuff is fine too). As someone who has never really had cats, and came into a two-cat household with two-cat stink -- it is AMAZING stuff and I could NOT LIVE WITHOUT IT. Caps = seriousness of this matter

Frankie's Girl

Our first cat, my dad decided not to have her fixed since she was supposed to be an inside only cat, and had to live with cat pee and barf EVERYWHERE. Grew up hiding my shoes, keeping my bedroom door closed to keep her out and never having friends over. :( You'd think I'd hate cats, but I just figured there was a right and a wrong way and my family tends to choose wrong every time.

As an adult, I have several tactics for dealing with cat stuff:

One litter box per cat, cleaned once a day. Keeps the cats happy since they have their own box. We've had good friends over that honestly said that they didn't know we had cats until they saw them - so no smells.

Crystal litter. We switched them over slowly from clay and the crystal doesn't track out of their room, doesn't stink (even in the room itself) and no horrible dust.

Wood floors. Seriously. We have area rugs and I bought them in neutral colors that would not show stains. I use oxyclean to spot clean them, but one cat in the final stages of kidney failure peed on a rug, and I ended up having to get a dishpan with water and soap and pour the water through the rug, soap it and then rinse it to get the urine out. I could not imagine getting urine out of carpeting that is attached to the floor. Even soaking the carpet with the enzyme cleaner is just forcing it all through to the padding and slab/foundation. Ewwww.

Switched their cat food to one that does not use any orange/red dyes. It's currently purina one something that has a tan tone, so barfs on the rugs don't do that hideous red stain. Fortunately, the cats we have currently seem to prefer yakking up on the wood or tile so it's easy cleanup.

I wash their boxes every month, but these kitties are really clean with no gross peeing/pooing on the sides. If they did that, it would be way more often. I clean them with ajax and the toilet bowl brush in the tub and then put them outside in the sun both to dry and to air out.

Taryn Southern Belle@facebook

This is why I cannot stand cats. Yay for dogs. less maintainence. Just clean em, take em out for walks/pee and keep it movin.

Taryn Southern Belle@facebook

I'm the only one that's allowed to be high maintenance in the house!! >:D!!

Joanne Gonzalez@facebook

my roommates and i picked up a couch off the curb to put on our porch. it reeeeked of cat urine and no one would sit on it for the longest time. i ended up using a combination of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda to get the smell out. i had to use these mixtures at least three times until the smell finally disappeared. i don't have the link to the recipe i used anymore, but this one sounds very similar.. http://www.getridofitall.com/cat-urine-smell/ i figure it should work on carpet, too.

El Knid

If mixing urine and chlorine bleach were dangerous, public swimming pools would be unswimmable due to all the dead bodies. In truth, fresh urine - from any mammal not suffering from renal failure - contains vanishingly small quantities of ammonia. Most of its nitrogen content is in the form of urea, which can form ammonia as it breaks down, but not in sufficient quantities to make it dangerous to clean urine with bleach. Urea itself reacts with chlorine bleach, and can form nitrogen trichloride, which is highly explosive... but, again, not in the concentrations you'd find in urine, which are more similar to what you'd find back when it was used as a food bleaching agent.


Sorry if this has been mentioned before, but if you're having a cat pee issue, I highly recommend buying "Cat Attract Cat Litter." It helped attract my cat to litter box... instead of the carpet.

Also? After you clean the carpet, if your cat still wants to go back to it, put a bowl of food in that spot and your cat will not want to pee on its food!!


I love the title of this article. I just wanted to share my love.

Vacationland Mom

I highly recommend Citri-Solve- citrus works great against cat pee smell (which is horrendous, I concur). I use Citri-Solve in the catbox, rinse THOROUGHLY so no residue/smell. I also use Feline Pine. I think the clumping litters, etc. create dust which gets into their lungs (and ours too) and I think increases the smell rather than reduces. You might have to clean your box more frequently but I think it's worth it. Plus no more clumping-litter- stuck-to-heinies to deal with, etc.


'kids and pets' enzyme cleaner. i discovered it when my children were pottytrained but had a couple of accidents. it eats the pee. it works on mildew, cat pee, human pee, vomit, and any other gross thing you can think of.


Hi all!! Ok, so I recently decided to crate my kitten. He's in there at night if not he WILL NOT let me sleep!! So to keep my sanity I had to opt for the crate. In any case he was fine up until this week when he started peeing in it. I read in another site that if they pee in their crate to take out the bedding for two weeks in a way to punish them for doing what they weren't suppose to do on their bed. So I took out his bedding and waiting to be laundered but now he peed in his crate. WTH!! I think is there any way whatsoever to get this cat to not do it again?? Do they run on some sort of schedule? I won't leave him without water because I don't want to risk him getting dehydrated. I feed him only 3 times a day, I do not leave the food out for him to feed at any given time he feels like it. Amy who, any help would be great I'd hate to have to deal with him peeing in his crate all the time, it's unacceptable. Please help!! It's appreciated. :)


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