When Cats Go…On The Bed

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Dear Home Ec 101,

We recently adopted another stray cat, and while two of the other three cats have adjusted fine, my oldest has not. He decided instead of getting chased around by the new guy, he would instead take up residence on the top floor of the house (where he was always most happy anyway, sunning in the windows, etc.). However, I didn’t realize it until it was too late that he was not going downstairs to use one of the two litter boxes. One day I went upstairs to go to bed and realized that sometime in the past two days, he had relived his bladder all over the bed! (My husband and I fall asleep on the couch a lot and hadn’t slept upstairs the previous two nights, or we would have noticed it sooner.)

I immediately stripped the mattress and washed the sheets and comforter several times, and the smell is gone from those items. I soaked up as much of the urine as I could with paper towels and sponges, and then headed to PetSmart to buy some Nature’s Miracle Cleaner. I followed the directions and completely soaked the spots where the urine was, and then three days later repeated the process with a different Nature’s Miracle product (Just for Cats Urine Destroyer).

But here’s my new problem: It’s been a week, and while my husband swears he can’t smell the urine anymore, I still get whiffs of something–whether it’s urine or just the cleaner, I’m not sure. But it smells funky, and I don’t know what to do! I was hoping HE101 might be able to suggest something else I could do to make my mattress smell fresh again. It’s a pillow-top mattress so I can’t flip it, and we just don’t have the money right now to go out and buy a whole new one yet.

Stinky in Stanton

cat peed on mattress

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

Ah, man, I’ve had a cat that peed on my bed. It’s not a good thing at all. First suggestion for the cat: make sure you have a litter box upstairs for him. And make sure you have the magic number of litter boxes as well. Now, let’s deal with the bed.

bedroom and closet cleaning
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Cat pee is really hard to get out of things. The Nature’s Miracle works well, but I agree with you that it leaves a faint smell of…I dunno. Something that’s not good. What I have found that works is to take a box of baking soda and sprinkle it heavily over your bed. Let it sit like that for at least an hour or two. Then vacuum it up. There are all sorts of ways to get that smell out, but I feel like this is the way of the least work, mess, and cost.

Good luck!

Send your household questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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7 thoughts on “When Cats Go…On The Bed”

  1. First off, good for you for adopting cats! My wife and I adopted a dog a couple months back and had similar problems at the beginning. I have a pretty interesting job, we recently completed the cleaning of a house that once had 75 cats calling it home. The smell of urine and feces was overwhelming. The worst part was definitely the ammonia from the cat urine. This is obviously a very extreme situation, but I know well the smell that you are referring to. In our line of work we use high powered O-ZONE generators that basically take the oxygen out of the air, killing everything(odor) in its path. Unfortunately the urine is probably absorbed into the fabric in your mattress, so I doubt cleaning agents, even hospital grade chemicals like we use, most likely will only temporarily mask the problem. I think you probably need some sort of odor killing agent. There are several forms of odor killing”sprays” that can do a great job if all else fails. These are usually found at carpet and restoration supply stores. A couple names that come off the top of my head are Odorcyde and Hydrocide, both are pretty serious odor removers and both advertise the removal of pet odors. Good Luck!

  2. What ever you do DO NOT use Febreze. I’ve found that it actually makes the urine odor stronger and its impossible to remove. If nothing else works, I have used Nature’s Miracle and then let the object sit in direct sunlight to dry. Good luck!

  3. The big challenge I see here is getting whatever method you use to penetrate the mattress as deeply as the urine did. I love a product called Atmos-Klear which removes odor and does not use perfumes. But that product and others like it need to come in contact with all the urine to get rid of all the smell. With a pillow-top, I’d be concerned about how far down the urine went.

    And, I think the real key here is not whether you can still smell it, but whether your cat can still smell it. I’ve never had cats but I’ve heard enough about people who had trouble with the cat reusing places because they could still smell the urine long after the people couldn’t.

    You might also think of ways you can keep the cat off the bed. Just so there’s no temptation.

    While double checking the correct spelling of Atmos-Klear, I came across this article testing 4 odor removing products including Atmos-Klear and Febreeze:

  4. Well, no one has mentioned it, and I know it works for people urine in mattresses…stick it in the sun for a day or so. I remember dragging a mattress out to our back yard to lean against the back fence for sunning as a kid. Just make sure you get it inside if it starts raining, mildew is harder to get rid of.

  5. Cat pee smell is almost impossible to get rid of, particularly male cat pee. And I’ll second Ivy’s assertion that Nature’s Miracle leaves its own funk behind. Sometimes white vinegar will take out that funk. I’ll also agree with Jennifer that Febreze and cat pee don’t mix….just don’t do it. The solution of last resort I’ve found that gets the most gaggifying smells out of things is to put either an air conditioner “filter scent” pad on top of a piece of paper on top of the item (don’t put it directly on the item as they can leave a mark), or put a Method scent disc on the item, and then put a plastic drape (a garbage bag or drop cloth) over the whole area, and leave it there until the smell is gone. For a bed, you’ll probably want to remove this assembly at night and then put it back together in the morning. I think sleeping on it would be a bad idea.

    The reason this method works is that both of these products contain a large amount of highly volatile oils that will get into fabrics and displace odors. The scents that seem to work best are the “grassy” ones and the “spicy” ones. This also works on any smaller enclosed area: I got mildew smell out of an antique cedar chest and its contents, cigarette smoke smell out of an older highboy, and vomit smell out of my car (plus the volatile oils left the dashboard miraculously rejuvenated!). Do try not to breathe any concentrated vapors from these products: volatile oils are not good for lungs.

    Good luck, and consider using a waterproof mattress cover: it will hide any lingering smells and provide a clean surface, and will limit the extent of any future unfortunate occurrences to washable items.

  6. You might try spraying some vodka on it, as well as the sun. We’ve had that happen to us too – yuck. Vodka can be cheaper than rubbing alcohol. We put it in a spray bottle. The distillery smell evaporates fairly quickly too.

  7. One of our cat pees on the bed every month or two. We wash the linen and duvet in the launderette which seems the only way to go about it. We read a book recently though that described reasons why a cat would do this, when they know full well they should do it outside. We tackled these things and it isn't happening any more (fingers crossed!) The book was written by a woman know as the cat detective but the name escapes me…hope this helps!


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