Why does cat urine smell so strong and bad?

Why does cat urine smell so strong and bad?

It is one of the small inconveniences when living with a cat: the smell of their urine can sometimes be very strong and unpleasant. How to explain it and how to easily get rid of it cat pee? Here is our lighting.

Marking: normal behavior in cats

Let’s start by remembering that Marking is an instinctive behavior in cats. whether male or female, purebred or crossbred.

It is a means of communication that has several objectives:

  • identify its territory;
  • indicate its presence to its peers;
  • provide information about his sexual status;
  • to calm down.

It can take various forms depending on the feline, but often consists of visual or olfactory marks via pheromones.

  1. Scratching (“I scratch the sofa, the wall, the carpet or even a tree trunk”).
  2. Facial marking (“I rub against your legs”).
  3. Physical marking, when the cat occupies space (“I lie on your magazine”).
  4. Urine or elimination marking (“I pee against the furniture and outside my litter box”).

Not all cats use these markings at the same frequency: it all depends on the individual animal. It is not necessary for several cats to live in the same household to observe these marking behaviors.

Urine marking is certainly one of the most unpleasant forms of daily marking. It consists of a jet of urine generally directed towards a vertical support, which the cat emits while standing, with its tail in the air. However, Punishing or scolding a cat for urine marking will be counterproductive. since it is an instinctive behavior.

A particularly unpleasant smell

Cat pee helps drain the various wastes present in the animal’s body. It is composed of a majority of water, as well as nitrogenous elements (urea, ammonium, creatinine, etc.). But it also contains amino acids: feline and cysteine. These are the ones that would give this famous unpleasant sulfur smell in urine It is also the sticky texture of urine which would promote the proliferation of bacteria, once the liquid comes into contact with the external environment, which causes bad odors.

But when urine marking, the smell of cat pee is particularly unpleasant. It is even more pungent and persistent than that of classic urine, deposited on the ground. Researchers at Iwate University in Japan studied this phenomenon, by comparing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted according to the type of urine. The results proved that it was the same liquid, without the addition of any additional substance or secretion. This would be in the presence of protein in the urine called “cauxin”, which is thought to be responsible for: it would tend to adhere more to vertical surfaces This would explain why the smell of urine marking is stronger than the smell of pee in the litter box or on the floor.

How to get rid of urine smell?

Cat pee has a particularly persistent odor. To clean it, use natural products as :

  • white vinegar with deodorizing properties;
  • baking soda with absorbent properties;
  • Sommières earth with stain-removing properties;
  • soda crystals with cleaning properties;
  • household alcohol with disinfectant properties.

In addition, you can spray lavender or mint hydrosols (distilled water), which are gentler than essential oils and therefore more compatible with cats.

Converselyavoid products with a strong and long-lasting odor such as bleach or chemical cleaners. First of all, they are harmful to pets. Secondly, they will create a real vicious circle, since the cat could be led to increase its urine markings precisely to try to camouflage this odor which will disturb its powerful sense of smell.

Different factors affect the smell of a cat’s urine.

The smell of cat pee can vary depending on several factors. which can make it more or less strong.

  1. Food and hydration. If the cat does not drink enough water, its urine will be more concentrated and its odor stronger. Provide several clean water points for your feline and possibly opt for a water fountain for the most recalcitrant cats. Wet food (pâtés, sachets, fricassee, soups, etc.) is also richer in water.
  2. A health problem. Urinary tract infection, cystitis, urinary crystals, bladder tumor, kidney stones… So many diseases that can affect the cat’s urine, both in terms of its smell, its color or its texture. If you notice blood in the urine, but also an increase in the frequency of urination, it may be this type of medical problem. If, in addition, you observe changes in behavior in your animal (untimely meowing, loss of appetite, apathy, whining when urinating, etc.), contact your veterinarian quickly.

Preventing inconvenience


Urine marking is more common in uncastrated males. From sexual maturity, between 6 and 8 months, this type of marking is used in particular to give informative messages concerning its readiness to mate. Sterilization therefore has a beneficial impact, since it will modify the cat’s metabolism by inhibiting the character traits linked to sexual activity.

If you do not want to breed your cat, consider sterilizing it at a young age.

Litter selection and location

If your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box, the problem may be the choice or location of the box.

Contrary to popular belief, cats do not require privacy to do their business. Therefore, avoid placing the litter box in a hidden place and choose closed boxes: choose a well-ventilated place, which will also limit the stagnation of odors. Of course, opt for a box adapted to the size of your animal. Also, do not place the litter box next to the food or water bowl. If you live with several cats, it is generally recommended to install 1 litter box per feline + 1 (i.e. 3 litter boxes for 2 cats).

The choice of substrate can also come into play: some mineral litters that are too dusty or even scented litters can be avoided by cats.

Finally, ensure the hygiene of the litter box by emptying it regularly and cleaning the tray from time to time, without using cleaning products with strong fragrances.

Let’s remember, here again, that punishing your cat because he pees next to the litter box will not improve the situation. It may simply create misunderstanding and push him to find a new place to do his business, but which will certainly not be the litter box as long as it does not suit him. If you are having problems with uncleanliness with your cat and you want to get help, you can contact a feline behaviorist.

Limit sources of stress

The different forms of marking also have a calming and reassuring role for the cat. They allow them to find olfactory and visual landmarks when they feel negative emotions.

As a preventative measure, limit all sources of stress. often linked to upheavals in the cat’s routine:

  • moving ;
  • arrival or departure of a member of the household;
  • change of meal times;
  • change of diet;
  • etc.

There are natural products designed to combat stress in the most sensitive felines (herbal medicine, hormone diffusers, etc.). Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice.

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