Anyone who is lucky enough to share their lives with a cat or three will have noticed that cat urine is pungent. Very pungent. Which is why the manufacturers of cat litter go to such lengths to deodorise it.
A healthy cat has very pungent pee, but the stool is almost odourless. The smell of anyone’s urine is like ammonia, because it IS ammonia. But cat’s urine is especially so, for a very good reason.
Before venturing down that avenue, there is a scale of who has the strongest smell. Entire (or unneutered) mature tom cats urine has the strongest smell. Kittens urine is almost odourless.
The main reasons why cat urine is pungent
Firstly, because the cat evolved from the arid areas of the world, they have developed strategies to cope with the lack of water or seasonal water. Their liquid source comes mainly from their prey. Which means food that contains a lot of liquid is normal and natural for them. (Dry food for cats may keep them alive, but it will cause kidney failure sooner or later.)
With liquid in short supply, the cats body makes the most of it. Their kidneys are able to make very concentrated urine, retaining the bulk of the liquid for bodily needs.
So a healthy cats urine smells very strong and has a deep yellow colour. It is passed infrequently.
In addition, their poo will be hard and odourless as the intestines extract as much water from the poo as is possible, without making it hard to pass.
The second reason is that cats mark their territory. This is exclusively a tom cat need in the wild, because he doesn’t want other tom cats around. So he sprays on trees and shrubs to alert any visiting competition that this area is already taken.
He won’t be marking every tree or shrub every day, so the smell needs to last. We know it does!
Unfortunately, this isn’t an exclusively tom cat need in domesticity! Cats of either sex tend to spray either to show their dissatisfaction or frustration over something, or on top of an earlier spray that wasn’t cleaned enough to remove the smell. (Diluted vinegar seems to be the best answer to removing the smell of cats urine to a cats satisfaction.)
Veterinary drugs can make cats pee smell bad. The kidneys filter out the drugs which cause the character of the urine to change. This will be a toxic smell accompanied by the normal ammonia smell. A double mix to curl your nose…
And finally why cat urine is pungent has nothing to do with your cat, but everything to do with your general cleaning habits. The longer the urine is left in the litter, the stronger it smells. I once visited someone’s house who had cleaned out the cat litter trays, but left the bag containing the used litter in the room. My eyes watered and I had to leave early.
Appreciate that cat urine IS pungent for very good reasons. You simply need to find the best ways to deal with it. Some suggestions include:
- cleaning up any cat urine with diluted vinegar as already mentioned. Bicarb of soda is best on soft furnishings or anything you can’t easily wash
- clean the litter tray as often as you can
- don’t “piss you cat off” by teasing or other cruel behaviours. A new addition to the family can cause a temporary upset.
- when your cat is not well, they may pee outside the litter tray regularly. That is an alert for you. Consider the diet may be the problem, as it so often is. Homeopathic treatment helps at an holistic (whole body) level and is not toxic.