New cats and old pee - a real problem
March 13, 2010 3:04 AM   Subscribe

Is there any real way to dissuade my cats from urinating on the walls/carpet of our apartment where previous tenants' cats have urinated previously?

My girlfriend and I recently moved into an apartment that had all of the carpets replaced prior to us moving in, and all of the walls (poorly) repainted.

Upon moving in we had to thoroughly clean the place, but certain smells remained. As cat owners we know what cat urine smells like, and some areas stank of it, strongly. We cleaned the best we could, but we know we can't get it all out, and we can't find all the spots ourselves.

We are using Nature's Miracle, but we fear that certain areas in the corners and along the walls will never be free of the smell, nor in the cabinets under the stairs (your guess is as good as mine as to how the walls/corners got inundated with cat pee in there).

The real problem is not the smell, which we hardly ever notice. It is the fact that we have cats, we just brought them into the home today, and they have already spent quite a lot of time exploring the old cats' scent. We've found at least 5 spots that we missed on our own, sprayed them with Nature's Miracle, and then simply hoped against hope that they would not become new litterboxes for our cats.

Is there any reliable, true way to stop our cats from using these old areas as litterboxes, or are we out of luck? We have two litterboxes for two cats, and we are diligent about cleaning them, but we fear that the previous rentors have doomed us before we even moved in.

If anyone has had luck preventing cats from marking their new territory in this way, I would love to hear about it.

posted by khelvan to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Is Nature's Miracle just an odour remover, or a repellent as well? You could try spraying those areas with citrus or pepper.

I was going to suggest that an alternative, if it's tolerable to you, is to let your cats dig their holes outside in the yard (which they might prefer to the litter if they are anything like mine). But since you've moved into an apartment I'm guessing your cats don't have access to soil.
posted by carnival of animals at 3:31 AM on March 13, 2010

Boundary is a straight-up miracle. My cats hate it. We use it behind the entertainment center because our cats like to chew cords, but it would probably work just as well to keep them away from cat pee. Timothy, the worst chewing offender, wrinkles his nose whenever he sees any spray bottle now.
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:31 AM on March 13, 2010

Nature's Miracle also makes "Urine Destroyer" which might help in this situation. Also, there's Arm & Hammer Carpet & Room Pet Fresh Odor Eliminator, which is helpful, and Citrus Magic has a Pet Clean Up Kit that might interest you. I've used all of these products together and singly for good results with old pee.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:46 AM on March 13, 2010

You could also try spraying some of that Feliway stuff around. It's supposed to contain pheromones that mellow the cats out enough that they longer care about other cats having been in the apartment.
posted by rhartong at 6:03 AM on March 13, 2010

I don't think Natures Miracle is very effective. The forumla changed a number of years ago and it just doesn't seem to be effective anymore. My preference is "Simple Solutions".

Also, keep in mind for any of they enzyme cleaner to work, you really need to soak the area in question. If its below brand new carpet and the pee is on the subfloor, then you may be SOL. In my case, we had to tear up the carpet, then soak the subfloor in simple solutions, and let it dry. Repeated the procedure a couple times, then once the smell was no longer noticable by us, sealed the whole subfloor in kilz primer.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:38 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Feliway for prevention. My (female) cat used to urinate on my stuff when stressed (or feeling my stress), and spraying Feliway calms her down and prevents the unwanted urination. Feliway also makes a plug-in diffuser, and I've had success with that as well (though it's pretty pricey). There are competitive brands popping up, though, at a lower cost.

For a free solution, I find that when my cats are behaving very badly, spraying them quickly with water stops them in their tracks. And like InsanePenguin's cat, at this point just picking up the spray bottle is sufficient for deterring whatever kind of trouble-making they're plotting. Only works when you're around, though.
posted by mireille at 7:29 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to also suggest using, if you are allowed, a sealing primer like Kilz or Zinsser Bulls Eye and repainting, if the enzyme cleaners (Nature's Miracle, etc) don't work. It would seal in any remaining odor-causing particles so that hopefully your cats won't be so attracted to the area anymore.

Also, when using the enzyme cleaner, you need to really soak the area. It should take a week to dry. Soak the shit out of the walls, baseboards, and surrounding carpet.

I have also had really good experiences with Feliway (the plug-in infuser, not the spray) when my cat was urinating all over the place, but it's no susbstitute for removing the triggering odors.
posted by tastybrains at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2010

Put small bowls of food in the problem areas. Cats don't pee where they eat, and food will train them to think of the areas as "no pee zones." It's worked for me.
posted by Billegible at 11:00 AM on March 13, 2010

See above for where to put solution (floorboards, etc.) but the solution I trust is Anti-Icky Poo. I have used it in several urine situations, up to and including the removal of male feral cat urin (those of you who have gotten a whiff of this know from what I am speaking). This is the enzyme solution you want. Get it on Amazon, where it is cheaper.
posted by oflinkey at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2010

We had to deal with a similar problem when one of our cats became incontinent in his dotage. OdoKill is the only thing that worked.

tastybrains: Also, when using the enzyme cleaner, you need to really soak the area. It should take a week to dry. Soak the shit out of the walls, baseboards, and surrounding carpet.

Agreed. I dunno about a week, but you definitely need to soak the shit out of it.
posted by mkultra at 12:20 PM on March 13, 2010

you should probably look for a small blacklight to help you find all the spots, too.
posted by lemniskate at 3:12 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ditto putting bowls of food right where the cat would have to stand in order to pee in the wrong place. Yummy food. Maybe a little water-packed tuna.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:52 PM on March 13, 2010

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