Help. Cat pee is ruining my life.
May 6, 2012 10:32 AM   Subscribe

What to do about a possibly pre-existing pet urine stain that has soaked through the carpeting in our rental apartment? Especially since our cat has found the spot and is exacerbating the problem with her own urine!

I've seen the many previous questions about how to address an issue of cat urine stains, but am wondering how to specifically to apply that to our rental apartment. Last summer I moved to an apartment with carpets with my 5-6 year old cat who had previously only had hardwoods. Recently (within the last 6 to 8 weeks) I've noticed that my cat has sort of sprayed/urinated on a spot along the hallway wall a few times. She is still using the litter box for both urinating and deficating, and the spots on the carpet are small. We're regularly cleaning the spots when she pees and through that process I finally pulled just a bit of the corner of the carpet up to realize it had gone through to the foam padding and possibly even the wood beneath.

The issue here seems bigger than just our cat, in part because she is drawn to this one specific area that I believe was already there when we moved in. The landlord was originally hesitant to let us move in with a cat, which now makes me wonder if they'd encountered this problem before and perhaps didn't fully remediate it. Also, since our cat has never had an issue using the litter box before (or now for that matter) and seems to be "marking" her territory more than accidentally peeing in the wrong spot, I'm fairly convinced the apartment had a history of this issue.

So the question is - what do we do at this point? Since we don't own the apartment a lot of the remedies (like getting rid of the carpet and cleaning the area beneath) aren't in our control - and if we got permission I'm curious about what we'd expect to pay for something like that. I'm also concerned that if we tell the landlords about it now they'll blame us completely and make us pay for it or take it out of our security deposit (and we already pay an additional monthly fee to have a cat).

My boyfriend proposed continuing with our vinegar/baking soda home remedies and keeping the cat away from the area permanently, which would be hard since its in the hallway and also as we have a few months left on our lease and may be staying beyond that point. Also I really am stressed out about living with it the way it is - it kind of grosses me out and distracts me, and as it gets warmer and more humid the smell will just get worse.

So what should we do? If we talk to the landlords what kind of charges should we expect? Should we offer to do some of the work ourselves? Help please!?
posted by moshimosh to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When our cats puke on the carpeting, we use Spot Shot to clean up the stain. It's supposed to be able to work on deep stains, though you may need to use it a few times before it fully goes away.

To stop the cat from being attracted to that spot, have you tried Nature's Miracle? I've always had success with it.
posted by gchucky at 10:38 AM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go get some Nature's Miracle. Follow the instructions on the bottle. It may take 2-3 treatments (and read the instructions, it doesn't work instantly, so give each round some days to do its thing) but will likely solve your problem well enough for your purposes.

If you're really worried about not missing any, you can get a blacklight. But just be aware that you cannot unsee what the blacklight shows you.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Use the vinegar and something else STRONG SMELLING, than cover the spot with something large that will also allow air to get in there. Like a few milk crates or furniture. I saw some cans of air with motion detectors that will scare any cat away from anything (SSScat or stay away amazon). It sounds a horn and sprays air at them when detected in close proximity. My cat wont go near anything this can is on. Put that on the mikk crate.
Problem over likely.
posted by Studiogeek at 10:47 AM on May 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Perhaps even move the cat box to that spot.....
posted by Studiogeek at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2012

Perhaps even move the cat box to that spot.....

This might "teach" the cat to spray around the sides of the box, unfortunately. I second three or four rounds of Nature's Miracle, followed by StUdIoGeEk's tricks to keep the cat away from the area. After you do the milk-crate thing for a few weeks, you can find a small piece of solid furniture that looks OK in the hallway and that'll probably be enough to keep the cat from returning to the spot.
posted by vorfeed at 11:11 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

i've found that pure ayre works way better than nature's miracle and smells pleasant to boot. pour it on the stain.
posted by violetk at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You want some sort of enzyme type cleaner. Natures miracle is very good and pretty much any pet store stocks it.

If you have some around you might want to try Oxyclean, mix it with some warm water and pour it over the stinky bit of carpet. Let it soak through to the underlay and whatever for a while. Put a towel on it and if you press or walk on the towel you will suck up a lot of the moisture, don't rub you can felt the carpet. This method was told to me by a vet years ago when I had a cat with a similarly caused spraying problem.

A feliway sprayer in the area might help too, as your cat won't feel as stressed by the other cats smell so feel the need to cover it up as strongly.
posted by wwax at 12:00 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

A handful of hot red peppers will usually persuade a cat to keep away.
posted by KRS at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2012

I never had luck with Nature's Miracle. When Melon had his FLUTD issues and had accidents on carpet and cushion, I was directed to Anti-Icky Poo. It is $$$ but worth every cent. I buy it on Amazon; I get the gallon tub, and I soak the area. I then cover it in a trash bag for a significant amount of time to allow for the enzymes to work and the liquid to stay put.
posted by oflinkey at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2012

Dog person (so, grain of salt, but I have cleaned up after cats, too). I used to use Nature's Miracle, but now I use a product called "clean n' smart" [sic]. Works a tad better than NM, in my experience.
posted by trip and a half at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the suggestions and remedies, and for the advice for keeping our cat away in the future as well. The milk crate is a great temporary solution but unfortunately the hallway is too narrow for any permanent furniture.

My boyfriend's mom had some Nature's Miracle, so I applied that both on the carpet and underneath, let it soak in for an hour as directed, and blotted the excess away. We're now waiting for it to dry completely before we know the end result. However, I am also specifically asking for any advice you may have on how to handle this with the landlords, especially if the smell doesn't go away completely.
posted by moshimosh at 4:21 PM on May 6, 2012

Quite honestly, if it was me I wouldn't say a thing to the landlords unless they were friends of mine. Is this bad and dishonest? Probably, but it will save you a world of hurt down the line. I just wouldn't mention it at all. If they bring it up after you move out, I'd say, oh yes, we noticed that spot when we first moved in but we treated it with enzyme cleaner and the smell went away. It must have been the previous tenants. My experience with landlords has been that if you tell them about it you can kiss your security deposit goodbye right then on the spot and you'll probably get additional grief as well.

If you really want to pull the carpet up I still wouldn't say anything about your cat to the landlord. You might say that you've been noticing an odor in the hallway since you moved in - you could say it's been getting worse since the weather has warmed up, which it probably has - and then volunteer to pull up the carpet yourself. Many landlords will flip out at the thought of no carpet - I did manage to get one to agree to me pulling it up but he had admitted that the batshit insane person who lived there before us had three potbellied pigs in the house (yeah, and it smelled like it, too.) Pulling up carpet is not difficult although it's a messy, lengthy, kind of pain in the ass job, but refinishing the floor where the carpet used to be is awful and best left to professionals. Here's a very recent question about it that has some good answers.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:04 AM on May 7, 2012

It will take about 2 weeks for Nature's Miracle to complete its cycle. If that hasn't fixed the problem, do it again. It often smells worse before it smells better, as the enzymes do their thing.

I don't understand why you need to "handle" this with your landlords. If you do damage that has to be mitigated they will let you know and take it out of your deposit. It's likely, though, that you will be able to treat the spot sufficiently that the cat stops revisiting it and nobody will know it happened.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:48 PM on May 7, 2012

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