Variations on cat pee + carpet + pulling out my hair
November 16, 2013 11:21 AM   Subscribe

We recently discovered that my cat has been peeing consistently on the carpeted floor behind a bookcase in our rental apartment. The bookcase is ruined, but what can we do about the carpet to keep our security deposit bleeding to a minimum?

Cat is female, 17+ years old, has a sensitive stomach so has her own water and food and litter separate from the other two cats in the house. Has been confined to our second-story bedroom (at the request of my housemates) because she was peeing on couches and under the stairwell in our common areas on the ground floor. Litterbox on the balcony with our sliding glass door open; this has worked well until it got cold recently, and our bookcase area against the wall started smelling like pee. Couldn't pinpoint the spot until Mr Wintersonata stepped in the wet spot recently and we noticed the damage/peeling on the side of the bookcase. It is right where the carpeted floor meets the wall.

(I've had her for four years and I love her dearly, but she is affecting our quality of life. She's old and difficult to take care of, and has disturbed Mr Wintersonata's sleep greatly since we started living together. My budget does not allow for multiple trips to the vet for bloodwork or UTI tests - at this point, I plan to put her to sleep in the next month or two. I'm sad about it but feel it's the right choice. But I'd like to focus on the carpet damage in this Ask.)

Just read this past Ask (and pretty much every other Ask on incontinent cats, pee on carpets, litterbox solutions) and we are treating the affected area with vinegar/baking soda, Woolite Pet Stain & Remover w/ Oxy and Urine Off enzyme spray), and have covered that spot with aluminum foil. She hasn't peed here in at least a few days since, but she had probably peed there for a week or two straight.

However, one of my housemates (a plumber) recently asked what would happen if her consistent peeing had caused damage to the floor or subflooring. I plan to accept any financial responsibility if the cost of repairs eats up our security deposit, but what can I do now to repair the damage already done to the carpet and floor?
posted by wintersonata9 to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The carpet you can probably deal with using enymatic cleaners like Nature's Miracle or (I'm assuming) the Urine Off stuff. You mention the latter is a spray, but if the carpet has been saturated with pee then a spray that only dampens the surface won't be enough; you'll have to saturate the carpet with the cleaner, too.

Have you pulled up the edge of the carpet to see what the floor underneath is like? If it's a hardwood floor then there may be nothing you can do about any staining. If it's just a plywood subfloor then the staining won't matter; all you need to deal with is the smell.
posted by jon1270 at 11:41 AM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: I had good luck with using some homemade Oxi-clean on a throw-rug that my cat took a liking (hating?) to. Mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda, and a little water if you want. let it sit on the stain for a few hours, let it dry, and vacuum it off.
posted by hydra77 at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2013

Check under the carpet for mold.
posted by windykites at 12:09 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: my question would be, is the carpet visually stained or obviously damaged upon a visual inspection? If it isn't, dealing with the smell is 1000% better than dealing with the stain, especially if you have some time between now and when you plan to move out and they'd inspect.

I'd also be careful to not create an obviously discolored or WAY cleaner brand new looking patch. I'd be worried that stuff like oxiclean or peroxide would discolor the area it was applied to by kinda "bleaching" it. Enzymatic cleaners are your friend here. I'd even consider some chicanery like this right before the property manager/owner was coming to check it out.

If it's wall to wall carpet it really doesn't matter whats underneath. They're not going to rip up the carpet in the inspection, and in a lot of states/cities they're required to replace the carpet every X number of years(or at the very least, disallowed from charging the tenant for the carpet replacement because after that amount of time it counts as "normal wear and tear").

Which leads me to my final point. How long have you been there? I'm not saying don't clean it up, but research local landlord tenant laws. It may be illegal for them to charge you for replacing damaged carpet, since replacing the carpet by that amount of time would be considered normal wear and tear. In some places all the time since it was last replaced counts towards that, not just the time you were there even if it was in perfect condition when you moved in. Research.
posted by emptythought at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: We just went through a cat pee extravaganza, and I was amazed at how well Natures Miracle worked. We used their "cat urine destroyer" and the regular blend for cats. It's been pretty amazing - you'd never guess that a few weeks ago we had FOUR CATS ON A PEE SPREE in here.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: Seconding Nature's Miracle. I think you get it at the pet supply store.
posted by beagle at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2013

Best answer: Before my cat passed away this summer, he was doing a lot of inappropriate peeing. Nature's Miracle was, well, a miracle.

A couple of notes -
Definitely get the one specifically for cat urine (available at Amazon if you can't find it locally.

Follow the instructions - saturate the area and let it dry - I believe the drying action has something to do with removing the smell.

Do not be surprised if you have to apply it more than once.
posted by dotgirl at 2:47 PM on November 16, 2013

I would pull up the carpet, cut out any padding that is pee-stained, and replace it. If you do have to cut a patch, a square patch is much easier to work with. See how much pee has soaked into the subfloor, which is probably plywood. If it's really bad, it might be possible to to cut out & replace a piece of the plywood, or at least to use Nature's Miracle to neutralize the smell. Before putting the carpet back, put down paper towels soaked in vanilla, or some other pleasant smell. One thing I learned from dogs with imperfect house training - microfiber super-absorbent towels help stuff dry much faster.
posted by theora55 at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2013

I'm picturing a corner of the floor...

Can you pull (gently and neatly) the carpet up from that corner? This may involve removing some of the crowning that attaches the carpet to the wall/floor, If you can, do it and inspect the underside of the carpet first. If the underside is looking moldy, first spray Natures Miracle on the underside, scrub with a damp sponge, do the same for the carpeted side and let dry. Put an overturned coffee mug under the carpet to let air under to dry. You can get NM pretty much anywhere - pet store, Target, most grocery chains sell it.

What kind if material is under the carpet over the floor? This is most likely what you will be replacing a square of - cut out the stained area and replace with new section from hardware store. I doubt the Pee damaged the actual floor, but probably damaged this stuff.

When your carpet is dry, if there are any odors left, scrub with damp sponge and white vinegar cut with a little warm water. Let dry again. Then, put the carpet back down and re attach (eg staple gun along wall seam, then replace any crowning you may have had to take up next to the wall.

I'd recommend maybe rearranging furniture so that your cat cannot go in this spot again. Poor kitty! Good luck!
posted by floweredfish at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2013

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