DIY cat pee deterrants?
August 2, 2016 6:44 AM   Subscribe

We came back from vacation (had a housesitter) and our cats are peeing on everything. We tried Feliway in the past but it didn't work and is expensive. Is there a DIY solution such as a makeable spray that actually deters cats and does not smell awful?

We have another cat, a rescue Tom who is four years old and does not pee or spray inside at all since he came to us. We would like to train our kitten, now 12 weeks, to be the same way but have absolutely no clue as to how this training could be delivered.
posted by parmanparman to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Things you might or might not know about:

Resource pages on litter box problems by the ASPCA and Humane Society.

Also: the miracle that is Has solved a kitten problem for me before. You can find it in major pet stores and possibly others.

You'll hear this ten times, but you need an enzyme cleaner to remove the odor of the previous incidents. This is a measure to help prevent future incidents. ASPCA guide. Another guide on CatCentric.

We purchased this small carpet/upholstery cleaning appliance mainly for tummy problems, but it's been really handy. Probably there are better ones now. Ours includes a black light for help finding the stains, which is nice. Niceish. As nice as it could be, I guess.
posted by amtho at 7:26 AM on August 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm dealing with the same thing myself-- just got back from a week away and my sitter didn't seem to clean the box as frequently as I did. There's been some outside of the box peeing since I got back a few days ago.

I've dumped and changed the litter, cleaned the tile floor underneath (there was a lake of pee under there ugh) and around everything, then done a pass with this smell remover stuff (Dumb Cat). We'll see if it works.
posted by travertina at 7:58 AM on August 2, 2016

The kitten will get a lot better about this after it's fixed.

Yes to enzymatic cleaners-- you have to really break down the smell so kitty can't detect it at all. If it can detect it with its super-nose, it will reinforce that it's a good place to go.

Can you offer a couple of alternate boxes in different locations, perhaps even with different litters? Something's bound to be a more appealing choice. And give kitty a treat when it uses a box.

I don't think you can repel a cat without seriously watching it 24/7 and stressing it way out, and a stressed cat is a naughty cat. I think you can only give it better alternatives and reward good behavior. And until you really break down that prior urine, nothing you can tolerate smelling is going to be stronger than that.
posted by kapers at 8:13 AM on August 2, 2016

You need to identify what the pee triggers are and remove them as much as possible. Is it truly spraying, as in marking vertically up walls or curtains? Or is it peeing, on a) loose fabric on the floor b) items near but not in the litter box c) items that smell like you (ie laundry hamper) d) rubber items/rubber-backed rugs (or latex) (this is just a weird trigger for some cats) e) firm upholstered/padded items like cushions f) everything, without a pattern? You have to find the pattern to anticipate the behavior to fix it.

If it's f, or exclusively b, you probably need to go to the vet for a UTI test. You probably should do that no matter what, because you won't otherwise fix the problem if that's the cause.

If it's loose fabric on the floor, you'll have to pick up everything, wash it with enzyme cleaner (several friends who do cat fostering swear by Anti Icky Poo, or unscented or eucalyptus Odo Ban rather than Nature's Miracle) probably more than once, and then hang it up out of access to the cats for at least a month or two. Remove the temptation. Live without bathroom rugs. Close up the hampers.

You'll want to pick up a little handheld blacklight so you can find and treat every single bit of rogue urine in the house. I'm a big fan of the Bissell Little Green handheld shampooer for anything you can't put in a washing machine. Don't bother with the heated one, or using hot water, since heat can set the proteins. Use cool water and enzyme cleaner, and be aware that enzyme cleaner needs 24-36 hours for its bacteria to eat the urine bacteria, and in un-perfumed versions of the products there's a funky smell while that happens.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:45 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't have much to add, but amtho's suggestion of Cat Attract is right on. Our elderly cat had been peeing on the same spot on the bathroom floor for the past few years, and nothing we did changed her behavior. We switched to Cat Attract about 2 months ago and she stopped peeing on the floor overnight. It's a damn miracle.
posted by GoldenEel at 8:59 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your cats are likely mad at you because you went away on vacation. Hopefully things will settle down now you are home. But yes, any litterbox problems should be checked out by a vet to make sure they don't have a UTI or other issue.

I also swear by Cat Attract, after years of cleaning up after a cat who was determined to pee wherever he felt like it. You can also sprinkle catnip in your regular cat litter; if your cat likes the 'nip, he will go in the box to follow the smell.

My happiest moments in my day are just after the cat has peed in his box. That way I know he won't be peeing on my rugs or couch for at least a few hours.
posted by vickyverky at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had this issue. I ended up having to replace anything that I could because it didn't matter what I cleaned with, nothing worked.

Also, buy a brand new litter box.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:27 PM on August 2, 2016

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