Have you ever tried to wash your cat bedding only to have it come out smelling worse? Our resident cat expert, Wendy Nan Rees, offers advice on how to clean your feline's bedding.
I can tell you from first hand knowledge that sometimes washing our pets' bedding can make things worse! I generally wash all of my pets' bedding twice a month. If one of them has an accident, then of course I will wash the bedding right away. When it comes to taking care of your cat's bedding and toys, you always want to wash their things in a non-toxic laundry product. You want to be sure you are cleaning your home with non-toxic products as well.
Find the Source of the Problem
The first thing you should do if you have a strong smell of cat urine in your home is find the source of the odor. Sometimes this isn't as easy as it sounds unless you know the place the cat happens to be going. If the cat is marking and you can't find the spot, you can go to the pet store and either buy or rent a black light. Yes, I said a black light. They found another use for them besides making pictures glow in the dark. The black light will react with the urine and will show you everywhere your pet has marked. It will work on old urine stains too. Once you find all locations, the hard work of trying to get the urine smell out of your home begins.
Watch Those Cleaners
You would be amazed how many cleaning products that we use every day are very toxic to our cats. Many of the commonly used cleaners on the market contain ingredients like: creosote, naphthol and wood tar, not to mention phenol and its derivatives. If a cat ingests any of these products, either by licking the floor or even his feet after he has walked through something, he could wind up being poisoned.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that cleaning a urine stain with ammonia will fix the problem. This couldn't be further from the truth. Cat urine is ammonia-based, and using ammonia on ammonia will only reinforce the cat's idea that he can re-mark the area you are trying to clean. I'm not sure why cat urine smells so much stronger than dog urine, but it may have to do with the fact that cats don't seem to drink as much water as dogs. So, a cat's urine doesn't get as diluted as a dog's urine does.
The Melaleuca Company makes several cleaning products that are not only earth friendly, but also creature friendly. MelaPower® is a detergent for cleaning clothes, bedding and anything that is washable in a washing machine. It comes in a fresh scent and an unscented version. They also make a cleaner called Sol-U-Mel® that they say will work on very stubborn stains. My friend and assistant Ruthie suggested these products because she uses them all the time and loves the MelaPower® because a 96 ounce bottle goes such a long way.
EcoQuest International makes eco-H™ Household Cleaner. It is made from natural and organic ingredients and is not a detergent, a petroleum solvent or citrus-based. It's non-toxic, non-caustic, non-fuming and 100% biodegradable. Ruthie uses it for cleaning floors, and she uses it on her litter boxes as well. This product can clean just about any surface you can imagine, and Ruthie swears by it.
A product specifically made to clean urine and stool is Nature's Miracle, and it has been on the market for many years. It has enzymes in it and breaks down the urine and stool. Any product with enzymes in it usually works well because of the way it interacts with urine and stool stains. These cleaners also help break down odors because the enzymes actually feed on the bacteria that causes the smell.
There are also some common items you probably already have in your home that you can use for cleaning. Lemon juice and vinegar are two old stand-by cleaners that work very well. However, the acids found in these liquids may actually bleach fabrics, so they are best reserved for non-porous surfaces.
Whichever cleaner you choose to use, the key to a successful cleaning is to rinse the area thoroughly. Rinsing more than once removes any residue of the cleaning products you might use. This will keep your cat from walking in something that could be harmful or make him sick.
Another cleaning tip: if you are washing something in the washing machine, make sure you don't overload the washer because this makes it harder for the water to circulate through the clothes. Adding baking soda in the wash also helps to eliminate the urine odor on bedding, etc.
Hopefully this will never happen to you, but if it does, now you can be prepared for just about anything.
"Remember the animals in your life are not just your pets they're your friends" WNR