The odor of cat urine can make your whole home smell awful. Fortunately, you can use cat urine cleaners, found in pet supply stores, to clean up any of Fluffy's accidents. Many of these cleaners contain protein-based chemicals called enzymes, which break down your kitty's urine into non-toxic substances.
How They Work
Enzymes speed up the natural chemical processes which organic substances, like urine, go through when they biodegrade. The enzymes contained in pet urine cleaners include protease, lipase, amylase, cellulase and uriase. Bacteria produce these enzymes to help them break down the urine into chemicals which they can digest. Manufacturers culture only beneficial, non-pathogenic bacteria in a lab to produce enzymes. The manufacturers then include both the bacteria and their enzymes in their cleaning products. Once the bacteria come into contact with urine and other organic substances, they produce more enzymes to digest the urine. The bacteria also rapidly reproduce. Eventually, the urine is completely digested and transformed into harmless substances like carbon dioxide and water; the bacteria, without a source of urine to digest, die off completely.
How to Use
Absorb as much of the urine as you can from the area where your kitty has had her accident using paper towels or a wet/dry vacuum. Spray the area down with a cleaner containing enzymes. Let the cleaner dry naturally. For older stains on fabrics and carpeting, dampen the area with water first before applying the enzymatic cleaner. The water reactivates the uric acid in the stain, one of the main chemicals responsible for the odor, and helps to facilitate the enzymes to break it down. Stubborn stains and odors might require a second or even third treatment to fully get rid of all of the odor-causing residual urine.
Where to Use
Cleaners containing enzymes are safe to use around our feline friends and don't leave behind any residue to rinse away after use. You can spray them on water-safe solid surfaces, like counter tops or flooring, and on washable furniture fabrics. Pour them directly onto carpet stains and couch cushions to get rid of urine that has sunk deep into the carpet padding or cushion-stuffing. When exposed to high temperatures, enzymes start to denature and break down, eventually becoming ineffective. For this reason, it's best not to use them in a steam cleaner or with hot water. High temperatures can also kill off any bacteria in the cleaner that are producing the enzymes. To protect your enzymatic cleaner from heating up, store it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Why Use Them?
Cleaners containing harsh chemicals or surfactants won't completely eliminate all of the uric acid proteins and other organic components contained in feline urine the way enzymes do, especially on porous surfaces. While the area might seem clean to you, your kitty's sensitive nose will likely detect those stinky chemicals and follow them back to the "scene of the crime" to urinate again in the area. Ammonia is the worst of these cleaners to use when it comes to cleaning cat urine because it smells just like urine to your furry friend's nose,.
Allowing Enzymes to Work
While the enzymes are working on the stained area you've treated with an enzymatic cleaner, cover it with upside-down plastic carpet runners. The carpet runners will discourage your furry friend away from approaching the treated area. The plastic runners also help to retain moisture in the area, allowing the enzymes to flourish for a longer period of time and remove any residual odors. Remember, these cleaners don't cover up odors, but rather eliminate their source, so you have to treat urine stains directly. A black light can help you to find any urine stains you can smell but can't see. With the lights turned off, shine a black light on smelly areas to locate any hidden stains; the black light causes any organic matter, like urine, to glow brightly when shined upon it.
- WebMD: How to Create a Greener, Cleaner, Healthier Home
- petMD: New Puppy Checklist
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Urine Marking in Cats
- The Humane Society of the United States: Solving Litter Box Problems
- Shipp Chemical Company: Advanced Biotechnology for Deodorizing
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Inappropriate Elimination in Cats
- CleanItSupply.com: Enzyme and Bacterial Cleaning Chemicals
- Nature's Enzymes: What are Enzymes?
- Class of Foods: Enzymes
- Royal Society of Chemistry: Enzymes
- Natural Environmental Systems: Differences Between Surfactants, Enzymes and Bacteria
- Tri Synergy: Conditions for Growth of Beneficial Bacteria
- Novozymes: Microorganisms
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.