Pet post ahead.
I just went through the ordeal of getting a cat to cease urinating on my carpet. The question comes up often in the Pets subreddit, so I thought I’d share my method (which seems to be working, about a week after my solution!).
See also: How to get your cat to stop scratching all the things!
So when someone asks “How do I get my cat to stop peeing on my carpet?” this is what I will now tell them.
I *just* went through this. I know how frustrating it can be! Like, bring-you-to-tears frustrating.
It’s a lengthy guide, but hopefully it has everything you need to know in it. BTW be prepared to shell out some dough to solve this problem. Bonus: you only have to solve it once, and then you and your cat are sitting pretty.
If you are having this problem, stop and do this before you read onwards: Take your cat to the vet. Tell them what’s going on and make sure it’s not a medical issue. $30 exam can save you a world of trouble and bring peace of mind.
And as I said, the solution to this problem is not cheap. I’ve just spent about a hundred bucks on everything I needed to do this. But you know what? It’s part of having a cat. If only every major problem in my life could be solved with a hundred bucks. Man. So you’ve been warned.
FOR ME, it was a combination of two things happening:
1) the cat smells the pee in the carpet and instinctually wants to keep peeing there. You can’t fight instinct, but you can learn to work with it.
2) the cat had problems using the litter box.
For #1, here’s what I did (and it’s only been a week, but it seems to be working, ie no cat pee on the carpet since!). You have to get the cat pee out of the carpet. And not just like, “oh it’s much better” like you have to make it your muffin lovin’ mission in life to make sure that carpet it cleaner than when it came of the factory production line.
To do this:
Step one is make sure there are good litter box options FIRST before you do anything to the carpet. If you start messing with the carpet and there’s no where for the cat to go, guess what buddy you’re just going to have another patch of carpet with pee on it to deal with.
The Happy-Feline-Making Litter Box Equation: # of Cats + 1 = # of Litter Boxes Needed. For me, this means 3 litter boxes (2 cats). I live in a small apartment and having three litter boxes is a drag. What makes it worth it? That I have two happy kitties who PEE IN THEM and not on my floor haha.
Make sure the boxes are not near each other. Make sure to clean them every day. (My litter box life changed when I got a Litter Locker so I cannot recommend them highly enough!)
Take all the litter out of the boxes, WASH THEM, dry them, and put fresh, new litter in them. Just start from scratch basically. If your litter box is old, you may need to replace it.
My three litter boxes are different designs, so the kitties have some options.
So now that there are several clean litter boxes to choose from, let’s get down to the business of that patch of carpet. It’s going to take some time, so hunker down and know that you are an amazing pet owner for even attempting to solve this extremely difficult problem. Bask in the knowledge that your hard work will pay off and your cat might even understand how dedicated you are to trying to make a good environment for it to thrive in.
I know, a cat- appreciating you? Seems farfetched, but it’s happening to me right now so I know it can happen toooo yooooouuuu!!!
Let’s get to it.
There’s no way around this: you’re going to get your hands dirty and it’s going to smell bad. Get over it son, because you are awesome and your life is about to get better.
You have a carpet cleaner, right? Get one. Best $50 you can spend when you have pets that make messes (the same cat has stomach issues and pukes randomly).
Get the pet stain and oder remover solution that goes with said carpet cleaner.
1) Saturate the carpet with the as-directed diluted solution, and use the carpet cleaner to suck it up. Do this several, several times. Like fill that tank up with that gross looking water (and flush it down the toilet!) as many times as you can stand. Around the whole area. Go big or go home. Put on a podcast and just sit there cleaning.
2) Wait for it to dry. Put a fan blowing over the area to help deter the cat from going there. Put a towel over it, or some tin foil. You do not want any cats going on the area until you have become Master of Carpet Cleaning.
3) Once it’s dry, put some carpet cleaning powder on there. Use a bristly brush to work it in there. I used the whole damn bottle of the powder, one half, then the other.
As per instructions, wait for it to do it’s thing, then vacuum it up. (I did this twice. HG don’t mess around.)
Now for the important part, the part which will make or break this whole shebang.
4) Get an enzymatic cleaner. They have simple instructions on the bottle, but let me tell you, none of them worked until I did all that other junk I just told you. Use it as per directions, which for me meant emptying half the bottle onto the carpet. Let it sit and do its work. (This takes a whole morning. Bask in the knowledge of how awesome you are for trying to fix this. Bask in it while you wait.) Then use the carpet cleaner to suck it up. Then I emptied the other half the bottle on the carpet and let it *dry* as per directions. This took a few days (again with the towels/tin foil and a fan on it!).
Vacuum the whole area.
There’s still a residue of that powder cleaner/deodorizer on mine, and I think I’d recommend putting a little sprinkling of something like that on the whole area.
You should now have 1) a patch of carpet that is much cleaner than any other in your house and 2) zero urine smell there.
Now: watch your cat.
If your cat is “looking for a place to pee” clean the litter box in front of your cat. Show them that it’s clean.
*Do not put your cat in the litter box!* This causes stress, and associates the litter box with being stressed.
When your cat goes near the litter box, give them treats. Make the litter box such a happy area- like entice them there and pet them and give them treats, so it is a safe place. You want them to associate the litter boxes with truly good things so they love being around it.
If your cat shows interest in the pee carpet area: don’t freak out. Just watch them. They’re used to going there right? They’re going to want to smell it a bunch. They need to scope it out.
This is when it will all be decided: can your cat smell any urine there still?
Hopefully not. Hopefully it’s as clean as the day it was made, and now it doesn’t force the cat’s little cat brain to think of it as the place they pee.
Praise your cat when they leave the pee carpet area. Give them treats. If they head to the litter box: leave them alone! Give them some space. When they use the litter box and jump out baby you’re in the clear! Give them so many treats and love and play with them.
You did it.
Keep on associating the litter boxes with good stuff for a while.
Generally play with your cat more.
Build them some cat shelves if you can (you have WALLS, right? Then you have room for cat shelves!). Your cat needs options to feel safe, and high up perches can help accomplish this.
(I had to put my ‘problem’ cat up on the shelves for the first three times, but now she lives on them and loves them and is generally happier).
I also recommend getting Feliway: my problem cat has been much, MUCH better since I got the diffuser.
A bit about how that works: you know how cats rub their faces on your legs, on your furniture, on everything? They’re rubbing the ‘territory’ pheromone on stuff, to mark their home as a safe place.
Feliway is that very pheromone (it’s not specific to an individual cat apparently) and it saturates the air with it. So now your whole house should smell like a safe and wonderful place. It really did wonders for my previously skittish and pretty terrible cat. She’s happy and friendly now.
OK so that covered the bases I think.
1) Good, clean litter box options.
2) Clean the heck out of that carpet so no urine remains.
3) Reward the behaviour you want to see.
5) Cat shelves.
6) Bask in the knowledge of your awesomeness.
Got it? Good luck. I understand how frustrated you are right now if you are reading this, but know that it is a solvable problem. Good on you for trying. I hope you and you cat are better off after you undertake this task!
*Edit on March 29th 2015*
Full disclosure: my cat relapsed. Even after all that work, she started peeing on that spot again. I had to clean the heck out of it and try something in addition to all that. It seems to be working. I cleaned with this enzyme cleaner and then used some carpet freshener powder. THEN I got this “SHOO!” deterrent so she wouldn’t want to smell the area at all. I spray that stuff on there every day. Hopefully this will do the trick to keep her from wanting to smell it! I will update if any further problems occur. As I have learned, it may take more than one shot to fix this problem. Good luck!
*Edit on July 16th 2015*
I’ve been in the clear since my last edit. I do occasionally sprinkle a pet odor eliminator powder on the area just to be sure that it’s not something she wants to smell and start the cycle all over again.