Enzyme Cleaners for Cat Urine - Cat Info Detective

Enzyme Cleaners for Cat Urine

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Greetings cat lovers one and all! Skye Blake here, tracking down products you can use for cleaning cat urine and its odor.

In order to understand more about why our pee smells bad and is so hard to clean, check out “Cleaning Cat Urine“.

paw prints coming in from a distance

If you’re trying to figure out why this is happening, take a look at “Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box?” or “Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside the Box?

Then come back here to learn why enzyme cleaners are best to use…

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs. 

Who Is Skye Blake?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page.

Sources are given at the bottom of each page for those who want to do more snooping.

Cleaning Cat Urine

unhappy cleaner, enzyme cleaner

As mentioned at “Cleaning Cat Urine“, you can’t just grab the carpet cleaner, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent or bleach because they can’t get rid of the uric acid (thiols).

Uric acid bonds tightly to anything it touches, doesn’t dissolve in water and can take many years to break down… the smell never goes away!

living room furniture

Not only don’t they clean it, but some cleaners actually set the urine in the material so it’s more difficult to remove!

You need a product made specifically for cat urine stain and odor removal.

It shouldn’t have ammonia, which smells like pee and will attract cats to pee there.

natural laundry enzyme cleaners

Soaps and other cleaners clean some of the urine and it looks clean, even smells clean when it dries.

Home or “natural” products like vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide can work temporarily, but they don’t eliminate thiols.

But as soon as the room gets some humidity, the uric acid salts crystalize again, et voila, the smell is back! Grrrr!

Use An Enzyme Product Made for Cleaning Cat Urine

cat on it's side

There is, however, an answer that works… yay!

Cat behaviorists and veterinarians recommend enzyme-based cleaners for dealing with urine stains and odors.

Enzyme-based cleaners seem to be a universal recommendation, so we’ll focus, for now, on these, rather than chemically based or other cleaners.

This should give you the greatest chance of success if you use them properly.

Tabby, white cat playing

Enzymes have specific targets so it’s important to match the enzyme cleaner with what it actually cleans.

Enzymes clean differently from cleaners you’re used to using.

You have to follow the directions carefully for them to be effective… It’s not difficult, just different.

What Are Enzymes and How Do They Work?

Scientist holding a beaker-representing enzymes that clean cat urine

Enzymes are not living organisms.

They are long-chain proteins made by certain bacteria, which are living organisms.

They make it possible for bacteria to do their work, speeding up the process of breaking down soil and waste materials chemically for bacteria to be able to “eat” them.

The bacteria break them down into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O).

drawing of bacteria

Specific enzymes used to clean cat pee are the only way to get rid of the uric acid salts once and for all.

They break it down into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water, allowing the ammonia gas to dissipate into the air.

This is why it’s important to follow the instructions.

You must give it time to do this process by air drying overnight.

Sometimes it takes a couple of days or even a week, depending on conditions.

vacuum cleaner; cleaning fleas, cat pee

Enzymes are different from one another.

They’re very specific to the type of material or surface they work on and must be activated to work properly (such as having damp conditions).

As long as the dirt exists (in this case urine compounds), and is wet enough, the enzymes and bacteria will multiply and continue to work.

cleaning, clean, cleaner-3977589.jpg

This can continue for hours or days after application.

Once the dirt is gone the enzymes and bacteria stop working.

Enzyme cleaners can get into cracks and crevices that others can’t reach.

This makes them effective for tile, brick, and concrete, as well as carpet and wood.

Enzymes Are Environmentally Friendly

flying birds

Enzymes are environmentally safer than other cleaners and don’t have to be combined with detergents, abrasives, etc.

Their pH levels are neutral which makes them non-caustic.

Since they simply convert pee to carbon dioxide and water, enzymes don’t kill anything and don’t go down the drain into wastewater.

What Enzyme Cleaners Work Best for Cat Urine?

Spray bottle for enzyme cleaner-cat urine

The brands mentioned on this page are for your information and convenience only. I make no money from them.

Not All Enzyme Cleaners are Created Equal

The product you use must be specifically made for cat urine, although some also work on other animal urine.

This is because cat pee contains different chemicals than dog and other animal urine (see “Cleaning Cat Urine“).

The best quality cleaners are usually more expensive.

Lesser quality ones often have to be applied frequently, so you end up using a lot more.

Use Enzyme Cleaners by Themselves

kitten peeking around door; watching somebody clean cat urine

Don’t combine enzyme cleaners with other ones since this will reduce or destroy the effectiveness of the enzymes.

If you’ve put other cleaners on first and haven’t gotten them completely out, the enzymes may not work properly.

In this case, try using a pre-enzyme before the enzyme cleaner (MisterMax Anti-Icky-Poo P-Bath Pre-Treatment is one example.)

tabby cat face upside down

You can use some cleaners, but not all, directly on pets or people (e.g., for skunk smell removal).

Read the labels closely to be sure you’re getting what you need.

Enzyme cleaners are also good for eliminating outdoor urine and other odors.

Black cat and cocker spaniel dog lounging together

Most on the market are for dog accidents, but might also do well for cat urine odors on patios, around doors, etc.

One possibility is Simple Green Outdoor Odor Eliminator for Pets.

There are also products that feature using oxygen to eliminate odors, however, I’ve not found evidence that they work as well as or better than enzymes.

No matter which one you buy, be sure it’s specifically for cat urine and follow the instructions carefully.

The Basics of Using Enzyme Cleaners

tabby cat lying on a rug-floors are often places where cat urine needs to be cleaned

Here are the basic steps for using enzyme cleaners…

  • If the stain is fresh, blot up as much as possible
  • Be sure the product works on the surface you’re cleaning (carpet, wood, brick, etc.)
  • Carefully follow the instructions on the bottle
  • Soak the area well (don’t just spray lightly)… Get the enzymes deep into cracks and fibers. Cat pee wicks down into carpeting and other materials.
canister vacuum
  • Let the enzymes stay on as long as possible
  • Then blot up as much of the cleaner as you can
  • Let it air dry for the amount of time specified (usually overnight)
  • Cover the area so it can dry slowly. Tarp, foil, or plastic bags placed loosely over the area work well.
silver tabby kitten on a bed; cleaning cat urine

The longer it stays wet, the more active the enzymes will be, which cleans the pee.

Covering it keeps your cat from peeing where the enzymes are working.

It also keeps people from walking or sitting on it.

Silver tabby kitten looking scared - on sofa by pillow

This can work even on mattresses and pillows where the pee has soaked down in… as long as you make sure the cleaner soaks in where the pee is.

Once you’ve finished the treatment, use a black light to be sure all urine is gone.

If anything still shows up, treat it again or reactivate the enzymes with water.

There’s Hope to Clean ALL the Cat Urine!

vacuum cleaner head; cleaning cat urine, fleas

As you can see, there’s hope to finally get rid of all the cat pee stains in and outside your home.

If you clean cat urine carefully and make changes to help your cat be secure in his world, you’ll be able to live stain-free and happy with your little buddy!

Discover more about getting your kitty happily back in the box at “Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box?

List of Enzyme Cleaners

disinfectant, spray, trigger, enzyme urine cleaner

Here are some enzyme cleaners for cat urine with a good reputation… this is not a complete list.

Always read the description, label, and the latest reviews carefully to be sure it’s what you want.

The brands listed are for your information and convenience only. I make no money from them…

cleaners
  • Angry Orange Stain Remover Enzyme Cleaner
  • Anti-Icky Poo Live Bacteria Enzyme Solution
  • Nok Out Odor Remover, Pet Deodorizer and Cleaning Spray
spray, enzyme urine cleaner
  • Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator
  • Simple Green Cat Stain & Odor Remover
  • Sunny & Honey Pet Stain & Odor Miracle

Curious about types of cat litter and boxes? Discover more at “Supplies For Cats“.


Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

“DIY Cat Stain & Odor Remover That Actually Works”, by Chrissie Klinger, Hills, November 14, 2016

“Enzyme Science”, About Cleaning Products

Enzymatic Cleaners: Everything Pets Owners Need to Know” by Angry Orange™

“How to Clean Urine in 6 Steps”, Feliway

SCOE10X

“How to Remove Cat Urine: Why an Enzyme Cleaner Must Be Used”, CatCentric, by Laurie Goldstein, November 2011

“How Bio-Enzymatic Cleaners Work”, by Selmene Ouertani, Ecomastery Project, October 5, 2017,

“The Top Five Uses for Enzyme Cleaners in the Home”, National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors

“Why You Should Use Enzyme Cleaners for Your Home”, Pro-Tek Products

The Cat Whisperer by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, Bantam Books, The Random House Publishing Group, New York NY, 2013, www.bantamdell.com

Think Like a Cat, How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Penguin Books, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York, NY, 2000, 2011,

Total Cat Mojo by Jackson Galaxy with Mikel Delgado, PhD, Tarcher Perigree, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York, NY, 2017,

“A Major Urinary Protein of the Domestic Cat Regulates the Production of Felinine, a Putative Pheromone Precursor”, Science Direct, Chemistry & Biology, Volume 13, Issue 10, October 2006, Pages 1071-1079

Updated April 11, 2024

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