Our cats sometimes have accidents. And sometimes, they happen on the couch.
It’s also not unheard of for cats to pee on the couch intentionally. While cats don’t hold grudges (or at least that’s what we believe), cats will pee on the couch to mark their territory.
How do you get cat pee out of the couch whatever its cause, and how long is the smell likely to linger?
How To Get Cat Pee Out Of the Couch
To get cat pee out of the couch, you can use an enzyme cleaner, baking soda or vinegar. Aim to blot instead of scrub, and wash the pillow covers or blankets that happened to be in the vicinity. Also try to uncover why your cat peed on the couch in the first place, to be able to prevent it from happening again.
Cat pee has a very distinct smell, so you should be able to tell when your cat has done its kitty business on your couch practically as soon as you walk into the room. While cleaning it up certainly won’t be a pleasant task, make sure not to get angry at your cat. Try to discover what made them do it. They may be ill or suffer from separation anxiety, or they could just have had an accident if they remained locked in your living room, for example.
You can use cat deterrents (in the form of a smell cats hate) to prevent it from happening again, if you believe your cat is doing it on purpose. However, cats rarely pee outside the litter box when everything is okay, so you need to check their health and stress levels.
Can You Get Cat Urine Out Of the Couch?
Yes, you can get cat urine out of the couch by blotting instead of scrubbing, and using either an enzyme cleanser, baking soda or white vinegar.
All of these products will tackle the smell as well, so after a bit of ventilation, your living room (and the couch) should be cat pee- and cat pee odor-free.
Here is how to get cat pee out of the couch:
Remove the Covers and Pillows
First of all, you want to remove all the pillows, blankets and the sofa cover if you have one and throw them in the washer. You can also wash them by hand with laundry detergent, if the fabric is very delicate.
Find All the Stains With a Black Light
Ideally, you want to get to the pee as soon as possible. If you see your cat actually peeing on the couch, it will be easy to identify the spot that needs cleaning. But if you arrive home to a semi-dry patch, you will need to check how extensive the staining is.
You can use a bit of a forensic trick: if you have a black light (as one does), you can run it over the couch to see where the stains are. They will show up greenish-yellow.
If you don’t have one of these handy tools, you can rely on your sense of smell and touch (wash your hands afterwards!). You want to remove all the stains, as any leftover pee smell can encourage a cat to repeat their offense.
Blot, Don’t Scrub
Contrary to what your first instinct may be, you actually want to blot cat pee, and not scrub it. Scrubbing will only make it seep deeper into the fabric, and you can make the smell even worse.
Use a towel or a rag and dab it over the stain to soak up the wetness. Don’t press too hard, and use small, gentle blotting motions to soak up as much as you can.
Try an Enzymatic Cleaner
The best product for cleaning cat pee off a couch is an enzymatic cleaner: not bleach and especially not an ammonia-based cleaner. You can easily find a product you like in your local store or online. You can also look for them in pet stores.
Follow the instructions on both the product’s packaging and the ones that came with your couch. Some fabrics are more sensitive than others, so make sure you cause no damage.
You can also try using vinegar to get rid of the cat pee from the couch. While it will smell just as strong, it will kill all the bacteria in the pee that cause that smell.
Mix one part water with one part vinegar in a cup or bowl and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the entire stain and let it dry. Repeat until the smell is completely gone.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda will also neutralize the smell of cat pee. All you have to do is pour a very generous amount over the stain and let it sit. The longer the better. Use a vacuum to get rid of it and repeat the process until the smell is gone.
Make sure your cat is nowhere around when you do this, as they should not be inhaling any of the baking soda. Be very thorough when vacuuming to get rid of the smallest bits.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
You can also combine these two methods: spray the water/vinegar mixture on the stain and let it sit. Use a rag or a towel to absorb any of the moisture and pour baking soda over it. Let it sit for as long as possible and vacuum.
How Do You Get Urine Out Of the Couch After It Has Dried?
If the cat pee has dried by the time you found it, use a combination of dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to get rid of it.
Mix 2-3 drops of the dish soap with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 300 milliliters of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Wear gloves while doing this. Pour into a spray bottle and shake it to mix the ingredients.
The hydrogen peroxide will break the acid in the pee down and make the stain easier to remove, while the baking soda is there to help with the smell.
Spray the mixture on the stain and let it soak in. Leave it to sit for a while before blotting. Rinse the residue away with a damp cloth. You can expect it to foam a bit. Then gently dab to get rid of the soap, blot with a dry cloth and let it air dry.
Make sure your cat is not in the room while you are doing the cleaning, as you don’t want them near the cleaning solution.
Cleaning Products to Avoid
Don’t use ammonia or bleach to remove cat pee from your couch. Ammonia smells like cat pee and can attract your cat to commit their felony again, while bleach can damage your couch. Don’t use a steam cleaner either, as it will push the stain deeper.
Ammonia-based cleaners are the worst choice for cleaning cat pee stains, as they actually smell like said pee. Well, pee smells like ammonia, but you get the idea. If you reinforce this smell on the couch, your cat may keep peeing on it.
Bleach is very strong and should not be used to clean fabric. It is also toxic to your cat.
If you have a steam cleaner, you may want to whip it out to dissolve the cat pee. However, it will likely push it deeper into the material, and you will have a harder time getting rid of the smell.
Stick to enzyme-based cleaners, or baking soda and vinegar.
How Long Does Cat Urine Odor Last?
If you do nothing to remove it, cat urine odor can last forever. With the right cleaner though, you can get rid of it in a couple of hours.
Uric acid, the ingredient in cat pee that is responsible for that ammonia smell, is not water-soluble. In other words, if not broken down properly, it can literally linger forever. You may become desensitized to it, but the smell will still be there.
Cat pee also smells of bacteria and pheromones, while male cat’s pee also contains testosterone to drive away other cats. The sooner you are able to clean it, the better.
What Happens If You Leave Cat Pee on the Couch?
Leaving cat pee on the couch means it will continue to smell bad. You may also pick up an infection from the spreading bacteria, and your cat will likely just keep peeing there, drawn by its own smell.
The bacteria in cat pee will continue to spread and grow, making the smell worse and worse over time. The more of it there is, the more difficult it will be to clean. You can also pick up an infection from said infestation.
As your cat will smell its own pee on the couch, it will believe this is now the pee spot. If you don’t get rid of it, there will be many more stains to worry over.
Why Do Cats Pee on the Couch?
If your cat has peed on the couch, it may be ill or their litter box may be dirty. They may also be marking their territory and delivering a message.
When you first notice that pee stain on the couch, you will probably flip out a bit. Don’t get mad at your cat though, as they may have had a very good reason for their actions.
If your cat has a UTI or a bladder or kidney infection, they may be unable to hold it in and will have accidents outside the litter box. No matter where the cat has peed, you need to consider taking them to the vet for a checkup. One isolated incident may not be a sign of illness, but if it happens twice, it’s time to get the carrier out.
If your cat’s litter box is dirty or too small, they will not want to use it. You want to clean it after every use. Some cats are so particular that they will not use a practically clean litter box that has been used once, while others will be fine with going in a second time in the same litter. Make sure you understand your cat’s preferences and ensure the litter box is cleaned, especially if you are away.
Cats will also pee on the couch when they want to mark their territory. They will lift their butts and tail in the air and shake it as they pee. This behavior has nothing to do with illness or cleanliness. It’s their way of letting you know they feel threatened and stressed.
If you have multiple cats, this is a sign that they are not getting along and that they are fighting a turf war. If you have other pets, the same will apply. Cats who have undergone a major change, like moving, can also mark their territory.
Cats will also spray to attract a mate, so if your cat is not spayed or neutered, this could be the cause of their behavior.
Finally, some cats are just, well, evil. Not evil exactly, but they do certain things on purpose, out of revenge. Most animal behaviorists don’t support this theory, but I have a personal experience to back it up.
My good friend’s cat, DJ, used to pee in his shoe every single night. My friend’s shoe, obviously, not his own. DJ had to go to the vet for an injured paw for about a week. To show his displeasure and exactly how he felt about being forced into a box with bars and stuck with needles, he exacted his revenge with precision for another week after that.
My friend’s wife was completely spared. After all, she was not the one taking him to the vet.
I have no explanation for this behavior other than what I’ve already claimed it to be: revenge.
How to Prevent Your Cat From Peeing on the Couch
Cats don’t pee on the couch for no reason. There is either an issue with their litter box or they have cause to mark their territory. They could also be ill and require medical attention.
You are advised to spay or neuter your cat at the appropriate age (when they are 4-5 months old). It will prevent them from marking their territory to attract a mate.
If you have multiple cats, make sure there are plenty of litter boxes to go around and that each of them has plenty of privacy. If they don’t get along, start socialization exercises and ensure they feel safe and protected.
Your cat may also be suffering from anxiety, especially when on their own. You will want to speak to a vet or animal behaviorist to help them feel better and to stop them from peeing on the couch.
Clean all litter boxes regularly and ensure your cat likes their litter. Some cats are fussier than others, so a simple change of litter smell can do wonders.
You also need to make sure your cat is healthy and not peeing on the couch because they can’t help it. Older and ill cats are more likely to have accidents outside the litter box.
You can also use a deterrent. Spraying a deterrent scent around and on the couch can prevent a cat from peeing on it, but this is not actually a solution, merely a way to prevent couch stains. It does not get rid of the underlying issue.
Wrapping It Up
If your cat has had an accident on the couch, don’t lose your cool. Figure out why they have committed this transgression and do what you can to solve the real problem. Healthy, happy cats don’t pee on couches, so you should consider it a sign that something is wrong.