Cleaning Common Cat Messes

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on August 22, 2020

If you’re a cat owner, you adore your feline even when they make a little accident. Knowing it’s inevitable and being prepared can make cleanup a breeze.

Cat Mess No. 1 -- Urine Sprays and Stains

Cats don't always aim straight for the litter box. When your cat leaves a "present" on the carpet, they could be spraying to mark their territory or objecting to the litter box’s location or cleanliness. They also might have a bladder infection.

Whatever your cat's reason for peeing on the carpet, it's going to stink if you don't clean it up quickly. Cats can sniff out areas they've marked and target them again.

  • Blot up as much urine as you can with paper towels.
  • Don't use any ammonia-based cleaning products. They smell like cat pee, which may entice kitty to re-mark the spot.
  • Soak the area with carpet cleaner or a few drops of dish detergent mixed with water. Let it sit for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Rinse with a wet sponge.
  • The next day, spray the area with an enzymatic cleaner such as A.O.E. (Animal Odor Eliminator), Elim-Odor Feline, or F.O.N. (Feline Odor Neutralizer).
  • Keep your cat away until the area dries.
  • To stop your cat from spraying, try a pheromone product. It smells like your cat's natural scent. One whiff, and they'll have no reason to mark their territory again.

Cat Mess No. 2 -- Poop

Cat poop may be smellier than urine, but it's easier to get off your floor.

  • Wear gloves. Cat feces may contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that's especially dangerous to pregnant women. If you're pregnant, let your partner clean up the mess.
  • Pick up the poop with paper towels. Throw it out in the same place you toss your litter box scoopings.
  • Rinse the area with cool water and blot dry.
  • Apply an enzyme-based pet stain-and-odor remover.

Cat Mess No. 3 -- Vomit

Like humans, cats vomit. Unlike humans, they don't do it in the toilet. Try to clean the mess before it sets to avoid odors and stubborn stains.

  • If the vomit is solid, pick it up with a paper towel. Then scrub the area with a pet-safe deodorizing cleaner.
  • If the vomit is loose, scrape it into one pile with a plastic spoon. Blot the area with paper towels. Then use a deodorizer or pet stain-and-odor remover.
  • You may need to clean stubborn stains or odors more than once.

Cat Mess No. 4 -- Fur

Whether their hair is long or short, cats shed--especially in the spring and fall.

  • Brush your long-hair cat several times a week to remove loose hairs so they don't end up on your couch. Your short-hair cat may need to be groomed less frequently.
  • Vacuum carpets, upholstery, and anywhere else hairballs fly.
  • Use a sticky fabric cleaner for pet hair, or a strip of masking tape, to clean cat fur off furniture and other surfaces before it gets on your clothes.

Most cat messes are sporadic and easy to clean. If your cat soils your carpets and never did this before, or they constantly soils the carpets, call your vet. It could be a sign of a health problem that needs attention.

Show Sources


Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: "Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling."

The Ohio State University: "How to Clean-Up Cat Urine." Christensen, Wendy. The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care, Macmillan, 2004.

Hotchner, Tracie. The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know, Penguin, 2007.

Church, Christine. House Cat: How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Sane and Sound, John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

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