Why Does My Car Smell Like Cat Pee?

It’s one of those days – you’re already late to an important meeting, and to make matters worse, as soon as you get in the car you realize there’s a very distinct and unpleasant smell. Have you ever managed to track down the source of this mysterious aroma? It can be embarrassing, but it turns out that your car may just be infested with cats (or something like it)!

Join me as I explore why my car smells like cat pee and what I can do:


If you’ve ever had the misfortune of finding out that your car smells like cat pee, you know how unpleasant and embarrassing it can be. But before you start to panic and invest in an expensive auto detailing service, let’s take a look at why a car might begin to smell like cat urine. This article will provide some insight into common causes of the problem and potential solutions for alleviating the unpleasant odor.

Causes of Cat Pee Smell in Cars

Cars are made of several different parts and materials, some of which can absorb odors like cat urine. Cat pee is composed of urea, uric acid, ammonia, creatine and various proteins which are very difficult to remove once absorbed. This means that the strong odor of cat pee can be hard to get rid of. It’s important to identify the source of a foul smell as soon as you notice it to take steps to remove it.

There are several possible causes for a cat pee smell in cars, including:

  • Spills – Cat urine spills on upholstery or carpets may have soaked into the material and have not been adequately cleaned up. Urine has a high salt content which can cause color fading if not removed immediately. It also breaks down fibers in fabrics over time which leads to unsightly stains that cannot be removed with regular cleaning products.
  • Buildup – If regular spills have not been dealt with, the odors may have accumulated in certain parts of the car like seats, containers or carpeting over time. Such buildup is more difficult to remove as it is often deeply entrenched into surfaces and fiber materials as well as hidden from plain sight due to furniture design or construction details. As such deeper cleaning techniques will often be necessary when dealing with this kind of buildup problem involving pet odors such as cat pee smell.
  • Air Vents – If the smell is coming from inside the car’s air vents then there could be something caught inside them that needs attention right away like dead rodents, insects or other debris looking for a safe escape route outthe your vehicle which can bring odors along with them! Make sure that no objects are blocking air flow through/outof your air vents before taking further action on removing any smells so you’ll know exactly what needs careful cleaning afterwards if necessary.

Removing the Cat Pee Smell from a Car

Cats are beloved fur babies. However, pet parents may encounter the unfortunate problem of their car smelling like cat pee. Cat urine has a very distinct and unpleasant smell that typically won’t go away on its own. To remove the odor, it’s important to take immediate action by using materials and solutions that are designed to break down the odor molecules while killing bacteria.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Enzyme Cleaner
  • Odor Absorbing Crystals
  • Odor Neutralizer Spray
  • Surface Cleaners or Wipes
  • Pet Stain Carpet/Upholstery Remover/Cleaner


  1. Begin by using a pet stain carpet or upholstery cleaner on any fabric interior surfaces in the car (seats, mats). These products will lift odors from fabric surfaces quickly. Make sure to follow manufacturer instructions for best results.
  2. To thoroughly clean hard surfaces (dashboard, door panels), use a surface cleaner or wipe that is designed for automotive use. Be sure to avoid cleaners with ammonia as cats pee contains high levels of ammonia and this could lead to additional problems if not neutralized properly.
  3. Pour some white vinegar into a bowl and place it near the car’s air vents in order to break down any lingering odors from cat urine in the air of the car interior while also killing any bacteria that is present. You can also opt to mist your carpets with the vinegar solution lightly then vacuum them after 15 minutes to help get rid of any lingering smells in your upholstery fabrics as well as your mats and carpets if necessary.
  4. Mix equal parts water and baking soda together into a paste then gently rub it into hard surfaces using a soft cloth, rubbing in circles until all dirt and grime are lifted away before wiping off excess paste with another cloth or paper towel dampened with water which will help neutralize residue left behind from the paste mixture used earlier. This process can be done multiple times until you no longer detect an odor inside your vehicle from cat pee.
  5. Use an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle according to manufacturer instructions, this should penetrate deep-rooted spots where urine may have soaked through for complete removal of urine molecules. If enzyme cleaners have not been effective enough, try an odor-absorbing crystal since these are highly rated due to their ability forming bonds between surface molecules, trapping them until they bond with whatever particles exist whenever they are exposed air inside your vehicle such as cat urine that has saturated upholstery fabrics, carpet fibers, etc.
  6. Remove odors completely by spraying an odor-neutralizing solution around your vehicle before closing windows tightly so solution does not evaporate before having chance do its job efficiently. This is especially useful if acidic fragrance left behind from other cleaning steps fails eliminate all dull pungent smells related cooking with tuna fish which could encourage cats come back again leave even more mess those hard spots reachable only through professional automotive detailing services!

Prevention of Cat Pee Smell in Cars

To keep cars from smelling like cat urine, one of the primary things to do is to make sure cats do not have access to the car. Cats will spray and pee in areas they perceive as their territory. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep cats out of cars by not allowing them inside when they are not accompanied by a human and by keeping kitty litter boxes well away from cars.

Cats may also try to claw and scratch the upholstery in cars, which can cause odors as well as damage. To protect upholstery, seat covers or even plastic tarp can be used and regularly changed out if necessary.

In addition, it is important to clean any residual odor and residue left behind after an accident has occurred with a pet-odor-removing product or an enzymatic cleaner that targets proteins within odors. Enzymatic cleaners work best when used in vehicles that remain shut for several hours after cleaning so the smell does not linger on—even after cleaning otherwise tough stains like red drinks that have been spilled in a car from time to time will create strong odors down the line if left uncleaned.

Lastly, it helps to leave windows open during warm days to let air circulate throughout the vehicle—from time to time leaving window cracked open for a few hours helps too!

Health Hazards of Cat Pee Smell in Cars

Exposure to cat pee smell in cars can cause health hazards and could even be a symptom of a larger concern. There are several potential causes to a car smelling like cat pee, including, but not limited to, pets using the car as a litter box, spilled food or drink attracting pests and animals, or faulty exhaust systems that don’t adequately vent vehicle emissions properly.

In addition to causing physical symptoms that can be unpleasant, these issues can be dangerous when inhaled over extended periods of time.

Cat urine smell is composed of ammonia, which is known to cause lung irritation if breathed in high concentrations. Prolonged exposure to this odor can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. It is important to quickly identify the source of the odor and contact an auto mechanic or take other steps as necessary (such as calling pest control companies) in order to address the issue promptly and avoid further health problems with prolonged exposure.

Other potential risks associated with prolonged exposure to ammonia fumes include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Eye irritation

As always when dealing with hazardous odors such as cat pee smell in cars it is important to use caution— stay in well-ventilated areas and even consider wearing protective face masks if you cannot find the source quickly or it persists for too long.

DIY Solutions to Cat Pee Smell in Cars

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a cat pee smell in your car, then you know it can be an unpleasant and sometimes embarrassing problem. Thankfully, there are effective solutions to help rid your vehicle of the nasty odor.

The first step is to clean any areas that may contain pet urine thoroughly. Use a cleaner designed specifically to remove pet odors by application directly to the affected area(s). Let it soak in if necessary. If you find a heavily saturated area, then you will likely need to use an enzyme-based cleaner from your local Pet Store or a do-it-yourself home remedy of white vinegar, baking soda and water.

Next, use an air freshener specifically labeled as “odor neutralizing” or “odor eliminating” and spray liberally throughout the car. This will help transform musty odors into fresh scents and help mask any remaining pet odors. If the scent isn’t strong enough, switch over to an aerosol spray in order to add more coverage.

Finally, it’s important to pay close attention to maintaining airflow throughout your vehicle by keeping windows open on nice days and running air conditioning on hot days. This prompts air circulation which will reduce stagnant smells within a few hours normally. Additionally, keep up with regular maintenance for the vehicle by frequently vacuuming so that any dust or debris does not become trapped within car mats or other interior surfaces which can cause odors over time as well as change out cabin air filters when needed for optimal performance with regards to quality of air being circulated through the car’s cabin environment.

Professional Solutions to Cat Pee Smell in Cars

If you find that your car has a strong cat pee smell, there are a few things you can do. It is important to act quickly and decisively to eliminate the persistent odor completely.

Here are some professional solutions for ridding your car of the stubborn odor of cat urine once and for all:

  1. Vacuum the interior of your car, paying close attention to any areas with carpets or upholstery where cats may have urinated. If you find wet spots, use a damp rag with vinegar and water or an enzyme-based cleaner to remove the spot and as much of the stain as possible.
  2. Clean all hard materials (such as plastics or metals) with an antibacterial cleaner or a special solution designed for pet accidents. Make sure these surfaces are completely dry before putting them back in place in your car.
  3. Place bowls of baking soda around areas that seem particularly odorous and let them sit overnight if possible; baking soda is said to absorb odors naturally, including smells produced by cat pee!
  4. Have a professional apply an industrial-strength deodorizer to remove any lingering odors created by pet pee in smaller, hard-to-reach areas like heating vents and crevices between seats and consoles where cleaning solutions may not be able to penetrate effectively on their own.
  5. Put ventilation fans in place near problem spots during warm weather months when windows can remain closed – this will help circulate air throughout the entire cabin, reducing odors from getting trapped inside! It may also be helpful to allow fresh air take over during these months by opening windows periodically throughout each day for five minutes at a time so an exchange of fresh air takes place on occasion.


In conclusion, if your car smells like cat pee, the most likely cause is that a cat or other animal has urinated in it. If this occurs, act quickly to clean and deodorize the area to prevent the smell from lingering. In some cases, a more serious issue may be causing the smell, such as an electrical component or loose vacuum hoses.

If you cannot identify and eliminate the smell, take your car to an automotive professional for help diagnosing and addressing the problem.