Cats make some of the greatest pets in the world. They’re inquisitive and energetic creatures who still know how to give you space. Each kitty has its own unique personality. But like many animals, cats can carry diseases with them. Kitty cleanup is a routine part of being a cat owner. It’s vitally important to be careful with the removal of feces and urine. If you don’t take the proper precautions, you may end up with disease and sickness.
Cat Urine, Ammonia Poisoning and Side Effects
Like humans, the urine of a cat is made up mostly of water. However, there are also certain chemical compounds present. One of these is ammonia. You’re probably familiar with ammonia already, as it’s a common staple of cleaning supplies. Like the ammonia in bottles, the concentrated ammonia in cat urine causes a strong odor. In people with ammonia sensitivities, this can trigger allergy symptoms and asthma attacks.
As long as the litter box undergoes regular cleaning, and cats don’t pee anywhere other than the litter box, it’s uncommon for ammonia to present a problem. But there have been cases where the residue of cat urine and ammonia have caused serious health repercussions, even in people who are completely healthy otherwise.
Cat urine has a much stronger ammonia concentration than human urine, which makes it more odiferous. Ammonia from cat pee can irritate the throat, nose, and eyes. For people with sensory issues, an extreme odor can even cause painful headaches.
In the vast majority of cases, the ammonia in cat urine isn’t dangerous. However, there have been cases where it became hazardous. Poorly ventilated environments with several cats are more prone to ammonia concentration. Ammonia also gathers in homes when a cat owner fails to clean the cat urine immediately. This leads to a compromised overall air quality.
Overpowering levels of ammonia can cause a number of respiratory issues including infection, coughing, lung irritation, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Longer exposure increases the chances of a person developing problems with their health.
When to Worry You Have a Problem
A cat who regularly pees in the litter box shouldn’t cause concern. It’s important that you clean the box frequently. However, some cats simply don’t want to pee where they’re supposed to.
Unfixed males in particular have a habit of spraying urine. They lift their tails and spray on walls, curtains, and other vertical surfaces. Oftentimes, the owner has no idea about the spray until after the urine dries. Dry urine is more highly concentrated. As time goes on, it decomposes, causing horrible odors. You can’t eliminate the smell until you find the source.
This is also true of cats that pee in places other than the litter box. Some cats will squat and pee in one place multiple times. The best way to stop a repeat occurrence is by making sure every trace of the odor is gone.
The more undetected urine in the house, the higher the concerns become. Carpeting, rugs, beds, and upholstered furniture can all give cat owners a unique challenge. The fabric absorbs the urine, so it’s far more difficult to remove than on a hard surface.
How to Deal With Heavy Ammonia Concentration
If a house smells like ammonia, it’s important to ventilate it right away. All the doors and windows should be opened to encourage fresh air to enter and foul air to exit.
You should try to locate as many peed-on objects as possible and remove them from the home. Couch cushions, the litter box, and pet beds are often good places to start. If you enter an overpoweringly smelly area, you should wear a respirator.
Make sure you wear gloves when touching any potentially dirty items. Never touch dirty areas with your bare skin.
Wash your floors and any surfaces that came into contact with cat spray. Gather up all the machine washable objects and place them in the washing machine. Follow the care tag instructions, and make sure not to use any fabric softeners. To get rid of final lingering smells, add a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine.
If a cat has repeatedly peed on the same patch of carpet, a steam cleaning might not solve the problem. The carpet pad and floor underneath may also carry urine. It’s possible that you’ll need to replace whole sections of your floor and carpet, but that’s a worst case scenario.
Cat Urine Allergy
Millions of people are allergic to cats. Many mistakenly believe that cat hair is to blame. In actuality, the allergen is a specific protein found in the cat’s skin, saliva, and urine. Exposure to cat urine can cause an allergic reaction, as can exposure to dander and saliva.
The allergic reaction occurs when your immune system mislabels a harmless protein as a harmful agent. The immune system then floods your body with histamines to combat the perceived threat. This causes classic allergy symptoms like swollen eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing, and shortness of breath. Histamine may also cause skin rashes.
People aren’t allergic to cat urine itself. But they are allergic to a protein found in cat urine. This protein is unique to cats. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. You can develop an allergy at any point in your life due to exposure.
Aside from extreme circumstances, you don’t need to worry about cat urine causing ammonia poisoning. What’s important is to take care of cat urine and feces promptly. This means regularly cleaning the litter box, cleaning up any other incidents, and training your kitties to use the litter box exclusively.