Cats are the most popular pet in the world. If you own one, you know the benefits of having these small, furry, mammals in your life. And they’re an endless source of internet memes!
I own a cat that my girlfriend claims is a bit of a male diva. What I try and explain to her is that cats are, by default, emotionally demanding, masters of creating unnecessary drama, fussy over their appearance, and basically can make the world revolve around them.
However, my cat – in addition to the aforementioned traits – is also extremely fastidious about the cleanliness of the litter boxes. Yes, I have one cat and two litter boxes (the general rule of thumb is the same number of litter boxes as cats, plus one).
But even for him, that rule wasn’t good enough. Throughout the day he would relieve himself in one litter box, then the other litter box, and then – not finding it suitable to re-use one of the litter boxes – the carpeted corner of my bedroom.
If you’ve had the good fortune of dealing with cat urine outside the litter box, you know that it is the most offensive and unpleasant excretions from a house pet. Not only does it make your eyes burn and your hair fall out, but the smell of cat urine causes cats to revisit the scene of the accident.
If you Google solutions to cleaning cat urine accidents, you’ll find everything from expensive commercial products to homemade remedies.
And I tried them all! The bio-enzymatic formula of Urine Off, the urine destroyer and odor lock technology of Nature’s Miracle, a clinically tested litter attractant, even a BISSELL Carpet Cleaner.
These products – while generally decent – only mask the underlying problem: Once cat urine has permeated carpet and the pad, there’s no way to completely get rid of it.
The only way to permanently remove cat urine is to replace the carpet
That’s the truth. After a year of fighting cat urine with the aforementioned ammunition, I surrendered and chose to replace the carpet and pad. If you choose this option, here’s the steps you need to take:
1. Choose installer
There should be plenty of flooring dealers and installers in your city. I’d suggest getting recommendations directly from friends and family (Facebook works great for this), or by browsing the reviews within the Flooring or Carpeting categories on Yelp.
I chose to go with Home Depot because they offered the lowest cost for my project.
In my experience with Home Depot, the first thing I did was schedule a measure. They’ll send someone out to get the room dimensions for $35 (which is credited toward the cost of the installation).
2. Choose carpet and pad
This may be the most difficult and time-consuming decision because of the myriad options out there.
For carpet, I chose the cost-effective and neutral Martha Stewart Balmoral Sisal Tonal which runs $1.91 a square foot (or $17.19 a square yard).
When choosing a pad make sure it’s at least 7/16-inch thick, 8 pound density, and has a moisture barrier to prevent any future accidents from reaching the pad.
For pad, I chose Step Ahead (made from chopped up Nikes!), which runs $0.69 a square foot (or $6.21 a square yard).
At this point, you should be ready to schedule the installation date.
3. Clean and treat the area
If the carpet is in a room you plan to utilize until the installation date, you can easily remove only the damaged area by cutting through the carpet and pad with a utility knife. To be on the safe side, extend the perimeter by at least a foot.
If you have the luxury of removing the carpet and pad from the whole room at this time, go for it.
If the damaged area is adjacent to a wall, you should remove the tack strips as well (the installers will put down new ones). These can be pried up using a hammer and screwdriver, or a small pry bar.
If you have a wood subfloor, remove the nails that keep the tack strips in place. If you have a concrete subfloor, you’ll find that removing the nails will leave large divots in the subfloor, which need to be filled in with spackling. To get around that, simply cut the nails flush with the floor with a multi-tool (e.g. Dremel).
Next, treat the area (baseboards included) with the following method:
- Mix 50% white vinegar with 50% water.
- Pour over the area and lightly scrub. Allow to dry.
- Sprinkle baking soda heavily over the entire area and leave for 24 hours.
- Mix 50% hydrogen peroxide, 50% water, and a teaspoon of dish detergent.
- Pour over the baking soda and lightly scrub. Allow to dry.
- Vacuum area.
The final step of the treatment is to seal in any remaining odors with two coats of Shellac.
Shellac is quick drying – within an hour – so two coats can easily be done in an evening. Make sure you have ammonia on hand to clean the brush otherwise the Shellac will harden the bristles.
4. Carpet installation
If you haven’t removed all the carpet and pad because you’re still using the room, you’ll want to move the furniture, rip up the remaining carpet and pad, and vacuum at least one day prior to the scheduled installation.
Once the installers show up, you can relax knowing that you will have new carpet in no time!
5. A pee-free room
If you’ve been dealing with cat urine outside the litter box, the best feeling is knowing that the problem is over. I can report that my cat no longer considers the carpeted corner of the room to be a restroom.
There were two ways I saved money on this project: Moving my furniture saved me $50.00 and ripping up the carpet and pad saved me $88.20.
The total project cost was $458.19. I paid $309.42 for 162 square feet of carpet, $111.78 for the pad, and $37.00 for installation.