Why Has My Cat’s Pee Started To Smell Very Strongly Of Ammonia?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Here’s a story about my cat:

“My cat’s pee started smelling bad one day. And over time, it got so bad that my mom forced me to give my poor cat away to a friend!”

So with the pain of loss, I have collected the information that will help you out so that your pet does not face the same fate as mine.

So why does your cat’s pee smells of ammonia? Here your answer:

Cat’s urine already has a strong smell. But when it decomposes, it goes through some chemical reactions. As a result, ammonia is released. Ammonia smells really unpleasant, even in a small amount. There might be some biological problems in your cat which results in the strong-smelling urine.

You might be thinking:

“What are the biological problems” and “how can I solve these problems for my cat”

Keep reading to find the answers.

Reasons Why Your Cat’s Pee Smells Like Ammonia

So this smell of ammonia starts coming when a cat’s urine is left uncleaned. This causes the urea, which is the primary component of a cat’s urine, to decompose.

Ammonia is the result of the chemical reactions taken place by the decomposition of urea, which smells really bad.

The formulated representation looks like this:

Urea (urine) *decomposition* = Ammonia + Carbonic Acid

There are a lot of reasons for your cat’s urine to smell strongly of ammonia:

1. Dehydration:

The smell of urine can intensify if your cat drinks less water. This is because water dilutes the elements of urine. Cats can be reluctant to drink water for a number of reasons:

  • Dental pain
  • Smell of chlorine
  • Bowel of water is too deep, causing whisker fatigue.

Cats are generally particular about drinking water. Some cats also have an instinct to distrust stationary water and prefer to drink from running water source.

2. Abundance of protein in diet:

Strong-smelling cat urine can be a cause of inefficient diet. The cat urine should maintain a pH 6 to 6.4, according to the Journal of Nutrition. The reason is that urine with higher acidity will give off more smell.

A cat’s body turns the protein into amino acids. Which is then turned into ammonia and the ammonia is converted to urea by the liver.

So this means that excessive amount of protein consumption will cause the concentration of acid to be high in your cat’s urine.

3. Male cats:

The unneutered male cats have of stronger smelling urine. This is because the unneutered male cat have got more amount of urea in its urine.

As for a neutered male cat, they go through many hormonal changes, which causes in it to have less urea in it’s urine.  

5. Kidney Issues:

Smell of ammonia in the urine might be the sign that your cat is facing kidney problems.

This kidney problem is known as Acute Uremia. This is caused by injury of kidney performance. This causes the kidney unable to process waste and it is sent into the bladder.

As a result, urea is build up in the bladder, which ultimately means that ammonia is too, which causes strong smelling urine.

If you see the following symptoms in your cat including strong-smelling urine, then you might need to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Breath smelling of ammonia
  • Decreased urine output
  • Abnormal heart rate.

Now:

There is a good news and a bad news in this kidney matter.

I will just give you the bad news first:

Bad News:

Acute Uremia can lead to Stage 3 kidney failure. This is fatal for your cat and it will eventually die.

Good News:

Fortunately, Acute Uremia can be treated if it is caught at an early stage. And even if it has led to stage 3 kidney failure, the life of your pet can be extended to about even 5 years with proper medical treatment!

So seek advice of an expert if you know that your pet have got acute uremia.

How to Prevent Your Cat’s Urine to Smell of Ammonia

There are some ways to make your cat’s urine smell less of ammonia and more like normal cat urine.

1. Hydration

Make sure to keep your cat hydrated. If your cat is reluctant to drink water, then find the way that will make it drink water:

  • Try giving your cat water though a running water source. You can buy a cat water fountain for this matter.
  • Make sure that the water you give your cat is clean and as chlorine free as possible.
  • Make sure to put the right amount of water in the bowl in which you give water to your pet.
  • Keep the water bowl away from the litter tray as it makes the water to taste bad.

Watch these videos to know more about how to make your cat drink water:

2. Less protein

Feed the right amount of protein to your pet:

  • Consider changing the protein source. If your cat gets it’s protein from fish, try giving it some other kind of meat.
  • Have an age-appropriate diet for your cat to feed it.
  • Pay a visit to the vet to help make the perfect diet plan for your cat.

3. Health Check-up

You should consider to get a check-up of your cat if the urine starts smelling really bad.

This will help you to treat the acute uremia if your cat has it or capture the stage 3 kidney failure quicker so that it can be treated.

4. Clean the litter box

It does not means that if your cat’s pee smells of ammonia, then your cat must have got a medical problem. It may be that you did not clean the litter box on time.

Cleaning the litter box more often will prevent your cat’s pee to be decomposed and smell bad.

So it is the most important thing to keep in mind if you want to avoid the bad smell!

Watching this video will help you in cleaning your cat’s litter box efficiently:

Here’s the deal:

Your cat can also urinate outside the litter box if it have got the medical problems described above.

So keep reading to know how to sufficiently clean the cat urine with ammonia in it.

Cleaning the Urine

Cat’s urine have got a uric acid with crystals and salts that bond tightly to any surface they touch.

With the use of normal household cleaners, these crystals will be left behind. This results in the presence of the smell even after cleaning.

While cleaning your cat’s urine, you obviously need to remove the smell and the urine spot.

And so there are some do’s and don’ts you need to keep in mind.

DO’s

  • Using an enzyme cleaner is the only way to completely get rid of the smell and the yellowish urine spot. These type of cleaners eat the crystals and bacteria. 
  • You can find any pet urine stain and odor remover with enzymes in it if an enzyme cleaner is not easily available to you.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over any carpet or furniture (wherever your cat peed) after cleaning the place to get rid of the smell. Then vacuum the area.

Don’ts

  • Do not use normal cleaners. You will just be wasting your precious time.
  • Never, and I repeat never use an ammonia cleaner to clean your cat’s urine. Cat’s urine contains ammonia and using these type of cleaners will encourage your cat to pee on the same spot again!

The reason is that the cleaner with ammonia in it will cause the spot to smell like ammonia and so your cat will think that it is it’s litter box.

Related Questions

Is cat pee supposed to smell strong?

If you have an adult or neutered cat, chances are your feline’s urine smell isn’t too strong. Normal urine will have a slightly pungent, acidic scent that is fairly inoffensive and generally weak. Many cats experiencing a bladder or kidney problem will urinate outside the litter box.

How often should you change cat litter?

Twice a week is a general guideline for replacing clay litter, but depending on your circumstances, you may need to replace it every other day or only once a week. If you clean the litter box daily, you might only need to change clumping litter every two to three weeks.

Is clumping litter bad for cats?

Many mass-market cat litters contain significant amounts of silica dust which has been linked to upper respiratory issues in cats and even humans. Likewise, the chemical fragrances in many cat litters can also be toxic to cats.

Why does my poop smells like cat pee?

Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a chemical compound that has a pungent odour. Trimethylamine has been described as smelling like rotting fish, rotting eggs, garbage, or cat urine.

Conclusion

Cat’s urine can be difficult to handle, even without the smell of ammonia. Following the guidelines above will defiantly help you out and make it easier!

I wish I knew this information before my mom made me get rid of my cat. And so I hope this article helps everyone who’s in the danger zone.  

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