3 Reasons Why Cat Urine Smells Like Ammonia

Many cat owners wonder why cat urine smells like ammonia. Ammonia is a by-product in urine, but the sudden strong smell can be a cause of concern. The problem can be either health-related or behavioral. Understand the different causes, symptoms and solutions in this situation.
Cat Urine Smells Like Ammonia

Many cat owners are aware of the pain that a smelly litter box causes. They find themselves wondering why cat urine smells like ammonia and the reason for the strong odor. Sometimes, this odor is so strong that it can permeate the entire house, which is less than desirable.

This can cause an even bigger problem if you have a cat that has frequent accidents or marks its territory. Once the smell is in your house, it can seem almost impossible to get rid of.

But what causes cat urine to smell like ammonia? And how do you control it? Let’s find out!

What Causes Cat Urine to Smell Like Ammonia?

The reason cat urine smells like ammonia is because it contains traces of it. The cat’s metabolism breaks down urea, one of the toxic by-products is ammonia, and releases it into the urine. This is the cause of an unpleasant smell.

If the litter box is not being cleaned frequently enough, it can smell of ammonia. And if the cats have a tendency to urinate outside of their box, it makes the problem even worse.

Illness can also cause the cat to urinate more frequently, or make the urine more concentrated with ammonia.

If your cat’s urine begins smelling stronger than usual, you may find yourself asking yourself what could have possibly happened to cause this sudden change. It is definitely not because your cat suddenly started producing more ammonia than usual!

The cause can be the changes to your cat’s well-being or their surroundings, resulting in the smell to become more noticeable.

Is It Normal for My Cat’s Urine to Smell Like Ammonia?

So, now we know what causes cat urine to smell like ammonia, but is it normal?

All cat pee will smell to some degree. But there are many reasons why the smell will suddenly invade your home. Some of these reasons are listed below.

  • The first and most obvious answer is, a dirty litter box. Luckily, this is also the easiest problem to avoid. If you’re noticing that your cat’s pee suddenly smells strongly of ammonia, but there have not been any changes to your cat’s health, it could be a sign that the cat needs fresh litter.
  • The litter is usually scented, thus masking the smell. But your cat peeing on other surfaces can increase the smell. This could include pee that is soaked into carpets and couches, spraying on walls or hidden accidents. Your cat marking on different surfaces can also enhance it. The smell then spreads all over your house. It may take you several weeks to find all of the affected spots in the house.
  • Remember that it is also possible for your cat’s urine to start to smell stronger due to illnesses and dehydration. It can cause the urine to become more concentrated or for the cat to produce more urea.

Cats are animals that often need encouragement to drink enough fluids. Feed your cat wet food at least once a day and have fresh water available at all times.

This can greatly increase the water intake and prevent dehydration.

The more water a cat drinks, the more diluted and less odorous their urine will become. Investing in a cat water fountain could be a great idea in this case.

Prolonged dehydration can even lead to kidney disease. So that’s another good reason to keep your cat as hydrated as possible!

Bladder infections can cause smelly cat urine as well. If you notice a sudden change in the smell of your cat’s urine, it is a good idea to have them checked by the vet as soon as possible!

Cats have very sensitive urinary systems. Receiving medical care as soon as a problem arises can prevent many more serious problems later on.

How Do I Keep the Ammonia Smell from Taking Over My House?

There is a number of ways in which you can keep strong ammonia smell from taking over your house.

#Tip 1: Clean the litter box more frequently. It can be the most effective way to control the ammonia smell in your home. If your cat’s litter box is getting a dirtier than usual, the smell will definitely spread more quickly. Scooping and changing the litter frequently can prevent that.

#Tip 2: Adding baking soda to the litter box can help keep it fresh longer by absorbing and neutralizing the urine odor.

#Tip 3: If you are keeping the litter box clean and yet the house is smelling strongly of ammonia from cat urine, then the cat may very well be marking their territory all over the house. If that’s the case, invest in a black light and some enzyme cleaner. The black light is useful for finding urine spots.

Read this article for more information on using the enzyme cleaner to destroy all traces of the cat urine in the house.


Sometimes, cat owners find it hard to deal with the strong ammonia odor emitted from cat’s urine. It causes their house to smell, and causes much worry about their pet’s well-being.

The causes of a strong ammonia smell in cat urine can range from mundane reasons like drinking too little water and territorial behavior, to much more serious health-related issues.

When cat urine smells like ammonia, it’s best to first figure out what is causing the smell. If there is a change in your cat’s urination habits, a vet visit is in order.

If it is a behavioral issue, then luckily there are great programs like this to deal with it along with a wide variety of enzymatic cleaners that will help along the way and discourage future marking!

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      The Dutiful Cat