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Home > Cats > How to Get Cat Urine Smell & Stains Out of Leather (6 Methods)

How to Get Cat Urine Smell & Stains Out of Leather (6 Methods)

orange cat peed on the leather sofa

Cats have the unique ability to enchant, entertain, and sometimes frustrate us. We can forgive our naughty cats for most of their transgressions, but when they pee on your favorite shoes or expensive couch, you’re left with the chore of getting rid of both the stain and the smell!

You can try several methods that should help remove the stain and the odor. Then you can go back to appreciating your cat—with your leather shoes placed safely in your closet.


How to Get Cat Urine Smell and Stains Out of Leather

1. Blot

If the urine is fresh, you need to start by carefully blotting it up with a clean cloth or paper towel. Scrubbing will just press the urine deeper into the surface, so gentle blotting and dabbing will enable the liquid to be drawn up into the cloth and not back into the material.

cleaning leather sofa at home
Photo Credit: Freer, Shutterstock

2. Cover

Once you’ve blotted up the excess urine, you’ll want to use a new clean cloth or paper towel, rest it gently on top of the stain, and let it sit for a little while. This will help pull out the last of any moisture still in the leather.

3. Use Enzymatic Cleaners

Before you use any cleaner on your leather items, double-check any instructions that are on the label or that came with the product before you do anything.

Your best bet is to invest in an enzymatic cleaner. It’s designed to break down the ammonia and carbon dioxide found in the uric acid in urine. That is what makes it so effective against these kinds of odors and stains.

Double-check before you purchase any product to make sure it’s safe to use on leather.

That said, with an enzymatic cleaner, it’s more likely that there will be slight discoloration or fading on leather items. You should pre-test the cleaner on a spot that wouldn’t normally be noticed before using it on the urine stain.

Most of these cleaners require you to thoroughly saturate the stain, let it sit for around 5 minutes, and then blot dry. You can repeat this process until the urine stain and smell are gone. You don’t need to rinse off the cleaner.

Follow up with a leather conditioner, so your leather item doesn’t dry out from the cleaning process.

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4. Use Detergent, Baking Soda, and Peroxide

You can also use a homemade cleaner on your leather. This concoction can clean both old and new stains. Blot the stain (if it’s new) first, and then in a spray bottle, mix 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of good dish detergent and 3 tablespoons of baking soda.

Spray the stain, and let it sit for a few minutes. If the urine is still present after this time, spray and wait as many times as it takes for the stain to disappear. Use a clean but damp cloth or paper towel to wipe it off. Don’t forget to pre-test a spot first and use a leather conditioner when you’re done.

5. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can also mix a 50/50 mixture of distilled water (distilled is best but tap water is fine) with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, and gently wipe it off.

You can then sprinkle baking soda over the stain so it can absorb the excess moisture and odor. You might need to repeat these steps a few times.

Vinegar and Baking Soda
Photo Credit: _JPC-PROD, Shutterstock

6. Remove Residual Odor

If you’ve been successful at removing the stain but think that you can still smell the urine, try this out: Fill a bowl with coffee grounds or activated charcoal, and leave it next to or on top of the leather item overnight. Charcoal and coffee grounds work quite well at absorbing odors.


Why Does Cat Urine Stain & Smell So Bad?

Cat urine is mostly composed of uric acid, which is what gives it such a strong odor. When a cat pees and sits there for a while, the bacterium in the urine decomposes, which is what generates that strong ammonia odor.

As it continues to decompose, it releases something called mercaptans, which are also found in skunk spray, just to give you an idea of the intensity of cat urine odor.

If you’re the lucky owner of an intact male cat, their testosterone can intensify the odor. Senior cats can also have stinky pee because their kidneys don’t work quite as effectively as those of younger cats.

In addition to all of this, cats were originally desert animals, which means their urine tends to be much more concentrated than most other animals.

But with the right techniques and cleaners, you should usually be able to remove the stain and smell. It’s important to follow the instructions because there’s a right way and a wrong way to clean up cat pee.

person cleaning a brown leather couch
Photo Credit: Daleen Loest, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Pee Outside of the Box?

Before we tackle how to clean up your leather, let’s look at why your cat peed on it in the first place. Otherwise, it could keep happening, and you also want to ensure that your cat is healthy and happy. The following are a few common reasons that cats pee outside of the litter box.

  • Litter Box: Sometimes, the problem is the litter or the litter box itself. The box might not be the right size, or your cat might be having trouble getting into it. If you have the box in a high-traffic or noisy area, your cat could be avoiding it. The litter should have a medium to fine texture without any scent added, and it should be cleaned frequently.
  • Medical Problem: There are specific health conditions that can lead to your cat avoiding the litter box. Things like urinary tract infections and bladder stones are conditions that produce pain when a cat tries to urinate. Some cats will start to associate that pain with their litter box and stop using it. Some conditions like diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease can increase how frequently a cat urinates, which can cause them to pee outside the litter box.
  • Stress: Stress and anxiety can also lead to a cat urinating in inappropriate locations. A new pet or person introduced to the household could add a great deal of anxiety, as could moving to a new place. Cats prefer routine, so when things change, some cats might start urinating outside of the box due to stress.
If your cat seems to suddenly start urinating outside of the litter box, speak to your vet, especially if your cat appears to be in any pain. Address the problem to ensure your cat’s health and before it becomes a habit.


We hope that you can remove the odor and stain from your leather by following these steps. Don’t use any kind of bleach or product with ammonia in it. Not only could it damage your leather, but it can also draw your cat to the same spot because cat urine has an ammonia smell as well.

If you are dealing with an expensive leather item, you might want to consider having it professionally cleaned, just to be on the safe side.

Remember to address the problem, even if it means bringing in a vet and/or an animal behaviorist to ensure that your cat is in good health, both physically and mentally. You want a healthy and well-adjusted cat, as well as leather goods that are safe from your cat’s urine.

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Featured Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

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