Do you have a serious cat urine problem? Dog odor issues? You just found the Odor Destroyer interview...

This is an interview with Philip Doolittle of If you’re looking for information on cat urine cleaner, cat urine remover, or pet urine issues in general, this is exactly the interview to read.

Which odor is the hardest to remove: cat urine, dog urine, cat poop, or dog poop?

Cat urine by far. Felines are historically from very arid areas where water can be scarce. As a result, their bodies retain as much water as possible and excrete a urine that is far more concentrated than that of other mammals. Because it is so super concentrated, it's naturally the most difficult to remove.

Pet urine really stinks. Why does it smell so bad?

Unlike humans who developed fences and street signs thousands of years ago, even our domesticated animals still mark their territory with odors. The most readily available and convenient means of doing this is to deposit urine. So, urine is in fact designed to have a very potent smell so other animals will know they're trespassing. As far as smelling bad, that depends on your perspective. The "stink" of urine is a human association with the unsanitary conditions typically found in areas where urine is deposited. Like a "port-o-john" for instance. But for animals, it's just another scent in a daily symphony of smells. So while we may think cat urine stinks, I'm sure that your pet thinks it quite odd that you put out that horrible smelling vanilla potpourri to welcome guests into your home.

Also, unlike feces urine has almost no odor of its own. The potent "ammonia" odor that you associate with urine are actually the by products of airborne bacteria feeding on the proteins and urea found in the urine. That's one reason why we decided on a solvent based product. It kills the bacteria and begins breaking down their food source at the same time. An enzyme based product (which we also carry) introduces large amount of good bacteria that attempt to overwhelm the bad bacteria and consume their food source. Note: If your pet is producing urine that smells strongly as it is deposited, see your vet. Strong smelling urine (particularly in females) is the sign of a bacterial infection of the urinary tract.

Can all pet odors, including urine, really be removed? Are the odors just being covered up?

There are many products on the market today that are little more than a cheap cover up. However, assuming that you are using a high quality reputable product there are very few odors that cannot be removed. It is important to note that successful odor abatement is not a quick and easy task. Those looking for fast and cheap solutions will likely be very disappointed. For example, if a pet urinates frequently in one spot for an extended period of time, the carpeting, padding, sub-flooring, and even the joists that support the sub-floor may be saturated with urine. With all products, the solution must reach the urine to neutralize it. In this case, successful treatment would require repeated treatments over a longer period of time (not unlike the urine itself) to penetrate deeply and reach all the latent urine. For a faster solution, one could remove the carpeting and sub-flooring and treat the affected materials directly. Someone in this situation looking for a "splash and dash" solution would likely be gravely disappointed with any product (including ours). The odor is in fact removable, it just may not be cost effective or within in the skills or patience of the homeowner to do so.

Another important thing to note in severe situations is that some materials may decompose before the urine itself. Carpeting for example has a fiber and glue backing. Extensive use of water based products will swell the fibers and cause them to tear free. Extensive use of solvent based products will break down the glue directly. In both cases, the homeowner must be mindful that it can be more cost effective to replace than to repair. In a "must save at any costs" situation, a carpeting professional would remove the carpeting and bring it back to their facility were they could employ repeated treat/shampoo/dry sequences to eliminate the urine odor with minimum damage to the material.

Why are pet odors like cat urine and dog urine so difficult to remove?

As we discussed earlier urine is used as a marker in the wild. And that marker is designed to remain potent on a bush/tree/rock despite being exposed to the elements of nature. It accomplishes this by forming complex crystals (mostly uric acid and urea) that bind very tightly with the surface onto which they attach. At the risk of sounding flippant, it's hard to remove because it's supposed to be. That's also why it takes multiple applications to remove the odors. These crystals are very hard like grains of sand. Each application eats away at some of the crystal but leaves some behind.

Why do cats spray? Is there an easy and cost effective way to prevent it?

Cats will urine mark, but also have the ability to spray. Cat spray is a very concentrated mixture of urine, pheromones, and fatty acids. The communicate a variety of messages including territory boundaries and the availability and readiness of their ability to mate. Often, the simplest way to prevent spraying is to eliminate the cause. If there is a strange cat prowling your yard, run him/her off. He may be marking the outside of your home or he may just be agitating your cat into marking his territory. If these are not successful, Feliway products can be used. Feliway mimics the marker that cats leave to remind themselves that an area is safe and secure. By making them feel more secure, the need to mark is significantly reduced.

What is the best way to prevent a dog or cat from urinating or pooping where it shouldn't?

Inappropriate elimination is almost always a sign of physical or emotional distress (e.g., FLUTD). Once it begins, the animal returns either from habit (the smell) or the same source of stress. First, eliminate the smell and then start looking for the source of stress. It may be as simple as an unclean litter box (as defined by your cat), a draft near the box, or a new dog next door. New babies and new pets (even birds) and even house guests frequently trigger inappropriate elimination. In any case, you pet is trying to tell you something. If the problem persists more than a few days, see your vet. Inappropriate elimination is often a sign of urinary tract infections or other ailments. Since your pet can't tell you directly, he hopes that you'll get the hint when he poops right in front of the TV you're watching.

Are all odor removal products safe for pets and children? Are there any risks?

Many are, but you should always read the label carefully. For example, Odor Destroyer has a solvent base. You should not use it on clothing, bedding, or other close contact items. For carpeting and furniture, you should not let anyone lay/crawl on the area until it had dried completely.

Is there an easy way to detect urine? Once the urine is found, what should be done first?

On most materials a fluorescent black light will cause the urine to glow yellow. You should definitely use one to locate urine as you will be much more effective if you know the extent of the problem. Next, treat the problem until the odor is gone, then shampoo out the residue. Don't shampoo first, as you will only spread the problem and reduce the ability to see it with your black light.

What is your best selling product? Why is it so popular?

That's a tough one. It fluctuates between Odor Destroyer solvent based urine odor remover and the CatScram silent cat repellent. I think that happens because many of our customers start out trying to eliminate the odor, and then realize that in order to be successful they need to keep kitty out from behind that chair in the corner. But, you asked for one so I'll have to give the nod to Odor Destroyer solvent. I have some customers who have been ordering it regularly for many years...

Odor Destroyer is a great looking site. Is there anything else that makes it special or unique?

Actually, yes. I'm very proud of our monthly newsletter. The newsletter is a free monthly email newsletter that contains articles on pet selection, care, and other pet related issues. In fact, many of the subjects we've discussed today have been discussed at length in previous issues. I knew I wanted to offer a newsletter and several customers had suggested the idea, but I was always leery. I didn't want to create yet another advertisement that disguised itself as a newsletter. And I didn't feel that would happen if I utilized in-house staff. So, after a broad search I contracted with an excellent professional writer named Lois Summers. She has full creative liberty and writes on whatever subjects she feels are appropriate. The results is a very informative, easy to read, newsletter that speaks to the needs of a pet owner. I recommend that all pet owners subscribe, even if they choose to do business with someone else.

Anything else that you would like to talk about? Anything special to share with readers?

Just that I'm a pet owner myself (1 dog, 4 cats, 1 turtle) and a pet rescuer. And despite being quite successful, this business has always been a labor of love for me. It started after a stray cat got locked in our home while we were away on vacation. We returned to find a horrible odor, many useless products, and very little information on the subject of odor removal. I started a quest to find a quality odor remover product, and report that information to the internet community. was born shortly thereafter. Five years later, I feel very blessed to have been able to make an impact on so many peoples homes and lives. I feel very confident that because of our efforts many pets that would have ended up in the shelters (or worse) are back in their owners good graces. To this day, nothing makes me happier than getting another email thanking us for doing what we do.

Editor's Comments

Thank you for your time Philip!

Readers: I am extremely impressed with Philip Doolittle and I strongly recommend that you to visit the site if you have pet odor problems.

p.s. Here are two more articles you might want to read:

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