Have you ever found yourself dizzy after cleaning your cat’s litter box and wondered if it’s more than a coincidence?
Or perhaps you’ve heard tales of cat urine causing dizziness and dismissed it as an urban myth?
As ridiculous as it might seem, it has caused some concern among cat parents who are exposed to cat pee on a daily basis.
Can you start to feel dizzy when you inhale cat urine?
Cat pee on its own isn’t dangerous enough to give you dizzy spells. But when cat pee is allowed to sit for hours or even days without being cleaned away, chemical reactions might cause dizziness after prolonged exposure.
In this article, we’ll explore cat urine composition, its potential link to dizziness, associated health risks, and safety tips.
How Potent Is Cat Urine?
As a pet owner, it is important to understand the harmful effects of inhaling cat urine. We need to take a look at the composition of cat urine.
The process of urinating is more than just eliminating waste from your cat’s body.
Besides removing waste, cats are also communicating and marking their territory.
This requires a strong, enduring scent that can withstand the test of time and rivals, hence the potency of cat urine.
If your cat is suffering from a urinary tract infection, the urine might smell even worse.
Cat pee consists mainly of water, urea, creatinine, uric acid and trace amounts of other chemical compounds.
The strength of cat urine odor primarily stems from a compound called urea, a waste product of protein metabolism.
And given that cats are pure meat eaters, their urine is high in urea.
When a cat urinates, urea is stable and odorless. But when exposed to the environment, urea starts to break down and releases ammonia, a substance known for its sharp, irritating odor.
If you ever smell cat urine that is stale, you will know what I mean.
Cat urine’s potency increases over time, releasing more ammonia and other smelly compounds.
What makes cat pee unique is due to the presence of an amino acid called felinine which isn’t present in the urine of other mammals.
When felinine degrades it starts to make cat pee even stinkier.
Can Cat Urine Get You Feeling Dizzy?
Prolonged and repeated exposure to cat urine may potentially cause some people to feel dizzy under certain circumstances.
This is due to the presence of ammonia in cat urine that has been left to sit.
It’s important to understand that not everyone will experience dizziness upon exposure to cat urine and such cases are rather rare.
If you’re particularly sensitive to smells or if you’re in a poorly ventilated area, the smell of cat urine can start to make you feel lightheaded or dizzy after some time.
Another potential issue can be tied to allergies.
Some people are allergic to cat urine and this can cause a number of symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and potentially dizziness.
I am usually quite unaffected by cat pee until I decided to volunteer at a cat shelter for a few months.
I was helping out at a shelter that had over 100 cats there.
It was rather kitty chaotic, to say the least.
There were 10-12 enclosures that were full of cats and each enclosure had 3-4 litter boxes for the cats to use.
The first time I tried cleaning out the litter box, the stench of the cat urine hit me so hard in the nostrils that I had to take a breather.
By the time I was done, I had emptied out close to 50 fully used litter boxes.
My head was spinning and I almost threw up from breathing in so much ammonia.
It got much better after I started wearing a face mask on my next visit.
What Else Can Happen If You Inhale Cat Pee?
Even though most pet owners won’t get dizzy from smelling their cat’s pee, there are other potential adverse side effects.
Cat urine ammonia is created when the bacteria in the air break down the urea in your cat’s urine.
The longer the pee is exposed to the environment, the stronger will be the smell of ammonia.
Have you ever walked into a toilet and smelt a sharp suffocating odor? That is the smell of ammonia.
Ammonia gas isn’t something that you want to be smelling deeply or often due to its abrasive nature.
There are some studies that claim to find the presence of DMT or N-Dimethyltryptamine in mammals.
This chemical compound is known to cause strong but short psychedelic effects when ingested.
It is known to be found in the urine of humans but not in cats.
Claims that you can you get high off cat urine are just bogus and nonsensical as there isn’t any scientific evidence to support such claims.
The Dangers Of Ammonia
Ammonia toxicity can cause some serious health problems:
- Burning sensation in the throat, eyes and nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Respiratory issues
- Lung damage
You don’t have to start wearing a biohazard suit when cleaning out your cat’s litter box from now on.
Even though your cat’s pee does smell a little in the litter box, it doesn’t get too bad as long as you clear away the soiled litter daily.
I make it a point to throw away any soiled litter at least once a day.
If you leave the cat’s pee to stew in the heat and air for a few days, the smell of ammonia will be rather unbearable when you want to clear it.
High levels of ammonia can trigger respiratory problems.
This can also be very dangerous for cat owners who are suffering from bronchitis and asthma.
It is essential to clean areas soiled with cat urine promptly and thoroughly.
This helps to prevent a lingering smell but also to limit exposure to potentially irritating substances.
Make sure that your cat’s litter box is in a well-ventilated area to prevent it from stinking up the entire house.
If you are sensitive to the chemical compounds found in urine, use a mask and gloves when cleaning the litter box.
Is Cat Urine The Same As Human Urine?
The chemical compounds found in cat urine are almost identical to human urine except for a few differences.
Cat urine is very concentrated, much more than human and dog pee. This can make cat urine very sticky when it dries on the surface of your floor.
Never leave cat urine unattended or you won’t be able to get rid of the smell once it dries up.
This is due to the evolution of cats which are originally desert animals.
This means that our cats do not have a high thirst drive and get their hydration from the live prey that they hunt.
Their body is able to squeeze out whatever water is required to be passed out as concentrated urine.
Urine this concentrated tends to stink very badly when left uncleared.
There is another chemical compound called felinine in cat piss which adds to its ‘pungentness’.
When felinine is broken down by oxygen, it gives off a very strong sulfur smell which can make you gag.
Felinine is found in the pee of all cats but it is most concentrated in male cats that are not neutered.
If you have a tomcat living indoors with you, it is best to get it fixed before your house starts smelling like a public toilet.