Why Does Your Shoe Smell Like Cat Pee? – How Do You Get Rid Of

You must have complained several times about “why do shoes smell like cat pee.”

This problem is both familiar and universal. However, the solutions aren’t too complex, as we will see shortly. And the reasons as to why your shoe has developed a stinky problem wouldn’t be hard to realize.

If you own pets, the most obvious reason is that your cat has pissed on your shoes. But for those who DON’T have pets, there could be several reasons.

These could range from poor ventilation, unhygienic practices, or excessive sweating. The growth of bacteria and the material of the shoe itself are also the reasons for this smelly problem. And the solution is pretty obvious you need to wash your boots and adequately maintain them.

We would urge you to keep on reading. Here, we will discuss each potential reason and provide detailed solutions to the smelly problem.

Why Do Shoes Smell Like Cat Pee



Things You Can Try


Detergent wash

Tide Spring Meadow

Shoe materials

Water-vinegar mixture

Heinz Cleaning Vinegar


Baking soda

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Health issues

Shoe deodorizing sprays

Lumi Deodorizing Spray

Size issues

Isopropyl alcohol

Solimo Isopropyl Alcohol

Why Do Shoes Smell Like Cat Pee?

Why Do Shoes Smell Like Cat Pee

Before we move on to the solutions, let’s check why your shoes smell like cat pee. You will be surprised to see the diversity of the reasons.

1. Sweating Through Your Feet

A lot of people would sweat excessively through their feet. The sweat dampens the shoe interior, which becomes a thriving environment for bacterial growth. Later, the porous shoe paddings absorb these bacteria.

Inside the porous paddings, the bacteria reacts with the form and produces an acidic compound that smells like cat urine. Even wearing dirty socks for a long time can be equally harmful to intensify the arduous odor.

2. The Shoe Material

Many shoe manufacturers use a type of material called polyurethane for shoe soles. This family of materials is infamous for rotting when they come in contact with water. It could be sweat, rainwater, or even when they get exposed to moisture during cleaning. The reaction would produce a smell exactly like cat pee.

3. Not Cleaning Your Shoes Often

So you clean and brush up on your shoes regularly? Very few really do that, and it’s pretty common in people. As a result, every time they wear their shoes, it causes more bacteria and sweat to build up over time.

This causes the odor to become stronger. In fact, wearing dirty, bacteria-infested shoes for too long is a health hazard.

Leaving your shoes outdoors can expose them to dirt, moisture, and bacteria. So, unclean footbeds or insoles could also be why your shoes are smelly.

4. Underlying Health Conditions

This entry on the list may seem a bit outlandish and quite less likely. But it is not completely impossible.

Many people can have kidney issues which can affect the way they perspire (fancy word for sweating). Your body may excrete urea through sweating if the kidney can’t do that job properly.

Eventually, your shoes can smell like urea. This chemical contains ammonia, responsible for the pungent-smelling cat piss smell.

5. Tight Shoes Or Lack Of Ventilation

Work shoes are designed to be tight to offer safety and avoid work-related hazards. This creates a secondary problem, though. Having too tight work shoes can heavily restrict air passage within its interior.

This becomes a problem as the insides become moist and sweaty. And this creates a very smelly odor within the shoe, which could smell like cat urine.

Leather does not allow air to pass through it. This can worsen the problem as most work shoes are made of leather. You try Oristaco Breathable work shoes for a smell-free experience afterward.

6. Smells After Washing Or When The Shoes Become Wet

As discussed above, material issues with shoes are not uncommon, making your shoe smell foul. But in general, after an intense workout or exercise, your sports shoes would become very wet due to the sweat.

Another situation could also involve walking on wet terrain, which can cause the shoes to absorb moisture. This moisture can act as a breeding ground for bacteria, which in turn causes an intense smell from your shoes.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Cat Pee Smell?

How Do I Get Rid Of The Cat Pee Smell

The obvious approach would be to wash your shoes. But how? Let’s find out how to tackle it when someone asks why do shoes smell like cat pee.

1. A Good Wash With Soap Or Detergent

Wash your shoes or boots with a mild detergent solution. Ensure that the shoe is rinsed and washed correctly. Washing them too much could also ruin them. After washing, air-dry them.

Avoid drying them by sunlight if you have white shoes. Direct sunlight can also make the boots brittle. You can use a fan or a hairdryer to dry out your shoes.

2. Try Alternative Cleaning Methods

If the odor is still there, you can use baking soda and cornstarch mixture on the shoe. The solution absorbs the moisture and the cat urine smell. Leave your shoe overnight and wash it away.

Alternatively, you can make a vinegar and water mixture, with one cup of vinegar in three cups of water. Coat the shoe with this solution mixture. These processes help get rid of the pungent smell caused due to ammonia.

3. Deodorizing Sprays

You can also use certain enzyme sprays and solutions to break down the cat urine compound in your shoe. This is effective if your cat has peed on your shoes.

Isopropyl alcohol is also an excellent solution to apply to your smelly shoes. The solution should have a 70-80% alcohol concentration.

You can buy them from the store or make one on your own if you can. The alcoholic solution is best for getting rid of bacteria that may cause the ammonia smell. Be sure to take out the insole before applying the solution. Leave them to dry in the open air, but do not let them get wet or moist.


  • Why would my cat urinate on my shoes?

Cats urinate on things or locations to mark their territory. It is also possible you have put your shoes near your kitty’s litter box. But if your cat is well trained but has started urinating outside their litter box, you need to be concerned.

When they suffer from urinary tract infection (UTI) or have problems related to urinating, they will start doing so. Try the Coco Luna cranberry solution initially to make your furry friend feel comfortable. If it’s not working you should take your cat to the vet and get a health check-up.

And for safety purposes, keep your shoes out of your cat’s reach.

  • Why do Nike shoes smell like cat pee?

Nike used to make its shoe insoles with Teijin microfibers which would react with moisture or water and rot. It could also be some sort of manufacturing defect that can cause your Nike shoes to smell like cat urine. Other common factors may include bacterial growth or not cleaning your boots properly.

  • How do I get the ammonia smell out of my shoes?

The ammonia smell comes off due to the bacteria inside the shoe. Keep your shoes in a plastic bag and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. This way, the bacteria would be killed off, and hopefully, the smell.

Alternatively, you can apply baking soda and starch solution to the shoe. This would help absorb the cat’s urine smell overnight.

  • What causes a smell like cat urine?

The pungent smell from ammonia can cause a cat urine smell in your shoes. Sweat and moisture can cause bacteria to thrive inside the shoe. Sometimes it could also be mold, especially black mold that can be the source of the cat urine smell. Mould can be pretty dangerous as it can infect your foot as well.

  • Why do I smell cat pee when there is none?

Your house may have mold growing inside, which can produce the smell of cat urine. Other factors could include smell from spoilt food or stray cats peeing in your home. The smell can also emerge from leaking sewage, plants, or leaking coolant inside the house.

Take Away

Smelly shoes can be frustrating when you are on the go or heading to attend a special event. And almost all of us have faced it at least once every month.

However, the smell of cat urine in your shoes sometimes tells about the problems with your shoe, your health, or your naughty cat. No matter what it says, there are ways to resolve those issues.

We hope that this article has helped you find a way about why do shoes smell like cat pee and how to get rid of the pungent, stinky smell.

Leave a Comment