Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush

Normally I don’t write diary-like of-the-moment entries but tonight I couldn’t help myself. I hope you will indulge me.

Not so long-ago in a failed attempt to meet single men, I took a wine-tasting course (refer to “Felines and Valentines“). Sauvignon Blanc we were taught, is often described as smelling like “cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush” – and this desirable, a sign of a good wine. I remember thinking how strange it was that as a cat owner of 5+ years I didn’t know what cat pee smelled like. I found the phrase interesting (why a gooseberry bush in particular?) and couldn’t wait until I found a way to use it in a post.

Madison Square Park (credit goes to

Fast forward to today.

It was a beautiful day in NYC with temperatures in the low 70s.  Leaving work I walked through Madison Square Park the Flatiron Building to my right and the Empire State to my left. I felt like a kid leaving school for the day – the night was young.  I had visions of dining al fresco but first had to go home to feed the kitties.

Let me back up a moment and fill you in on my foster situation. While picking up Haddie (foster) from Petco Sunday, the City Critter folks asked if I wouldn’t mind taking sweet 8 month old Karina home with me for three days. She’d been adopted but they still needed to conduct a home visit before she could be placed. Being the sucker I am I agreed without giving it a second thought.

Sweet Karina

Karina is a beautiful grey tabby who’s very affectionate, but I quickly learned upon bringing her home, a bit skittish around other cats (good thing she’s being adopted as a single!). She okay when I first brought her back to my place Sunday evening. But as of Monday morning she’d taken up residence under my bed.

So I got back to my apartment after work today and went to find Karina to make sure she was okay. As I walked up my stairs I noticed a strange scent…it got stronger as I entered my room. There on my down comforter was a pile of poop. But I knew that couldn’t be the source of  pungent aroma that filled the room (did I mention we got into the 70s today?).

Without thinking I ripped the comforter and sheets off the bed, dumped them into the tub and ran the water at full force adding Woolite for good measure. I then Googled where I learned I’d  done exactly what NOT to do in this situation. I’d successfully turned a small urine patch into an entire feather-filled comforter of eau d’urine.

The I HAVE CAT facebook fans were full of advice. Some said to dry clean but not only was i embarrassed to take a stinking pile of bedding to the dry cleaner, I didn’t like the thought of having it in my apartment all night, giving the other cats the chance to mark their territory.  Others suggested using rubbing alcohol, Nature’s Miracle or vinegar. One reader told me I needed to purchase washable bedding (I take offense to that. Why should I have to compromise? If I have children I’m sure as heck not going to cover my sofa in plastic!). While yet another reprimanded me for having a feather comforter in the first place (inhumane I guess?).

how to get rid of cat urine smell and stains

(Fur)mommy's little helpers

I doused everything   with Nature’s Miracle which I randomly had on-hand and an entire bottle of vinegar I had just purchased for cleaning the coffee pot/maker.

More pressing, I needed quarters. I hated the idea of going to a bodega (that’s a deli for y’all not in NYC) and buying a soda only to ask for 5 dollars in quarters. Well they say necessity is the mother of invention.  I guess something kicked in because without thinkingI flagged down a taxi driver and he gladly exchanged his quarters for my dollars. Then I schelpped a soggy IKEA bag full of laundry next door to the washer dryer in the basement.

Oh, did I mention my comforter is dryclean only? Small hick-up. Everything I read online said to dry the comforter with clean tennis shoes (who has those?). A few facebook fans suggested tennis balls as a substitute. I also recalled my mom having used some downey softener “balls” in the dryer when I was home for Easter. I set out to find one of the two at 8pm on a Tuesday evening. No dice. The closest thing I found after visiting 2 drugstores and a grocery store was a miniature basketball.

Haddie ensures basketball adheres to league specifications

I gave it a try, but the ball was too large and heavy and kept knocking the dryer door open. I guess Haddie has a new toy.

With the comforter in the dryer, I stopped by the local wine store to treat myself. The proprietor (thankfully he isn’t Italian or Middle Eastern or I’m sure I would be quizzed as to I’m in there so often alone), began to tell me the store cat Jack was having difficulty urinating (the irony). I was fearful to ask if he’d taken him to the vet as so many NYC establishments have cats as employees (mousers) rather than as pets. Thankfully he had and Jack was on a daily regime of medicines.

Jack the neighborhood wine store cat

Jack and his wine

I went to pet Jack who suddenly became veeeery interesting in my hand. Just then I remembered that I probably reeked of cat pee myself, having been handing all that laundry. I made a hasty retreat not wanting to stick around to see how Jack would react.

So here I am, at 10:13pm on a Tuesday evening, enjoying my Prosecco waiting for the dry cycle to end, hoping I don’t have to purchase a brand new comforter.  The exciting life of a singleton living in the city – with cat (s).

Well, at least now I know what a  good Sauvignon Blanc smells like.

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  • well the cat pee in my house doesn’t smell llike any wine I have ever been near. gag! My Bengal boy is going through a bad peeing phase. It starts up when the neighborhood cats come to the windows at night and then my daugher came over with her crazy aby cat and Mazi peed all over the couch. I did some spot cleaning so it doesn’t smell to my inferior human nose, but he keeps trying to go sniff and add to it. This weekend I am going to clean it with the uphostery cleaner on my rug cleaner. Sounds like fun?
    I read somewhere where the magic number is 4, once you get more than 4 cats, the peeing begins. I have 4 cats and the visitors turn on the pee. My Bengal girl loves to pee on the bed. I don’t have feathers because of my allergy, but washing washable bedding because of cat pee is just a huge pain. Love my cats, just wish they came with a plug on that thing.

    • Ihavecat

      Oh my! You have quite a lot to deal with. well in my case it seems that more than 3 is the “tipping point”!
      Seriously cats have an insane sense of smell! I’ll let you know when i get home how the Nature’s Miracle and vinegar worked!

  • That’s really learning the hard way. I hope your comforter survives its adventures.

    • Ihavecat

      Yes it is, but I guess I learned something?! I’ll make sure to update everyone on the outcome! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Karen Jo! Let us know when the syringe makes it to Herman!

  • I am very familiar with having to clean up after cats. You have my sympathy. I also have a lot of very nice bedding I refuse to live without. Personally, I think an enzyme cleaner is an essential item to have on paw all the time. Oh, and ….. kitteh bath wipes. We sometimes have tummy troubles here and need them.

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks for supporting having both cats and nice bedding!
      Oh my, tummy troubles…we haven’t gotten there yet….perhaps another blog post will be in order if that should occur….!

  • perri

    Hi, good luck with the foster, and thank you for taking the time to help!

    Good luck with the comforter. I’ve had great results washing them in COLD water with tide detergent and oxiclean (stain removing powder). Depending on the size of the comforter and washer, a second wash may be a good idea. The tennis balls (or dryer balls) are a good idea in the dryer, esp. with a comforter. 🙂

    • Ihavecat

      Perri of COURSE i washed mine in HOT water! LOL seems to have done OK, but will find if the smell is truly gone when i get home!

      Thanks re: foster. Turns out the poor thing had been living in a BASEMENT for 2 months (just found out today) so no wonder she was freaked with my apartment and the cats. She’s a sweet pea and very affectionate. so i’m hoping she does OK as an only. Less stressful perhaps!

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Hope you sign up for I HAVE CAT email updates if you aren’t already receiving them.


  • jmuhj

    Yep! Been there, done that — uncountable times! Nature’s Miracle is our weapon of choice, too, but the formula made “JUST FOR CATS” is the one to get!

    As for alcohol, we don’t know from that.

    • Ihavecat

      They do keep us on our toes eh? Just like children – you can’t get mad at them, they don’t know any better.

  • Oh T… I’ll never look at (or take a whiff of) a glass of Sav Blanc the same again!!! We’ve also got a beautiful park here in northern Minnesota called Gooseberry Falls. I’m afraid that place has been officially tainted as well. ; ) (!)

    Ironically I just got back from the dry cleaners after dropping off our feather comforter, duvet cover and shams. Fortunately this was a proactive or planned trip. but I sure hope it’s not like washing your car. You know… you wash your car and the next day it rains.


    • Ihavecat

      LOL you slay me! Your comments are always so pithy! sorry about the park 🙂
      I truly hope Katie doesn’t decide to pee on your comforter!

  • Great story. Well, not great that your comforter got peed on. Been there, done that. Please let us know how the comforter came out of the dryer – inquiring cat parents want to know!

    • Ihavecat

      I know what you mean ingrid – i will be sure to keep ypu apprised of where i net-out on the comforter!

      thanks for visiting and taking the time to post a comment! means a lot!

  • Yikes! Well, some do say that the best way to learn is through experience. Good luck with the comforter … hope it survives this ordeal.

    • Ihavecat

      it seems to have come out okay. of course SOMEHOW, mysteriously , even though my room door was shut tight when i left for work yesterday (and still closed when i got back) i came home to peed on sheets???!!! no idea what’s going on in my house! how’d they get in? i would have noticed if there was pee on my sheets when i woke up!

  • Maria

    I have more than 4 and they were all rescues and have never had a problem. I let a friend’s mom keep her cat at my house for a month and she decided to pee on my new king size comforter. My cats were very good and did not follow her (thankful for that:-) I am truly blessed with my babies being so good and always making it to their litter boxes. So how did the comforter come out?

    • Ihavecat

      I’m telling you i have been blessed too. Petie went through a phase but i took him to the vet asap and it was a UTI! So this took me by surprise. Now i’m wondering if it’s Petie again and I was falsely accussing the foster…guess I will know when i come home from work tonight! i fear what i will find!

  • JC

    Get a feliway plugin … costs a bit but works for me.
    Don’t know what to tell you about the blanket .. I use the miracle stuff but my blankets are all machine washable.

    • Ihavecat

      interesting…what’s a feliway plugin? it repeals the cats? i’m lucky as my cats don’t normally pee. seriously it’s a foreign thing. so now i have to make sure it was the foster (who is now in her forever home) and not one of my cats, or there will be a vet visit and potential UTI on my hands!

  • my mommeh says this reminds her of a much longer, much worser story from when she first gotted me…. she says she feels your pains.

    • Ihavecat

      oh my! maybe your mama wants to share it with me? She can email me at ihavecat (at) gmail (dot) com.

  • Thank you for mentioning my post on your facebook fan page! What a cool honor! I wanted to take a look, but I do not have facebook or twitter or anything like that so I could not see it. I keep trying to talk my mommeh into at least a MySpace or something, but she says it is enough work just helping me manage my bloggie.

    • Ihavecat

      You SHOULD be able to just google I HAVE CAT facebook. see if you can use this link.

      I will take a screen grab of the comments if you want and send to you. Where should I email it?

      My fans think you should have your own cooking show!

  • When all fails: wash it with gooseberries and sell it on e-bay to a winelover as sauvignon blanc scented.

    • Ihavecat

      BRILLIANT idea! LOVE IT! The perfect present for the wine lover right? 🙂

  • The comment above from Cats in trees is very funny!

    There is a neighborhood tom cat who regularly marks our back door as his territory, so we are quite familiar with the scent of cat pee. All we have to say is that gooseberry bushes must smell really, really, REALLY good to make that scent a desirable quality in the bouquet of a wine

    • Ihavecat

      OMG Grreta that’s hysterical. Good point about the Gooseberry bush having to smell awesome! LOL

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  • I tried the Cat’s Pee on Gooseberries and just thought I’d chime in here. It is on the menu at the 8th st wine bar. Wonderful little place on 8th between 5-6. Tasty appetizers and lots of vino. I personally don’t see the cat pee similarity. As a cat owner my whole life I KNOW THIS SMELL.
    In my opinion the wine was nice, a bit sweet for my taste but a good bottle if you like sweet/fruity.
    And the evil grin on the label alone is worth it!

  • dry cleaners come in handy specially if you need your precious clothes to get cleaned very fast ‘”‘