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What are the effects of breathing cat urine from 6 cats for over a year

  1. #1

    What are the effects of breathing cat urine from 6 cats for over a year

    What are the health effects of breathing cat urine odor 24 hours a day for over a year? There are a total of 6 cats, 4 are kept in an enclosed sun room connected to one side of the entire house with windows between the house and sun room, the waste was rarely if ever cleaned out for over a year. NONE of the 6 cats are fixed so they 'spray' constantly. Standing outdoors near the the room the odor is very strong, just as strong as it is inside the house. The other 2 cats live inside the living quarters of the house. They have a litter box, but it is cleaned so seldom that the cats will urinate outside the litter box all over the floor near the box after two or three days of it not being cleaned. At best the clumps and feces are removed once, maybe twice a week. Their son decided to move out of state and 5 of the six cats are his and were dropped off on his way out of town and just left there over a year ago.

    The odor outdoors is strong enough that it can usually be smelled from outside the house next door even though the room is completely on the other side of the house. I can not stand to smell the odor outside of the room, and inside the room it is unbearable to me.

    Are there any health dangers for the two adults and two children living in the house? The reason for asking is that
    I am concerned about the possible long term possible health effects on the two children. Plus, beginning three months after the cats arrived the female adult began having breathing problems. They have gotten steadily & progresssively worse over the last year and now she can barely breathe or walk. Before the cats arrived she had no breathing problems. I am wondering if the cat urine could be the cause of her breathing problems.

    Does anyone know anything about this issue or know of a good source of information?

  2. #2
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    I've watched cat hoarder shows on TV, and heard there can be both short and long-term effects on inhaling the urine, since it is pretty much composed of ammonia. Some long-term illnesses can be dizziness, respiratory infections, bronchitis, trouble breathing and asthma. It might also do some damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes.

    Ammonia is also a carcinogen, and this short article says it may even cause cancer...http://www.ehow.com/list_6562681_har...cat-urine.html. Since the ammonia is so concentrated in severe situations, one must never clean the areas up with bleach, as the mixture of the two will create toxic fumes. Using white vinegar is preferred for safety.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanual Kant~



  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha1 View Post
    I've watched cat hoarder shows on TV, and heard there can be both short and long-term effects on inhaling the urine, since it is pretty much composed of ammonia. Some long-term illnesses can be dizziness, respiratory infections, bronchitis, trouble breathing and asthma. It might also do some damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes.

    Ammonia is also a carcinogen, and this short article says it may even cause cancer...http://www.ehow.com/list_6562681_har...cat-urine.html. Since the ammonia is so concentrated in severe situations, one must never clean the areas up with bleach, as the mixture of the two will create toxic fumes. Using white vinegar is preferred for safety.

    Thank you, my first reaction would have been to use bleach to disinfect! When I read what you wrote a light turned on!!

  4. #4
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    I only have one cat, and I change out the entire litter box every 7-10 days, usually once a week. On top of that, I remove any solid waste daily, as soon as I can to keep the litter box clean. It's a covered box, and from what I read about the urine smelling like ammonia being the cause of some cats refusing to use their litter box, I decided to definitely play it safe. My cat has always been reliable using the box. They said that the cat's nasal area will become uncomfortable from breathing it in...so I didn't want that to happen at all.

    It was horrible seeing some of the hoarders on TV. One woman was actually on oxygen in her house, and her daughter and family refused to go over there because of the odor. The cats will have to be fixed for sure, then complete cleaning in order to move forward. Mixing bleach and ammonia can be fatal, glad you won't be making that mistake. Here's some info from another post I wrote:

    A blacklight is a good way to identify the urine stains for cleaning. A cleaner that is recommended by cat behavioral specialists is http://www.amazon.com/Fizzion-Remove...upplies_text_y .
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanual Kant~



  5. #5
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    In a case like this, I think it might be best to call the Health Department. I am pretty sure that you are right about the urine being the cause of the woman's breathing issues, with that much ammonia being in the air constantly. Not cleaning the cat box will also have small particles of feces all over in the air, (yuck !) and who knows what other medical problems it could cause, and the children will be apt to suffer from it as well, if it not cleaned up. The adults can choose to live that way, but the children have no choice, and I think this is the point where someone official needs to step in and stop this situation.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Happyflowerlady View Post
    In a case like this, I think it might be best to call the Health Department. I am pretty sure that you are right about the urine being the cause of the woman's breathing issues, with that much ammonia being in the air constantly. Not cleaning the cat box will also have small particles of feces all over in the air, (yuck !) and who knows what other medical problems it could cause, and the children will be apt to suffer from it as well, if it not cleaned up. The adults can choose to live that way, but the children have no choice, and I think this is the point where someone official needs to step in and stop this situation.
    I agree, if there is a health risk that is what I plan to do, but these are my neighbors that I have known for years. Before I take a step that drastic I need to know that there is a verifiable health threat. That is why I posted here. I am hoping that someone can point me to an artcle that deals with the effect of cat urine on humans. I want the opportunity to show her the article and have the chance to properly clean up the situation before I destroy my relationship with my neighbor, calling the health department is a last resort step, a step that I hope I never have to take. I have searched the internet and everything is very vague. I am hoping to find something, anything that will point out the seriousness of the situation.

  7. #7
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    Here's an article that may help, with some links re: ammonia at the bottom.http://suite101.com/article/cat-urin...azards-a290682
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanual Kant~



  8. #8
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    These animals are being abused. Please report them to animal control.

  9. #9
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    OP.

    You are in a difficult territory here.

    The RSPCA and bodies like that have a lot of difficultly, and a very wide latitude, on proving animal abuse. If you report the neighbor for child abuse, which is what you are more or less proposing. Is that going to have a positive or negative long term effect on those kids if she loses custody? A lot of bad things happens to kids in care and in foster homes. Worse than breathing cat pee, to be honest.

    I do not know if you have a local TNR group (Trap Neuter Return) group, though these cats are not ferals. Or any sort of low cost neuter/spay program on offer. Can you get a vet or a pet rescue worker to talk to this woman, without threat? To try to get some sense through her head?

    Why is she not changing these boxes? Is she disabled? Can she not afford litter? Can someone help her with these issues?

    You want to talk about hoarding and animal abuse? 6 cats are NOTHING. At least she is not letting her un-neutered cats run all about having tons and tons and tons of kittens, and depositing them all over your neighborhood, you are lucky.

    People I know in Pet Rescue have dealt with the most horrible scenarios. Horses standing up to their knees in their own manure in tie stalls. Numerous dogs locked in sheds, with no food or water and eating the corpses of their fallen kin. On and on. And even in such extremes it is very hard to get any sort of real legal action taken against the owners of the pets or livestock. Sad but true.

    It sounds like you are correct that there is a hygiene problem going on next door to you. You are correct that neutering is not in place, when it needs to be. But are you going to do more harm than good, to this neighbor, her cats and her kids? Are the kids starving, are the cats starving? Can you not try to educate and assist her in a sympathetic manner?

Please reply to this thread with any new information or opinions.

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