Health Hazards of Cat Urine

Written by heather meehan
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Health Hazards of Cat Urine
Cat urine contains ammonia, which is noxious to humans. (Black Cat image by Chris Kincaid from Fotolia.com)

Owning a pet entails a lot more than simply providing a safe home and quality food for a beloved animal friend. Pets can be messy and their waste can have a detrimental effect on the lives of humans. Cats in particular can cause a quantifiable amount of damage by simply not urinating in their designated litter boxes. Some cats urinate all over the house, which can adversely affect the air quality in the home. Cat urine contains various bacteria and is largely composed of ammonia, which is a noxious substance to human beings.

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Fainting, Vomiting & Dizziness

The initial human response to exposure to cat urine is light-headedness, which is due to the presence of ammonia. In cases in which the level of ammonia concentration is higher, the dizziness is often a precursor to vomiting or even fainting. While cat urine has low levels of ammonia, repeated urination by cats on carpeting, wood furniture, or panelling can create enormously high levels of ammonia in the air inside the home. Without proper cleaning with an enzyme-rich cleaner, the cat urine can never really be removed as it contains a sticky substance that latches onto surfaces.

Eye and Skin Irritation

Both the eyes and the skin can become extremely irritated from the ammonia-heavy air in the home. Eyes can become dry, itchy, watery and prone to infection. Prolonged exposure to ammonia can also result in irreversible eye damage or even blindness. Skin that comes in contact with urine-saturated objects, such as porous tiling or unvarnished wooden floorboards, can break out in a rash that resembles a burn. Left untreated, the rash can progress into painful skin lesions that can become infected.

Respiratory Hazards

The most dangerous effects of cat urine on humans occur when it is inhaled. The ammonia vapours can have a catastrophic effect on the respiratory system, especially over a prolonged period of time. Some of the adverse reactions include coughing, increased phlegm, respiratory infections, damage to the trachea that can result in alveolar oedema and bronchitis. Ammonia irritates the lungs and can make breathing extremely difficult. Without proper medical attention, the lungs can become infected or damaged beyond repair. Inhaling ammonia consistently can even cause deadly asphyxiation.

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