Juniper smells like cat pee

5 Cat Urine Odor Removal Tips

By Jennifer Sellers, Petfinder contributor

There’s an unwanted guest in your home. It welcomes you each time you enter a room; it even greets your guests. No, it’s not your beloved kitty; it’s the odor of her urine. You’re not stuck with this uninvited presence, though. There a number of ways you can kick it to the curb.


1. Remove as much urine as possible. The less urine there is, the less you’ll have to deep clean. So when you notice that your cat has urinated somewhere outside of her litter box, clean up as much of it as you can as soon as you can. If the puddle was made on carpet or furniture, The Humane Society of the United States recommends blotting the area with an absorbent paper towel. This won’t get up all of the urine, but it will leave less of it behind for you to have to treat later.

If your cat has urinated on linens, clothing or drapes, wash them or have them dry-cleaned as soon as possible. The longer urine stays on fabric, the more stubborn its odor becomes. Detergents with baking soda or enzymatic additives are best for cleaning items that have urine odor.

If the urine is on a wall or other hard surface, wipe it down with a wet rag.

2. Break down the stain and smell with an enzymatic cleaner. “Enzymatic cleaners release cultures that literally eat the urine, leaving things sanitary and smell free once dry,” notes Many non-protein-based carpet and fabric deodorizers alone won’t be able to handle the strong, pervasive odor of cat urine. Cats have a stronger sense of smell than people, so even if you can’t smell leftover urine, your cat might – making it more likely that she’ll soil the area again.

A spray made with enzymes that target pet urine can help break down the urine and make it less likely that your cat will return. There are a number of these products in pet stores and home improvement stores. Just be sure to use it as instructed. (The potency of many enzymatic cleaners can be weakened by contact with other cleaning chemicals.)

3. Clean the area with an extracting wet vac but avoid steam cleaners. Extracting carpet cleaners expel clean water onto carpet or fabric then suck dirty water back into the tank. This can be a great way to rinse the area, especially if you’re dealing with carpeting. It’s important to follow the directions carefully. The HSUS recommends using cool, clean water in the wet vac.

You should also avoid using steam cleaners. Intense heat can actually cause odors to set into the fibers of carpet and upholstery more stubbornly.

4. Follow-up with a baking soda-based air freshener. Sodium bicarbonate, the substance baking soda is comprised of, is great at absorbing odors. One way to put it to use against urine odor is to sprinkle it on the carpet or furniture after you’ve cleaned your cat’s urine and the area has thoroughly dried. After sprinkling, let it sit for an hour or longer, then vacuum it up. You can also try this carpet-fresher recipe by

  • 1 cup crushed, dried herbs (rosemary, southernwood, lavender, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Sprinkle the mixture on your carpet, let it sit for 10-20 minutes, then vacuum. You can store any extra in an airtight container.

5. Find ways to prevent future accidents. The more urine your cat adds to your home, the harder it’s going to keep the odor at bay. So the best way to fight this stench is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This may include any number of methods:

  • Retraining your cat to use her litter box
  • Laying down disposable, absorbent pads (like puppy training pads) in an area she continues to mark
  • Having her spayed (or neutered, if a male cat)
  • Taking her to the vet for a check-up to see if she has any kidney or bladder problems
  • Treating her for anxiety, if that’s determined to be the cause of her urinating outside of her litter box
  • Cleaning out her litter box more often
  • Adding extra litter boxes if there is more than one cat in the household

Companionship with a cat can be rewarding — so can keeping a home. Don’t let urine odor ruin either experience.

Additional Sources for Reference

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It’s bad enough that your cat left you a little accident that you have to clean up. But even worse? A cat pee smell that sticks around even after the mess is gone. The odor can linger if the urine was sitting there for a while before you got a chance to blot it up and disinfect—and the accidents can be annoyingly easy to miss, says Jennifer Gregory, brand manager of Molly Maid. “It can be difficult to spot cat urine on carpet unless you smell it, witness it, or step in it while wet,” she says. By that time it could be too late, and the odor has already taken root.

If your cat’s spraying is becoming a trend, schedule a visit with the vet to rule out any health problems that are keeping your kitty from making it to the litter box, and watch for these 13 other signs your “healthy” cat is actually sick. In the meantime, use these expert-approved tricks for getting rid of cat pee smell from the house.

How to get rid of cat pee smell from carpet

As with pretty much any stain, no matter what the material, the key is to act fast. “If you can blot up as much of the pee from the spot as possible, you are halfway there,” says Gregory.

Next, apply a bacteria- or enzyme-based cleaner like this one to the area, suggests Merry Maids cleaning expert Debra Johnson. The good bacteria and enzymes help break down the smelly bacteria that are leaving an odor. Johnson recommends pressing the cleaner in with plastic so it can penetrate more deeply, then leaving the plastic over the stain while the product works its magic. If needed, follow up the cleaner a cup of vinegar mixed into a gallon of water, then apply more of the pro-bacteria product.

How to get rid of cat pee smell from furniture

Cat urine can smell like ammonia, so ammonia-based cleaners are a no-no for cat pee stains, says Gregory. “If they smell a spot with pee, they will keep peeing there,” she says. “They will see this as a signal that is the place to go back to.” But vinegar has the opposite effect, telling your cat to keep out. Wet the urine stain with a vinegar solution, and as the vinegar evaporates, it’ll take the cat pee smell with it. For other messes around the house, use these 17 tricks for hard-to-clean household objects.

How to get rid of cat pee smell from hard surfaces

After blotting away any urine, mix a tablespoon of dish soap into two cups of cool water, suggests Johnson. Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down the soiled area with the solution, then use a clean cloth to dry the spot. If any odor lingers, sprinkle baking soda on the stinky spot and leave it for at least half an hour. “Baking soda neutralizes odors instead of just masking them,” says Johnson. Once the baking soda has had time to get rid the space of the cat pee smell, vacuum it up. Just make sure you close off the room to your cat and other pets while the baking soda is still lying around—while it’s not harmful in small amounts, it could be toxic if your furry friend ingests a lot of it.

How to get rid of cat pee smell from clothes

Rinse out the stain with cool water before tossing a cat pee-stained article of clothing into the wash. If the urine smell sticks around, try rewashing with a cup of baking soda or a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar—or better yet, an enzyme-based cleaner, suggests PetMD. Let it air-dry, because the heat from the dryer could make the smell worse if the wash cycle didn’t get rid of it completely. While you’re addressing your cat’s pee problem, watch out for these other 14 cat health symptoms you should never ignore.

The first step in planning a good landscape is to decide what shape and size plant will work best for each location. Foundation beds around your house require many shapes and sizes of plants, because there are windowsills, narrow beds along walks and other special situations.

Traditional landscapers and home builders planted Taxus yews and other evergreen shrubs, depending on homeowners to constantly shear and clip the plants to contain them. Most Taxus and junipers grow much too large if left un-sheared. They will eventually outgrow foundation beds and need to be removed. Still, most homeowners prefer evergreens around the house to mask unsightly foundation block and provide a backdrop for flowering plants.

The best solution is to choose evergreens based on their final size. Narrow beds between the house and sidewalk require compact shrubs. Windowsills dictate shrubs that don’t grow too tall. House corners need upright growers that get taller, softening the corners and filling in blank spaces between windows. Rather than controlling the size and shape of shrubs by shearing, you can select plants that grow to approximately the proportions you need. This makes maintenance a breeze.

Our favorite foundation shrub by far is the boxwood. An occasional shearing for shape is all that’s needed to keep these plants looking tidy and neat, and if you choose the right ones, they’ll never outgrow the space. You can plant them close together so they’ll join in an informal hedge, or further apart so there is space between them.

Modern hybrid boxwoods are extremely hardy and free of natural pests. The best varieties stay glossy green all year round, thrive in full sun or part shade, tolerate drought and grow very evenly into a nice mounding shape. Deer won’t touch them. Their dark color flatters flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals like the neutral background of floral pattern wallpaper.

Each boxwood variety has a certain size and shape it likes to grow to, and then stop growing. “Green Velvet” and “Green Gem” form compact, almost round mounds perfect for narrow beds and under windows. “Green Mountain” forms an upright oval or pyramid three feet wide and five feet high. “Faulkner” makes an oval three feet wide and only four feet high. “Chicagoland Green,” “Winter Gem” and “Green Beauty” all form bigger plants, easily shaped into mounds four to five feet tall and wide.

For truly miniature hedges, borders or topiary, “Dwarf English” Boxwood (Buxus suffruticosa) is best. Suffruticosa boxwoods do have the distinctive “cat pee” smell that has given boxwoods a bad name, so we prefer the newer cultivars unless a true miniature is called for.

Boxwoods aren’t very picky about soil and growing conditions, but well-drained soils are best. Mix peat moss and Holly-Tone fertilizer into the planting soil, and mulch to keep the soil moist. Water regularly until the plants are well rooted. Once established, Boxwoods are extremely drought tolerant. They are not disease-prone and don’t attract insect pests.

We’ve yet to find a more cooperative compact shrub for almost any style of landscaping. If you’re just pulling out some overgrown, out-of-control Taxus, or starting from scratch with nothing, Boxwoods are a great place to start. Just figure out the shapes and sizes that will flatter your house best, and pick the boxwood that naturally grows just that way.

Steve Boehme

Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers.” He can be reached at 937-587-7021 or [email protected]


Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers.” He can be reached at 937-587-7021 or [email protected]

8 of Nature’s Smelliest Plants

Nature is filled with stinky plants, but the ones below produce aromas comparable to some of the grossest odors known to humankind—think poop, cat pee, or even worse.


Jean-Pol GRANDMONT viaWikipedia// CC BY 3.0

There’s a reason why the ginkgo tree has survived on Earth for at least 200 million years: The living fossil is durable, low maintenance, and resistant to diseases and pests. These qualities make it an ideal tree to plant in cities. However, planting ginkgos can be a crap shoot, as young male trees and female trees—which eventually produce seeds—look identical.

However, they’re decidedly not the same. The mature female ginkgos possess a less-than-ideal feature: When they shed their fruit each fall, the fruit rot and release a foul smell that’s often likened to vomit. The fruit contain butyric acid, which also can be found in both barf and rancid butter; scientists think that long ago, this scent may have compelled dinosaurs to eat and digest the fruit, thus spreading the seeds far and wide. Adding injury to olfactory insult, ginkgo seeds’ flesh contains a chemical similar to the one found in poison ivy, meaning it can cause rashes.


Visit the central and southwest U.S., and you may encounter the Missouri gourd, a.k.a. buffalo gourd—a vine-y plant that sprouts tiny gourds that deepen from yellow-green to yellow-brown when they mature.

Judging from its Latin name (Cucurbita foetidissima, the latter part meaning “very fetid”) and its nicknames (which include “fetid gourd” and “stinky gourd”), you can probably assume that the Missouri gourd doesn’t smell great. In fact, its leaves and fruit are said to smell like a ripe armpit, and one can pick up the noxious scent simply by brushing against a leaf.

For the most part, people steer clear of the Missouri gourd. However, the Apache used its roots and crushed leaves, stems, and fruits for medicinal purposes, and its saponin—which produces suds—for soap and shampoo.


Wikipedia//Public Domain

According to the late naturalist Neltje Blanchan, skunk cabbage, which grows in marshy, wooded areas, swamps, and along streams throughout North America, smells like “skunk, putrid meat, and garlic.” Not surprisingly, the skunk cabbage’s Latin name, Symplocarpus foetidus, means “to stink.”

Skunk cabbage owes its odor to skatole, a crystalline organic compound that occurs naturally in feces, and cadaverine, an organic compound that’s produced when amino acids decompose in rotting animals. The plant’s unsavory aroma attracts insects for pollination purposes, and makes it unappealing to grazing animals.


Hydnora africana (also known as jackal food or jakkalskos) is native to southern Africa, and sprouts on the roots of other plants. It’s a round, parasitic flower with narrowly-spaced, threadlike structures between its sepals To attract dung beetles, which pollinate the flower, jackal food emits the smell of feces. The beetles crawl into the flower, and the sepal’s threads prevent the insects from leaving easily, forcing them to stick around long enough to finish the job.


Bruce Marlin, Wikipedia // CC BY 3.0

A common tree throughout North America is the Callery pear (also called Bradford pear), a tree that’s native to China and Vietnam. The Callery pear was once prized for its hardiness, ability to thrive in disparate soil and climate conditions, and beautiful white blossoms, which are among the first to bloom in springtime. Now it’s notorious for the scent of its flowers, often likened to dead fish. Plus, thanks to its capacity to grow in any environment, the tree is swiftly becoming an invasive pest that crowds out native species.


If you’ve ever caught a whiff of cat pee while strolling through a formal garden, chances are a feline wasn’t responsible. You likely smelled the common boxwood, or Buxus sempervirens—a leafy green landscape shrub that’s often planted into hedges or trimmed into topiaries. Their leaves contain an oil that, when heated by the sun, smells akin to your kitty’s urine.


The mother of all meat-scented flowers is the massive titan arum—more commonly known as the corpse flower—which is native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. Titan arum takes years to bloom, and when it finally does unfurl, it stays open for only a short period of time. Be glad the bloom doesn’t last longer, as the blossom emits the stench of rotting flesh to attract pollinating flies and carrion beetles. Experts don’t quite know what chemicals are responsible for titan arum’s stink, but they have identified the main odorants: the molecules putrescine and cadaverine.


Wikipedia// CC BY-SA 2.5

A Pennsylvania gardener introduced the Tree of Heaven to American soil during the mid-18th century, and Chinese miners and railroad workers brought it with them from Asia to America when they immigrated during the Gold Rush years .

The hardy deciduous tree is tolerant to air pollution and able to thrive in harsh environments, so you’ll find it growing everywhere from urban areas to rocky areas to roadsides. However, thanks to the Tree of Heaven’s capacity to rapidly grow and spread—along with a toxin in its leaves and bark that stunts the growth of the plants around it—it’s become known as a hated invasive species that crowds out native plants. Even worse? Male trees sprout blossoms each spring that are said to smell like semen.

Plants That Smell Like Cat Urine

garden image by Horticulture from

Landscaping your yard is an effective way to improve your home’s curb appeal and provide a backdrop for family gatherings. The last thing you want while entertaining is to have the smell of cat urine wafting in the air. Beware before you buy —talk to your local nursery to find out if there are any plants of which you should be aware. This is particularly important if you are sensitive to odors since there are several plants which smell very similar to cat urine.


yotrak/iStock/Getty Images

Boxwood is commonly used in landscaping and has a very distinctive odor, similar to cat urine. Boxwood has been used in landscaping since colonial times and can be found in all types of landscaping — ranging from colonial to modern. It is a versatile shrub that can be used to define areas, create a natural screen and grow as topiary shrubs. Boxwoods come in approximately 30 different species. The two most widely used boxwood species are buxus sempervirens (American boxwood) and buxus microphylla (Japanese boxwood). American boxwood reaches heights of 5 to 10 feet and is generally cold-weather tolerant. Japanese Boxwood is a low-growing shrub that rarely exceeds 3 feet in height.


monica-photo/iStock/Getty Images

Valerian is an odiferous herb that grows in grassland areas and may be used as a landscaping plant in a garden setting. Stems are straight and hollow with deep green leaves. Valerian blooms with small, pink or light purple flowers between June and September; flowers may have a sweet fragrance. However, the rest of the valerian plant (leaves, stem and roots) produces a smell that can be rather repelling to the human nose and which may resemble that of cat urine. The herb is frequently used in alternative medicine. Taken as a supplement, valerian has soothing properties which can alleviate sleeplessness associated with insomnia and calm anxiety.

Viburnum tinus

Pali137/iStock/Getty Images

Viburnum tinus, or Laurustinus viburnum, is an evergreen shrub that grows to heights of 6 to 12 feet and widths between 6 and 10 feet. It is frequently used in landscaping due to its lustrous green foliage and eye-catching white flowers that begin blooming in late winter. Viburnum is relatively easy to grow since it does well in alkaline or acidic soils and flourishes in a sunny location. While viburnum adds evergreen color to the landscape and is well suited to many growing conditions, the plants will emit a strong odor on rainy days — the smell may be reminiscent of cat urine to some.

NC town stinks so badly of ‘cat pee,’ that there’s an official state memo about it | Charlotte Observer

Complaints have circulated for years that Wilmington smells a lot like cat urine, and the state of North Carolina is finally ready to confirm it’s not imaginary. LegacyData2017

Complaints have circulated for years that Wilmington smells a lot like cat urine, and the state of North Carolina is finally ready to confirm it’s not imaginary.

The N.C. Division of Air Quality has received “several complaints about a cat urine-like odor” around Wilmington and it is investigating the cause…or causes.

Brad Newland, a supervisor with the N.C. Division of Air Quality, issued a memo on Dec. 5 admitting even he has detected a “faint cat odor” in downtown Wilmington.

Why does Wilmington smell like a garbage can

— Brandon Lee (@brandontylerlee) December 10, 2017

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“I know that the catty odors have impacted downtown from time to time, and in my personal experience, the odor seems to vary,” he told the Wilmington Star-News. “Sometimes it smells like pure cat urine to me, and sometimes it smells similar but different.”

State officials thought they found the source a few weeks ago, but not anymore: “Initially, Fortron Industries was the sole suspect of the odors as its emissions are associated with the ‘male cat pee’ odor. However, based on observations made in the community and inquiries with several industries, it is now believed that the odors could have come from a combination of sources.”

In other words, they’re stumped.

One thing they do believe, however, is that cold air can make matters worst, because the colder, more dense air traps odors and pollution near the ground.

Complaints about the smell have appeared on social media for years, including a lot of guessing as to the origin. Some say it’s illegal manufacturing done under the cover of darkness while others swear it’s because of naturally occurring swamp gas and/or decaying vegetation.

why does wilmington smell like cat piss anytime its mildly damp outside

— e n (@ian_schulte) November 10, 2017

“I do not know the origin, but have smelled the same odor myself for many years,” said an email from Woody White, chair of the New Hanover County Commissioners.

“You can smell it in Wrightsboro,” posted Laurene Rapoza on Facebook. “It gets so bad that I have to turn my heat/AC off so my entire house doesn’t smell like cat urine. It’s horrible!”

“My family smelled the ammonia smell passing by in a vehicle on Thanksgiving,” wrote Kimberly Surles Strickland on Facebook. “It felt like my sinuses were on fire, just awful!”

Why does Wilmington smell so awful today?

— SuperDuperMyles (@DavinchNation) November 9, 2017

Sue Newell Almeter of Leland said in a Facebook post that she has smelled it since the late 1980s and believes it doesn’t come from a single source. “The pungent odor is a concoction that can include swamp gas and fumes from a number of industrial plants along the Cape Fear River,” she wrote.

Steve Curre of Kure Beach launched a Facebook campaign last month to push state officials into an investigation. It’s not known whether that prompted the Division of Air Quality to take action, however.

“If you live near downtown Wilmington, you probably woke up to the chemical smell that smells similar to cat urine this Saturday morning,” he posted on Facebook. “As a New Hanover County citizen, I want to know what this chemical smell is, where it is coming from, and whether there are any potential health effects.”

State officials are continuing their investigation and are asking citizens with odor complaints to call 910 796-7215 and ask for Air Quality. So far, said Newland, nothing has been found to indicate the smell is a health risk.

Why does the city of Wilmington smell like wet dog?

— Domenic D'Angelo (@Domenic_26) October 5, 2017

Can someone explain to me why large swatches of Wilmington smell like cat urine?

— chrimuh jush (@Mr_Cleb) February 26, 2017

Why does Wilmington smell so nasty today

— theresa (@troseverry) November 1, 2017

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs

Why Do Some Trees & Bushes Smell Like Cat Urine?

Image by, courtesy of Amanda

One of the problems homeowners face is how to protect their landscaping from marauding neighborhood animals looking for a restroom. However, this is not necessarily the reason that some trees and bushes produce an odor reminiscent of cat urine. Whatever the reason may be that your yard gives off an unpleasant smell, you can take certain steps to reduce or eliminate the odor.


Image by, courtesy of Alessandro Valli

Black pepper and/or pine cones are excellent deterrents to feline prowlers. Use vinegar to remove any lingering odor.


Image by, courtesy of Diana House

If you have recently placed mulch in your landscaping or garden, this could be the culprit. The moisture in the mulch can begin to rot, giving off an ammonia-like odor. Try raking it to promote drying.


Image by, courtesy of Christian Guthier

Certain trees, such as white spruce and locust trees, are known to produce a cat urine type of odor.

Other Plants

Image by, courtesy of chelseagirl

Box elder, the herb Valerian, and certain types of viburnum and penstemon, are additional stinky vegetation culprits for which cats are erroneously blamed.

Advance planning

If you’re thinking of adding a few plants to your landscaping, you may want to ask someone at the plant nursery what to expect before you invest in what may turn out to be an obnoxiously noxious plant.

Branching out for Christmas

More Information

Fraser fir

Notable: The most popular Christmas tree today

Average needle length: 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches

Characteristics: Native to North Carolina. Has a reputation of retaining its needles the longest of any fir. Dark green with a silver cast to the underside of the needles, which helps distinguish it from a balsam fir. Branches aren’t as dense as a balsam.

Balsam fir

Notable: Known for its scent, which is why you’ll find a lot of balsam-scented candles around the holidays.

Average needle length: 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches

Characteristics: Grown commonly in Canada and Maine. A traditional tree in New England, and loved for its strong Christmas tree scent. Also holds needles well. Is green on both sides of the needles.

Concolor fir

Notable: Completely different look than the other firs. Most noted for producing a citrus (tangerine) scent if you break the needles. This has led some people to crush the needles and hide them around the base of the tree.

Average needle length: 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Characteristics: Native to the Pacific Northwest. Most of these trees have a striking blue cast. For fans of the old-fashioned Scotch pine, it has a similar long needle, but they’re much softer, so no injuries while hanging ornaments.

Douglas fir

Notable: Not actually a true fir. Can be difficult to grow, because of susceptibility to disease, so they might be hard to find at your local tree farm. Ellms says he gets a batch of them in from a friend who grows beautiful ones, just so he can offer them to his customers who prefer a Douglas.

Average needle length: 3/4 to 1 3/4 inches

Characteristics: Popular on the Pacific Coast and, oddly, in Pennsylvania, Ellms says. If the tree is diseased, it will drop needles faster. If not, it will last like most firs. Has little to no aroma. A nice green, though can occasionally be found in a blue-green tint.

White spruce

Notable: Stiff branches and needles, not as soft as a fir, but not as prickly as a blue spruce. And then there’s the scent.

Average needle length: 1/2 to 1 inch

Characteristics: Lighter green than most of the firs. Stiff branches are a good option for people decorating with heavy ornaments. And then there’s the aroma: “They do smell, but they smell terrible,” Ellms says. “As everyone says, they smell like cat urine, but that doesn’t slow people down.” Ellms notes that people won’t catch the smell as soon as they walk into the room, but it can be noticeable when you’re up close to the tree.

Blue spruce

Notable: If people know nothing about tree species when they visit a farm, this is the only one they can name. Known for its color, but it will stick you when you’re hanging the tinsel.

Average needle length: 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches

Characteristics: If you want to keep your dog, cat or kids away from your Christmas tree, this might be the choice. The needles are sharp, in contrast to other Christmas tree species. This is a good choice for people with heavy ornaments because the stiff branches will not bend to the weight. The tree’s blue cast also helps people overcome the ouch factor.

Korean fir

Notable: Have been more popular on the local scene in the last 10 years. Known for their dark green color.

Average needle length: 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches

Characteristics: Native to the Korean peninsula. Dark green color (with a silvery underside to the needles) is the real draw with this one, though the branches also lean toward being pretty dense, which may be appealing to some buyers.

Tips for keeping your Christmas tree healthy

Keep tree in a cool, shady place like the garage until ready to bring indoors.

Saw 1/4 inch off bottom of trunk prior to placing the tree in stand.

Make a cut perpendicular to the axis of the stem, not at angles or a V-cut.

Make sure to place tree in water-holding stand immediately after making cut.

Stand must be able to hold enough water for the size of the tree.

Use warm water for the first fill of the stand.

Remember, you wouldn’t bring home fresh-cut flowers and place them in a dry vase. The Christmas tree is still living, so maintain an adequate water level always. Check water level every day.

Check water levels twice per day in the first few days. A tree will absorb the most water after it is recently cut and placed in water.

Make sure tree is displayed away from heat sources. Always check electrical devices like lights and other decorations before placing on the tree.

Avoid spraying preservatives or fire-retardants on tree. Some of these products actually increase moisture loss. The most fire-retardant tree is one that is properly watered.

Source: Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York

How to choose your Christmas tree

Measure up

Don’t rely on your eye because everything looks smaller outdoors. “Every year we get calls from customers asking ‘have you got a saw?'” laughs John Brennan, owner of Irish Christmas Trees (

The average room has a ceiling height of 2.4m or 8ft so a 7 or 8ft tree is more than adequate unless you’re living in a Georgian or Victorian home. If you have to to prune, always cut from the bottom, as the ‘leader’ branch, at the top of the tree will look odd if it’s trimmed.

Which real tree?

There are two main types of ‘real’ Christmas tree: Noble Fir and Nordmann Fir. “The better of the two is the Nobel Fir,” explains John, who has been in the industry for over 50 years. It will hold its needles longer, has a lovely smell and is a beautiful blue/green colour.”

A good quality 7/8ft Noble Fir will set you back around €60. Nordmann firs don’t have the same smell and, in general, won’t last as long but are more common and can cost less since Noble firs are harder to grow. Both varieties are non-shed so shouldn’t be leaving a carpet of needles.

How to get the most out of your real tree

If the tree has any yellow or brown branches, it could be a sign of necrosis which means it’ll lose its needles faster. You want your tree to be as fresh as possible so get it cut to order or at least try and look for ones that are being stored outside and out of their packaging.

“The colour of the tree is important as it denotes the health of the tree,” explains Dermot Page, chair of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association. “Needles should be stiff and not floppy and branches should stand out from the tree.”

Just like with flowers, you can prolong the tree’s life-span by taking a bit off the bottom.

“Ask the seller to chop an inch off the trunk so that when you take it home, the water will be absorbed quickly,” adds Dermot.

“In the first week the tree will absorb much more water than during the following weeks but do keep an eye on the water level, remember to water it every day and keep it away from heat. Do this and your tree will last the whole Christmas period.”

Don’t think you can just chop down your own tree

If you want a real tree check out for retailers. Not only does illegal felling carry severe penalties, there’s also a good chance you’ll cut down the wrong thing.

“There’s always someone who thinks they can just hop a fence and ends up cutting down a Sitka Spruce, which isn’t like a traditional Christmas tree and has a very distinctive smell,” says John.

“They then spend the rest of Christmas wondering where the smell of cat pee is coming from.”

When should you fake fir?

If you want options outside the big two of Noble and Nordmann firs then artificial is a world of choice, from more exotic pines to feathers and tinsel.

“There are hundreds of styles,” says Marie Devitt a buyer for Newlands Home and Garden Centre (

“You can also get that perfect shape that you’re never going to get in nature

Additionally you can theme your Christmas greenery by buying tree, garlands and wreaths in matching styles. Most artificial trees are flame retardant and allergy free and you don’t need to worry about leaving the heat on.

“No bucket of water will save a tree if it’s beside a radiator or over underfloor heating,” says John.

“I like to promote Irish Christmas trees and 90pc of our trade is in real trees but there are situations where a real tree just isn’t suitable.”

Fake fir – the technical bit

Artificial trees can range in size from 2ft to 15ft and, up to 9ft, tend to go up in half-foot sizes, but where you need to pay attention is in girth and tip count.

“Our trees come from an American family company and come in small, medium and large,” explains Marie.

“But an American medium (54-58ins round) is more than large enough for the average Irish home.”

Slim or Pencil trees are best for for small-space living while foliage-free birch trees offer a contemporary, unobtrusive look.

Tip count is a bit like thread count, a higher number signifing better bushy density. Newlands’ most popular tree is a Douglas fir with a 1867 tip count, priced at €275. That might sound pricey – but a good fake will last 15 to 20 years, a fraction of the cost of buying real every year.

Fantastic plastic and hooks versus hinges

Artificial trees are made using two types of plastic: PVC and PE.

“The main difference in materials is in how the trees look,” explains Barry Doyle, co-owner of Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven in Co Carlow (

“PVC needles are attached to the fake tree branches using wires. PE fake trees are fabricated, so both the needles and the branches better resemble those of a real tree.”

Hinged branches are permanently attached and easier to fluff out. Hook-in branches tend to be cheaper but involve more work matching colour-coded, different-sized branches to joints in a central ‘trunk’ which doesn’t look as realistic.

Marie recommends fluffing out a hinged tree from the bottom up, to get the best effect. “It’s a bit like in a hairdressers when they pin your hair up on the top to dry underneath,” she explains.

“Bring out the bottom branches arranging them with two out and one up to give the fullest effect before releasing the next layer up.”

Pre-lit and accents

The fear with pre-lit trees in the past was that if one bulb went out then so did all the others.

“The way to avoid this is get a pre-lit tree with LED lights or one with burn-out protection,” says Barry.

LED lights don’t get hot so are less of a fire risk and also cut down on wires, adapters and tangled fairy light angst, they also use less energy and last longer.

Many trees now include ‘accents’ of fake snow, berries and cones. These trees don’t need as much decorating, but bear in mind you might not want to look at a dinstinctive tree every year.

Irish Independent

Doctors reveal what different illnesses SMELL like


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You Notice Cloudiness
Consider it a tip-off to the presence of bacteria that could indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). “The cloudiness comes from the excretion of bacteria and leukocytes, which are cells that fight infection,” says Phillips. Even if you otherwise feel fine and have no UTI symptoms, pay attention to this; it could be the only sign that an infection has taken hold.

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There’s a Pink or Reddish Color
Though red-purple hued veggies like beets and blackberries might be the culprit, the color can also indicate the presence of blood in your pee—not a good sign. That’s a symptom of a UTI, kidney stones, or in rare cases even bladder or kidney cancer, says Phillips.

It Smells Foul
Urine isn’t supposed to smell like roses, but if the stench is pretty foul (think: rotten fruit or the bottom of a pond), it’s your bladder’s alarming way of telling you there’s an infection, says Phillips. And like cloudy urine, it could be the only clue, so don’t blow it off.

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You Notice a Burning Sensation
Stinging or even pain while you pee can be caused by a UTI or an STD such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, says Phillips.

That Feeling That You’ve Gotta Go Just Won’t Go Away
This is a classic sign of a UTI, which causes the lining of your bladder and urethra to become inflamed and irritated, leaving you with the feeling of constantly having to urinate, says Phillips. It can also be a symptom of interstitial cystitis, a hard-to-diagnose condition that results in chronic bladder pressure or pain.

You’re Peeing Way More Than You Used To
You might be pregnant. Seriously, it’s an early sign triggered by hormonal changes that speed up blood flow from the kidneys, says Phillips. If you’re positively sure you’re not expecting and you also can’t blame it on an uptick in your consumption of alcohol or caffeinated drinks (caffeine and alcohol can make you pee more frequently), check in with your M.D. This could also signal diabetes or a tumor.

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One of those fascinating tidbits of historical “fact” that circulates perennially on the Internet holds that women in ancient Rome drank turpentine, a toxic solvent (better known as paint thinner) distilled from the resin of pine trees, to make their urine smell “like roses.”

Here’s an example from Facebook:

This specimen is from Twitter:

In Ancient Rome, women would drink turpentine to make their urine smell sweet like roses

— Facts Zone (@facts_zone) April 8, 2016

We also find the claim set forth in a 30 May 2013 article by natural health entrepreneur Joseph Mercola explaining what, according to him, the color and odor of one’s urine says about the state of one’s health:

If you’re a woman from ancient Rome and your urine smells like roses, you’ve probably been drinking turpentine. This is a high price to pay to woo your suitor with pleasant-smelling pee, as turpentine may kill you!

A version posted in article entitled “Bizarre Facts About … Pee!” on the web site in 2010 repeated the claim that it was a practice indulged in by women, but that its origin wasn’t necessarily so ancient:

Asparagus isn’t the only thing some people smell in urine. Drinking turpentine is said to make urine smell like a rose, so hundreds of years ago, women would drink turpentine so their piss would smell sweet.

Despite the fact that no one ever cites a source for it, the claim has a plausible enough ring. As most people are aware, the things we consume can directly affect the appearance and smell of our urine. Two of the most common examples, as noted by the Harvard Medical School web site, are beets and asparagus:

Beets, blackberries, and rhubarb can temporarily turn urine pink or red, which can be alarming, because it may be mistaken for blood. The pigment that gives beets their deep magenta color is stable only at certain levels of stomach acidity and is usually too faint to show up in most people’s urine. The phenomenon — dubbed “beeturia” — occurs in only about 10% to 14% of the population. Even if you’re in that select group, eating beets won’t always have a visible effect, because the acidity of your stomach (and therefore your urine) depends on when you ate and what else you ate. Rhubarb can also turn urine dark brown or tea-colored, as can fava beans and aloe. Carrots, carrot juice, and vitamin C can color urine orange, and B vitamins can turn it a fluorescent yellow-green.

Asparagus sometimes gives urine a greenish tinge and a distinctive smell, said to resemble rotting cabbage. The cause of this smell is a matter for speculation. Some blame it on the sulfur-containing fertilizers used on asparagus plants (there is no record of the vegetable causing urine odor before such fertilizers were introduced). Others suggest that only people who carry a particular gene break down the sulfur-containing proteins in asparagus and release the odor. Still another view is that the smell of everyone’s urine undergoes a change, but only some of us notice it.

It’s not a vast leap from beets and asparagus to claiming that drinking turpentine imparts a floral aroma (and some say a pink tinge) to the urine. As a matter of fact we find that confirmed in any number of legitimate medical texts — except the specific floral scent they name, oddly, is never that of roses, but rather of violets!

For example, the Toxnet database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) states that “Turpentine exposure can produce the odor of violets in urine.” A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for gum spirits of turpentine lists “painful urination with a violet-like odor of the urine” as a health effect of acute exposure to turpentine via inhalation. The definition of “turpentine poisoning” on states that “symptoms include hematuria, albuminuria, and coma; the urine may have an odor of violets.”

This characteristic of turpentine has been recognized by medical practitioners for centuries, in large part, no doubt, because turpentine itself was once regarded as a medicine. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica lists turpentine’s “pharmacological” qualities, among which are: “The drug is excreted partly by the bronchi — which it tends to disinfect — and partly in the urine, which it causes to smell of violets.”

Abraham Rees’ The Cyclopaedia: Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature, published in 1819, contains a discussion about which of several varieties of turpentine works best as a diuretic, noting that all of them “seem to act in a peculiar manner on the urinary organs, impregnating the water with a violet smell, even when applied externally, particularly the Venice sort.”

“A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in a satirical 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels, “and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?”

The 1749 edition of Pharmacopoeia Universalis: or, A New Universal English Dispensatory by Robert James notes that turpentine sourced from Cyprus, in particular, “gives a Violet Smell to the Urine, even when given in a clyster. It is an excellent Diuretic, and very proper in Ulcers of the Kidneys, Bladder and Uterus.”

What we not been able to find, however, is any record of the use of turpentine by women in ancient Rome (or anywhere else thereafter) specifically to lend their urine a floral scent. While it’s certainly possible that this was the case, no historical sources have been cited by those making the claim. Since 1994

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