Dell has confirmed its laptops do not contain cat urine and has changed the way it produces them, after complaints from angry users flooded the computer maker's website, branding the machines as unusable.

Dell Latitude 6430u
Owners of the Dell Latitude 6430u complained the laptop smelt of car urine. (Dell)

Complaints were first lodged through Dell's user forums on 14 June, with numerous owners of the Latitude 6430u laptop claiming the device emitted a strong smell of cat urine.

The first complaint came from a user called Three West, who said: "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box. It is truly awful."

Another user, called ppark1, replied in early September saying they "thought for sure that the guy in the next cube, who has a cat, brought the cat into work and it urinated on the floor. Smelled just like that. Took me about an hour to determine that the foul odour was coming from the new's awful. I can smell it from a few feet away."

A Dell senior technical consultant with the username SteveB first suggested users clean the laptop's air vents, but after owners replied to say even replacement machines smelt just as bad, the consultant said the issue had become a "top priority" and analysis of returned laptops would take place.

Health hazard

One user called Malioz suggested the problem could originate from additives and plastifies - used to give plastic a soft-touch feel - which are migrating to the surface of the palm rest and creating the smell; the user added they were concerned of the health risks of touching the laptop and breathing in the smell.

In the meantime, the Latitude 6430u remained on sale and users continued to complain of the odour. One user called DaveFWA said: "I have been blaming a new kitten who I swore was creeping into my closed backpack at night and magically hitting the PC with a concentrated urine stream which then magically apologies to the time please make it smell like a new car."

On 30 October, more than four months after the problem was first reported and after several updates from Dell engineers, SteveB said: "The issue was fully investigated and Dell has determined that the smell is not at all related to cat urine or any biological contaminate."

In a statement sent to IBTimes UK, Dell said its investigation "revealed that [the smell] was occurring as a result of a specific manufacturing process. We would like to reassure customers that the odour was not related to biological contamination nor did it present a health hazard."

The company added: "The manufacturing process has subsequently been amended and newly purchased Latitude 6420us are not affected by the issue."

Although a solution has been found, further comments claim the replacement palm rest required to stop the smell on existing laptops is now out of stock.