Cat Spraying and Urinating; Why and How Can I Stop It

by The Pet Care Guy on July 23, 2009

So you have a cat, or cats, that are spraying, or urinating in your home? Why on earth do they do this, and how can you stop them from doing it? I will try to give you all that I know, then you can follow through and hopefully rid yourself of this problem.

Just like dogs mark their territory, so do cats. This is what the spraying is all about. It marks their territory to tell other cats that this area is theirs, and to stay away. But why would a house cat need to spray, and why don’t other cats do it? And what if your cat is simply urinating in the house but not spraying?

Illness

The first thing you want to do is to make sure your cat is healthy. Illness can make a cat urinate in areas other than the litter box. Bladder, stomach, kidney, or intestinal problems can cause your cat to not only urinate in other areas of the house, but defecate as well.

Stress and poisoning could also be causes. Cats older than 9 years, and cats that have accidents in many different areas of the house may have an illness.

The first step is to make sure your cat has a check-up, and that illness is not the cause. Also, don’t get angry with the cat. An ill cat does not have control, getting angry at your cat may cause more stress, which can result in more accidents.

Stress

We all could use a little less stress. This goes for your cat too. Some cats are more sensitive than others, and you need to look for cues from your cats to see when they may be more stressed out. Look for changes in their body language, look at the size of their pupils, and watch to see if they want to run away from things that may stress them out.

You never know what may cause stress until you observe and learn from your cat. Some of the more common things that can upset a kitty are changes in litter, change of location of the litter box, dirty litter box, changes in location of furniture, moving to a different home, introduction of another pet, changing weather, unwanted attention, changes in food, or going on vacation. All these, and many more may cause your cat to start urinating in unwanted areas.

Like all animals, cats are creatures of habit, and they love a routine. If anything in the routine changes, you may have issues. Keep stress down, and keep your cat happy by keeping things predictable.

Spraying

One big stress agent is another cat, or cats. Most cats that live together will learn to get along, or tolerate each other in the home, and there will be no problem. You can foster this behavior if you play and groom them together. Let them sleep together, and let them eat
together (under supervision at first). These activities will create less tension and less competition.

If the cats are allowed outside, then there may be a problem. Cats mark their boundaries all the time when they are outside. If they come in and out, they may not differentiate the two, and they may continue marking their territory inside as well.

Males are more likely to spray than females, but they both will spray. If you spay and neuter your cat(s), this may get rid of the problem. If the cats have been spraying for some time, the behavior is a part of them and it may take a while for them to stop spraying. And if they continue to go in and out of the house, the behavior may not stop, depending on the length of time the cat has been an outdoor cat.

Still, spaying and neutering is the best way to prevent cats from spraying. Spay or neuter your cat before they are 6 months old, and very rarely will your cat spray. And, unless you are a breeder, you should spay and neuter not only to hopefully prevent unwanted behaviors, but it is also part of being a responsible owner.

Shelters are already overpopulated. If your cat(s) is not fixed, that time of the month is when you may notice they are spraying more often. They may be looking for a mate, and spraying is a way to attract the opposite sex. A cat’s scent holds a lot of information that other cats can read when they smell it.¬†

If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of stray cats, just the sight of the stray cat may cause your cat to spray. This is your cat’s way of saying, “This is my home!” If you invite a stray into your home, you may have problems with it spraying, as discussed above. And if you already have a cat, this may really cause spraying. You should not feed the strays that come around if your cat is spraying.

If you stop feeding the stray, it should stop coming around and the problem may go away. If you have a situation where your cat sprays when it sees a stray, block the view. This may prevent spraying. If your cat sprays because there are other animals that are causing stress for your cat, separate the animals and the problem may go away.

Cleaning Up

Also, you need to clean the areas that are marked. These areas need to be absolutely free of the odor. I say this not because you do not want to smell it, but if your cat smells an area that they have marked, they will spray there again and again. They will keep marking their territory.

There are many commercial odor neutralizers out there that work really well. They do not cover up the odors of urine, feces, or marking odors, but instead they neutralize them completely. Do not use any old cleaner that just tries to cover up the odors. They will NOT work. The odors must be neutralized. Again, if your cat can still smell it, they will continue to urinate or spray.

To help change the behavior of your cat spraying, you can use cat repellents. You may want to place foil or wadded up newspaper around the areas, or shallow pans of water. You can also put double-sided tape around the area. These will keep your cat away.

You may want to put cat food down at the areas where your cat sprays because they do not want to mark where they eat. You may also spray them with a water bottle if you see they are getting ready to mark. Do not spray them with water any other time. Save this only for when you actually see them getting ready to mark.

As a last resort, confine your kitty cat to a small area. Have a spot for food and water, and a spot for the litter box. In a confined area, your cat will not want to mark because there are no threats. You can then slowly expand your cat’s territory.

If you have been having problems, these solutions will take time and committment to use. Just try one thing at a time, and make sure your cats are healthy. You can stop your cats from spraying.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

The Woof Blog July 29, 2009 at 3:00 am

A Reader’s Reply to September’s Article: Cat Spraying and Urinating; Why and How Can I Stop It

In September I wrote an article on why cats may spray and urinate in the home, and what steps you can take to try to stop this behavior. One of our clients and newsletter readers had an idea about a product that is out there which is supposed to help with this problem.

She writes…

“Feeliway is what I wanted to tell you about in regards to the cats spraying and Nature’s Miracle just for cats. Feeliway is a plug in for cats and it gives off some sort of hormone that relaxes them and keeps them from spraying. I have …

Reply

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