Cats have a natural tendency to mark their territory with urine. Unfortunately, as your house is part of your cat’s territory, this can include urine-marking inside your home.
Urine-marking can take two forms: spraying urine on vertical surfaces or urinating on horizontal surfaces. Don’t confuse this with your cat simply urinating outside of their litter box, which can indicate a medical problem and should be checked out by a veterinarian. As long as your cat is regularly using their litter box, you know the issue is urine-marking.
There are various reasons why your cat might be urine-marking inside your house. Luckily, it’s usually an issue that can be solved. When you find out what’s wrong, you can start working towards a solution.
Spay or neuter your cat
The most common reason a cat will urine-mark your house is if they are unneutered or unspayed. The urge to spray is very strong in an intact cat. Both male and female cats can spray, although the behavior is more typical in non-neutered males.
It’s recommended to get your cat neutered or spayed by five months old. If you’ve adopted an older cat, get them fixed as soon as possible. Neutering has been shown to solve 90 percent of all marking issues.
Reduce or eliminate stress
Cats are very sensitive to their environment. In order to deal with the anxiety of a stressful situation, a cat’s instinct is often to mark their territory.
They can be upset by an event such as moving to a new house, a new baby arriving, new renters moving in, another pet bothering them or a conflict outside the house you might not even be aware of.
It’s important to eliminate any obvious stressors if possible. Resist any temptation to scold or punish your cat for spraying. This will only make matters worse.
In general, these are some other ways you can help your cat relax and relieve stress:
- Play with your kitty at least 10-15 minutes twice a day. Physical activity will help reduce stress, so try to find some toys you can use with your cat that they can chase and interact with. Better yet, rub some catnip on them.
- Keep your home interesting. Boredom can be an unnecessary source of stress. Give your cat a scratching post or leave out treat balls and new toys for them to discover.
- Provide safe spaces for your cat. They need to have safe hiding places in your home, and cardboard boxes, cat trees, a clear bookshelf or simply spaces in closets work fine.
- Stick to a routine. If you need to make any changes to your routine, make sure you allow your cat many stress-reduction opportunities to help them through the transition period.
Diagnose any medical issues
Research shows that up to 30 percent of cats that are urinating in the house may have an underlying medical problem, so start by taking your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup.
A urinary tract infection can be the culprit if your cat suddenly stops using their litter box. Other signs of an infection could be crying when they try to urinate or licking their genitals. Urinary tract infections are more common in male cats.
A feline infection can advance quickly, so get your cat to a vet as soon as you notice something is wrong.
Clean sprayed areas
Be thorough, but don’t use strong-smelling cleaners because they may encourage your cat to step up their marking efforts. You can buy enzymatic cleaners at most pet stores specifically for cleaning up urine marks.
You can make previously sprayed areas inaccessible by putting up barriers or moving items in front of the marked objects.
It can also help to change the significance of those areas to your kitty. Feed and play with your cat in the areas they are inclined to mark.
Encourage positive relationships in multi-cat homes
The likelihood of urine spraying increases in direct proportion to the number of cats in a household. Fostering cooperation and comfort between all the cats in a home will reduce any tendencies to spray.
Try playing with your cats together, paying equal attention to everyone. Encourage them to groom each other by wiping them down with a damp cloth, and promote sleeping and eating together.
Also make sure there are enough resources for everyone, including toys, litter boxes, cat beds and feeding dishes.
Restrict your cat’s view of the outdoors
Seeing other cats or animals outside the house can trigger a territorial response in your cat and increase the urge to urine-mark.
It’s helpful to move your furniture away from windows to reduce any convenient perching locations for your cat to watch the outside. You can also pull the curtains or cover the lower portion of your windows up to cat height.
Purchase a commercial spray that will deter your cat from marking the same territory
Most pet stores carry liquid sprays that will repel your cat with unpleasant smells only they can detect.
Feline pheromone sprays are also available, which will make your cat feel more comfortable in your home and less likely to spray.
You don’t have tolerate spraying in the house. By recognizing the causes, you can find a solution that works for everyone.