At the top of the list of the most frustrating problems you can come across when owning a cat, you’ll find inappropriate peeing, also known as cat spraying or urine marking. Perhaps you’ve noticed wet spots on the side of your couch or droplet stains on your drapes, or maybe you’ve even found some urine tinkling down your front door or wall. You give it a smell to see what it is – and yup, that’s cat pee alright, an unmistakable scent. But now what? Cat spraying can occur for many reasons – from feeling threatened to want to attract a mate. Regardless, it’s a smelly issue that you’ll want to catnip in the butt as soon as possible.
What is Cat Spraying or Urine Marking
It’s easy to assume that cat spraying is simply your cat using wherever he or she pleases as their personal litter box, but such is not the case. Yes, cat spraying is urine. However, it’s the spraying of small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. Just as the name suggests, it’s a quick spray of urine and what separates it from being classified as an un-potty-trained cat are the causes1Spraying | International Cat Care. (2018). Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://icatcare.org/advice/spraying/.
Common Reasons Cat’s Spray
Now that you have spotted some urine markings, the next step is to determine why your cat is spraying in the first place. This is going to be the tell-all sign you need to understand what needs to be done to eliminate urine marking in the first place.
For most cats, it’s a form of communication. Animals often communicate through scent by rolling around on the ground, rubbing their body along surfaces and nudging their head into your body. These cute forms of communication are far more desirable than having urine sprayed on your vertical surfaces. So, you need to get to the bottom of what they’re trying to communicate to eliminate the smelly problem. Typically, a cat spraying is trying to communicate one of four things – they feel threatened, they want to attract other cats to mate, they’re stressed or they are experiencing discomfort from a medical issue2Flowers, DVM, A. (2021). Urine Marking in Cats. Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-spraying. These things can also be prompted by things such as having multiple cats in the home and your feline wants to mark their territory or establish pecking order, there are changes to the home (a move, home renovation, routine shift, etc.) or it’s mating season and your feline wants a friend.
However, urine marking can be brought on by a health issue. So, it’s crucial to take a trip to the vet to rule this out before anything else. Once you’ve made sure their health is not the cause, you’ll know that it is strictly a behavioral issue, which allows you to narrow in on the proper course of action.
How to Stop Your Cat from Spraying
Before we move into the different ways you can get your cat to finally stop turning your home into their personal porta-potty, there are some things to consider. For starters, sometimes urine marking is the result of an issue with the litter box. To rule out this possibility, make sure the litter box is cleaned regularly and in an area where your cat can easily access it. You may also want to try changing up the location, using different litter, or even upgrading to a new litter box. While it may sound like a nuisance, this is a really simple fix for stopping inappropriate peeing.
Secondly, cats are more likely to spray if there are other cats in the home. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of any of your furry friends. However, this can help you understand if there is a conflict or high-stress environment that is causing your cat to spray. If so, you may want to make some necessary changes to the environment, such as having separated food and water bowls, litter boxes, baby gates for separation, and so on and so forth.
Thirdly, cats that have not been spayed or neutered are more likely to mark. If this is something you were considering doing, now may be the time as it can decrease the odor and need to spray. Although, it isn’t always foolproof especially if the urine marking is the result of the potential issues mentioned previously.
Tips for Eliminating Cat Spray
Now, let’s dive into the simple yet effective ways to get your cat to stop spraying their urine particles wherever they please.
- Get your cat spayed or neutered: This can eliminate their need to spray.
- Clean soiled areas immediately: The smell itself will make you want to clean the soiled area immediately, but it’s important that you do so with a mild soap as strong-smelling cleaning products can actually cause your cat to mark the area again.
- Keep your cat away from outdoor cats: Perhaps your feline friend is being triggered by a visiting outdoor cat that makes them feel threatened. If you notice a cat roaming your yard and in sight of your kitty, try to close the blinds or move your cat’s perch until you can get the outdoor cat to shew.
- Keep your cat indoors: Speaking of which, keep your urine-marking cat indoors. This will help you narrow in on the possible causes of their urine marking.
- Reduce your cat’s stress with play: A stressed out cat is more likely to urine mark, so keep your cat active with lots of toys and play to increase their overall wellbeing and reduce their stress.
- Separate bowls and boxes for each cat: As mentioned previously in this article, if you have multiple cats in your home, you can eliminate stress and conflict by providing each cat with their own food bowl, box and separate feeding areas.
- Get an enzyme-neutralizing cleaner: If your cat has been spraying, you already know how intense the smell can be, even after several cleans. To make sure the marking areas are completely free of urine molecules, try an enzyme-neutralizing cleaner.
- Avoid negative reinforcement: As frustrating as it is that your cat is spraying, it is absolutely imperative to avoid shouting at your cat or punishing them in any way. This will only increase their stress levels and motivate them to mark even more.
- Use a deterrent: Once you have cleaned the area, make sure to deter your cat from using it again with a deterrent spray.
- Stick with a consistent routine: Cats don’t like change. Try to keep things as consistent and ‘normal’ as possible to avoid inappropriate elimination. This can be as simple as not rearranging your furniture, not moving your cat’s food and water bowls, etc.
Cat spray is a smelly, frustrating issue, but one that can be fixed with the proper course of action. The key is to find the underlying causes of the urine marking in the first place and then work from there. While it can be tempting to simply clean the area and carry on, this only masks the problem and never gets down to the root cause of the marking, which will likely result in your cat spraying some more. And if you haven’t already done so, take your cat to the vet to make sure they are spraying as a result of a health issue.
- 1Spraying | International Cat Care. (2018). Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://icatcare.org/advice/spraying/
- 2Flowers, DVM, A. (2021). Urine Marking in Cats. Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cat-spraying