Why Do Cats Spray in the House and How Can I Stop It?

These are common questions among cat owners, but before we delve into the answers, it’s important to determine if your cat is truly spraying, or if they are urinating outside of the litterbox.

The first thing to notice is how your cat physically looks when they are doing this behavior. With spraying, cats usually stand very tall and spray a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces like walls and doors.

Cats that are actually urinating typically squat and eliminate much larger amounts of urine on horizontal surfaces.

It’s important to note the difference because cat spraying is typically a behavioral issue, whereas urinating outside of the litter box is often a sign of a medical condition such as diabetes and kidney failure. Although it should be noted that cats will sometimes pee outside of a litter box if they have issues with the type of litter being used as well as cleanliness and placement of the litter box.

What Causes Spraying?

Though we humans may find it disgusting and annoying, spraying is a normal way that cats communicate with each other (how strange, I know). The majority of cats that spray are unneutered males, as hormones play a significant role in dominance and marking. Having said that, unspayed female cats will also spray when they are in heat. The scent of their spray attracts male cats. Oh, the things pets do to get attention!

With most cats, spraying happens for territorial reasons, or when the cat feels anxious or threatened. For instance, if stray cats have suddenly been hanging out in your yard, your indoor cats may find it necessary, much to your dismay, to mark near doors and windows to identify that this is THEIR territory. Similarly, if you bring a new pet into your household, you may find your existing cat(s) feel the need to mark their turf.

Cats are very sensitive creatures and they can also become frustrated enough to mark because of changes to their environment. Perhaps you rearranged your furniture, or threw out an old, favorite couch for a new one. This can be enough to start spraying behavior.

On occasion, cats have also been known to mark clothing or bedding of someone who may be visiting your home. While you may snicker when it happens to your mother-in-law, it’s still a behavior that must be stopped, lest you want to spend the rest of your life in a home that smells horrendous.

How to Stop Your Cat from Spraying

There are several effective ways you can change your cat’s marking behavior. It is important to mention here that punishing your cat should always be avoided as this will only add to their stress levels and, most likely, cause them to spray even more.

Spay or Neuter

Spaying and neutering your cat should be the first step to eliminating the behavior. When sex hormones are decreased, the spraying will most likely decrease as well.

Determine if There are Any Conflicts

The next most important thing to do is identify any conflicts your cat may be having with other pets in your home. Is another cat or dog chasing them or bullying them in some way? If so, you may want to seek the help and guidance from a qualified animal behaviorist who can recommend techniques and training the will resolve the conflicts.

If the spraying is a result of stray cats in your yard, either keep your cat indoors at all times (which is recommended anyway for their health and safety), and also consider blocking his view with curtains.

Eliminate Anxiety

Cats that are anxious can be effectively soothed with feline pheromone sprays, such as Feliway. The scent will help your cat feel calm and secure in his environment.

Mentally Stimulate Your Cat

Cats bore easily and need mental stimulation throughout the day. Play with your cat as much as possible, and, when you’re away, leave them productivity toys, like food puzzles, to give them something to focus on.

Increase the Number of Litter boxes in Your Home 

If you have a multi-cat home, be sure to place multiple litter boxes in several locations so that every cat has free access and won’t be interrupted by other cats. This will eliminate any potential stress.

Be aware that changing your cat’s behavior won’t happen overnight. The transition will definitely require patience on your part. In the interim, consider using diapers so your cat is unable to mark. Though you will see your cat back up to your furniture or wall and shake his backside, the diaper will block urine from getting onto your household items.

Pet Parents® cat diapers come in a variety of sizes, so they will fit your cat nice and snug, and are also washable, so may be used over and over.

Cat Diapers

If you have any questions about properly sizing your cat for a diaper, get in touch with us, we’ll be more than happy to help.