Cat spraying urine in the house is one of the most annoying and frustrating cat behavior problem. Constant urine smell is pretty hard to tolerate and sadly but not surprisingly, some cats will have to take a one way trip to the shelter.
However, as with most cat behavior problems, there is a reason as to why the cat sprays. Identifying the cause can greatly help you in finding the right solution to stop this annoying habit.
Why do they spray?
Spraying should not be confused with inappropriate urination since it is an intentional act.
In entire cats, urine spraying is part of a normal and natural behavior. It is a way to convey territorial and sexual messages to other cats. Not only tomcats spray, queens in heat will spray too to let others know they are ready to mate.
In neutered cats, the most common reasons for spraying is competition and territorial disputes between cats in multi-cat households, moving to a new house, arrival of a new baby or another pet and situations where the cat feels unsafe and insecure so it may feel the need to ‘reinforce’ its ‘territory’.
How to stop them spraying
Firstly, your cat should have a health check to make sure there is no underlying medical condition causing its behavior. It is possible the cat has cystitis or some other elimination problem.
Since urine spraying in entire cats is primarily a sexual behavior, neutering can help to control this behavior in most cases. In addition, it will also reduce territoriality and aggression between cats. Yet, it is not necessarily a cure-all and don’t expect your cat will stop spraying right away – it may take two to three months.
Clean soiled areas thoroughly. You can purchase cleaners and odor neutralizers at your local pet store or simply use diluted vinegar. Stay away from products containing ammonia – they could stimulate the marking behavior as urine also contains ammonia.
If you own more cats, you will need to provide each cat with one litter box and you should have one extra box for the house. Cats don’t like dirty boxes!
Try to identify the reason why your cat sprays. If for example a new person has moved into the house, have him or her feed your cat to establish a bond between them.
If your cat is anxious then try to reduce the stress levels by playing with it in areas where it tends to spray.
If your cat is spraying in one room only, keep the door locked. If it is spraying only in one or two locations and you cannot keep the cat out, make it to a feeding and playing area. Most cats are very clean animals and will not urinate near their food.
Use Feliway spray or diffuser (a synthetic equivalent of feline facial pheromones) in all areas where your cat marks. Feliway makes the cat feel comfortable and safe and decreases its instinctive urges.
If you have more cats and they don’t get along, you should initially separate them to see if spraying continues. Then you could gradually reintroduce them in situations that create positive associations such as playing and feeding in combination with calming effect of Feliway.
You should never punish your cat by dragging it to its litter box, rubbing its nose in litter or smacking it. In fact, you will make the matters much worse. Your cat will then associate punishment with you and the litter box; it may become anxious and start to spray even more.
If nothing works then ask your vet for advice or referral to a cat behaviorist. In severe cases, where all cat behavior training and modification techniques fail your vet can prescribe appropriate medication (usually anti-anxiety drugs