As much as we love our cats, it’s incredibly stressful to come home to find your cat urinating where he or she is not supposed to. How do you deal with the mess…and the smell? Why is it happening? And what can you do to stop it?
The first thing you should know is that it’s completely fixable. And secondly, understand that your cat’s under some stress as well, or she wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Here’s our step-by-step plan to tackle cat urine spraying.
Clean the areas well
Before you can stop cat spraying, you have to clean up any urine — and clean it well. Traces of old urine can trigger your cat’s desire to re-mark an area, making it cyclical. (Be sure not to use a cleaner with ammonia, which is actually a component of cat urine and can trigger further marking incidents.)
Not sure what to use? We recommend Wee-Wee® Urine Eliminator Stain & Odor Destroyer because it’s pet-safe and dissolves even stubborn urine stains and odors. Use it on carpets, floors, furniture, clothing, car interiors, pet bedding…pretty much anywhere you need it.
Sometimes it’s not always clear exactly where your cat is spraying, especially if the urine has time to dry. To help you locate marked areas, try an LED UV blacklight product like Pogi's Pet Stain Detector.
“WHEN CATS SPRAY OR URINATE OUTSIDE THE BOX, THEY'RE GENERALLY ACTING OUT DUE TO FEAR, STRESS OR DISRUPTION.”
Figure out what your cat's really doing
Male cats spray most often – particularly adult, un-neutered males. But that doesn't mean they're the only ones. Any cat, including neutered males and spayed females, can spray.
What seems like subtle changes in your pet's daily routine (even changes that, to you, are positive) can cause her to react negatively. When cats spray or urinate outside the box, they're generally acting out due to fear, stress, or a disruption. It can be caused by moving, visitors, new furniture, new pets in the next apartment, or even stray cats in your neighborhood.
There are really two kinds of inappropriate urination. They have different causes, so knowing which one your cat is up to is key to solving the problem.
- Is she spraying to mark territory? If your cat is directing urine onto a vertical surface, she’s marking her territory.
- Is she urinating outside her litter box? If your cat is squatting and urinating onto a horizontal surface (just as she would in her box), it’s not about marking territory.
Solve the underlying issues that are causing the behavior problem.
If she’s marking territory (spraying onto vertical surfaces), then spaying and neutering your cat will often eliminate the problem altogether. The Humane Society recommends getting your cats spayed or neutered by the time they’re five months old. And even if your furry friend isn’t a kitten anymore, spaying or neutering will probably still help – check with your vet for a professional recommendation, or check the Humane Society’s page to find low-cost spay and neuter resources.
The next thing to try is Comfort Zone products. They work by mimicking the soothing feline facial pheromone that cats use to mark objects as familiar and safe. The Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser releases a drug-free odorless vapor that has a calming and soothing effect, making cats less likely to mark with urine. And use the Comfort Zone Spray & Scratch Control Spray as needed to spot-treat objects or areas where your cat is marking.
If she’s urinating as usual (but outside her litter box), there can be a number of reasons for this behavior:
- Inadequate cleaning of the litter box. Cats, like many of us, like their bathrooms to be clean. If her litter box isn’t cleaned often enough, she may urinate elsewhere in protest. A self-cleaning box might be the perfect answer.
- Unacceptable litter. Did you recently change to a scented litter? Crystals instead of clumping? By all means, if you had something that worked, switch back to what she prefers.
- Not enough litter boxes. If your house has several floors, put a litter box on each floor. And if you have more than one cat, provide more than one litter box, so there’s always one accessible.
- Location, location, location. If your litter box is in a busy area, out in the open, or next to a noisy appliance, it may not be a comfortable place for her to go.
- Health issues. If all other potential causes have been ruled out, please see a veterinarian, especially if your kitty seems to be spending a lot of time trying to go. Urinary tract infections can be painful, and, especially in male cats, life-threatening.