How to Stop a Cat from Spraying
If you have a problem with cat spraying, it's time for more than just another round of furniture cleaning. You need a solution—fast. Not only do you need to know how to remove cat spray, but also what caused your cat to start spraying in the first place, so you can help stop the bad habit.
When your cat sprays, he's telling you he's stressed or fearful, and that can cause significant stress for you and your household. Thankfully, you can help reduce feline spraying if you understand why it's happening. For best results, it's important to make a proper determination between ordinary urine spraying and behavioral urine spraying.
The Signs of Ordinary Cat Urine Spraying
Cat spraying doesn't mean your cat is mad at you. It's a sign of another issue.1 If your cat is squatting and urinating on a horizontal surface, there are several possible reasons for this behavior.
Your cat may feel uncomfortable because you're not adequately cleaning the litter box. Or your cat may simply not like the type of litter or litter box you use. Try different types of litter and litter box sizes to see if any of those make a difference. It's also possible the litter box is located in an area where there's too much noise or foot traffic. Try moving the box to a more isolated area in the home.
Is accessibility to the litter box an issue? Make sure your cat has easy access to the litter box. If your cat has hip issues, maybe she doesn't want to step over a large entrance to get inside the box. Or maybe another pet blocks her access.
If all other potential causes have been ruled out, check with your veterinarian to see if there is a health-related issue. Barring any of these reasons, stress could be a culprit, just like it is for vertical spraying.
The Signs of Behavioral Cat Spraying
If your cat directs urine onto a vertical surface (marking), his spraying is likely caused by stress or nervousness. Male cats spray most often—particularly adult, unneutered males. But that doesn't mean they're the only ones that spray. Any cat, male or female, can spray.
Stress-triggers that can lead to spraying include a recent move, new furniture in your home, loud noises, or a new pet or family member joining your household.
Even a feral cat wandering around outside might be enough to cause your cat to feel defensive and start spraying. In general, anything that causes your cat to feel insecure could lead to inappropriate spraying.
How to Clean Cat Spray
Before you can stop spraying, you have to clean up any urine—and clean it well.2 Traces of previous spraying can trigger your cat's desire to re-mark an area, making it cyclical. In addition to standard household cleaning products or urine-removal products, many pet parents find vinegar-water mixtures, followed by baking soda, to be effective at removing odor. Be sure not to use a cleaner with ammonia, which is actually a component of cat urine and can trigger further marking incidents.
Good options for cleaning cat spray include the Wee Wee Carpet and Fabric Stain and Odor Destroyer (for all pets) or the Wee Wee Cat Carpet and Fabric Stain and Odor Destroyer. The latter is designed specifically to treat cat messes in a safe way that penetrates deeply to prevent re-marking.
How to Reduce Cat Spraying
You can take several steps to help reduce the triggers that lead to your cat's stress-related spraying.
Try Calming Diffusers
Comfort Zone products can ease your cat's stress, making her feel calmer and less likely to spray. By mimicking soothing cat pheromones, the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser can give your cat a calm, relaxed environment and will help to reduce urine marking.
Plug diffusers in multiple rooms in your house for the best results.
Comfort Zone Spray & Scratch Control Spray can be used along with the diffuser. Spray it directly on the items your cat is drawn to spray on, whether it's a couch or a specific corner of the room.
Make Sure Your Cat is Spayed or Neutered
Spaying or neutering your cat—especially early in life—will usually eliminate, or at least decrease, spraying. Even if your furry friend is no longer a kitten, spaying or neutering still helps to reduce spraying. Talk with your vet for a professional recommendation.
Help Your Cat Feel More Confident
Many times, spraying is a sign of insecurity. Help your cat feel more confident by setting up window perches, cat trees, and cat condos your cat can claim as her territory. The more territory a cat "owns," the more confident she feels. Playing with your cat more can also help, as pent-up energy can lead to stress and nervousness. If your cat is stressed by seeing a feral cat, try closing the blinds at night.
If the problem is another animal, like a dog aggravating your cat or another cat bullying your pet, you might need to re-introduce them so they get along better. You may need to keep them in separate rooms and feed them on opposite sides of a closed door to help slowly build positive associations. Swap scents and then slowly release them back into each other's lives, starting with supervised visits.
When cats spray urine, they're generally acting out due to fear, stress, or disruptions in their lives. Asking the right questions to understand why your cat is spraying is the first step to finding a solution. Seemingly subtle changes in your pet's daily routine or surroundings can cause a big reaction. Take action, and you'll likely notice big improvements in your cat's stress levels.
1. The Humane Society of the United States. "What To Do if Your Cat is Marking Territory." HumaneSociety.org, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cat-marking-territory.
2. PetMD Editorial. "The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Cat Pee Smell." PetMD.com, 7 April 2020, https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_ultimate-guide-to-eliminating-cat-pee-smell.