How to Stop a Cat from Spraying?

Cats Spray Everywhere

For cat parents, inappropriate peeing is one of the most annoying but common problem they have with their cat kids. Certainly, cat spraying everywhere around the house isn’t pleasant at all. But they may not be doing it on purpose.

It can happen for many reasons. Physical issues such as kidney issues and arthritis can cause your cat to spray in the wrong place. If these issues have already been ruled out, the cause is a behavioral one.

At A Glance

  • 5 Reasons why cat spraying
  • 8 Steps How to stop a cat from spraying

5 Reasons Why Cats Spray Everywhere

cat in grey standing near opened door

1. Urinary tract infection

According to the experts at Veterinary Medical Associates, Modesto, cats often spray when they have a UTI or urinary tract infection.

UTIs can make cats miserable, which is why, a distressed cat might pass urine over and over. You might see your female or male cat straining to let out a few drops of urine, and mostly they will pee outside the litter box.

UTIs and cystitis are often seen in abandoned cats or cats rescued from shelters, and that's one of the reasons why you have to take a new adopted feline to a vet first for physical exam.

Other signs of feline UTI are:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Bloody or colored urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Painful urination (whining, mewing, crying)
  • Lack of appetite

If you notice these signs, please see your vet right away.

2. Does not like the cat litter/litter box issues

Cats usually start spraying or marking outside the litter box if there is a change in the litter you use. In multi-cat households, a cat might pee outside the box when there are territorial issues or simply due to the fact that there is only one litter box.

These litter box issues can trigger behavioral problems in cats, due to which they might start marking and spraying.

3. Marking behavior in ‘unfixed’ cats

This is the most common reason behind spraying in cats. Unneutered/unspayed cats tend to mark their territory by urinating all around the property.

Cats are rather territorial by nature, and they use their urine as ‘non-verbal communication’ to warn off other cats. The smell of their urine helps communicate their ‘social standing’ and reproductive status to other cats, and also helps them draw boundaries or attract mates.

Also Read: How to Remove Cat Pee Smell

4. Stress

Just like humans, cats can also get stressed. Of course, the reasons of stress differ from one cat to another. For example, the arrival of a new cat in the house, or another house pet could stress your cat out. Resultantly, it might start marking its territory.

When a cat sprays, it not only releases urine, but also many glandular secretions. Additionally, it will let out some pheromones as well. These communicate several things to other cats like ‘I am the boss here’, ‘this is my area’, etc.

A stressed cat will show increased spraying behavior, either to release some of its stress and also to ward off other cats in its territory.

5. Cats in heat

Female cats in heat will spray when they want to attract intact male cats from nearby. The pheromones in the urine communicate to the male cats that she is ready to mate.

𝐍𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐲, 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐮𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐢𝐭.

Step By Step: How to Stop a Cat from Spraying

woman petting a gray cat on grass during daytime

1.  Spay/neuter your cat

Spaying or neutering can prevent most of the marking behavior in your kitty. It can also help prevent many cancers in both the genders.  Also, when you neuter a male cat, it is less likely to show aggression. Likewise, when you spay a female cat, you can prevent it from ‘crying due to heat’ as well as behaviors like territory marking and mess associated with her heat cycle.

2. Clean the messy urine area thoroughly

Cats and dogs often use their sense of smell to urinate in the ‘marked’ spot over and over. That is why you must clean the area that they have sprayed using strong enzymatic cleaners.

Enzymatic cleaners break down urine molecules and completely eliminate the strong odor. This can stop your cat from urinating in the same spot again. Use the following steps to clean the spot:

  • Dab away all the liquid mess using rags and tissues
  • Pour or spray the enzymatic cleaner on the spot.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes or as instructed on the product label.
  • Vacuum thoroughly.

3. Train your cat to use the litter box

Training your cat to use the litter box diligently can also reduce much of the spraying and marking behavior.

Here are the steps to litter box training:

  • Place the litter box in a safe, clean area away from loud noises.
  • Make sure you use litter that your cat is used to. Most cats like unscented litter.
  • Let your cat sniff the box and examine it.
  • Once it uses the box, treat or reward it right away.
  • Place multiple boxes if you have several cats. The rule of thumb is: use N+1 boxes if you have N cats. So, if you have 2 cats, make sure to use 3 boxes.
  • Clean litter boxes periodically, as cats are fastidiously clean creatures, and they hate dirty and smelly boxes.

4. Try changing the litter box

If your cat continues to spray or mark outside the litter box, then switch to another box. Sometimes, cats need covered boxes for privacy. At other times, a cat might have developed mobility issues that may prohibit it from entering the litter box with ease. In this case, switch to a box with easier entry points.

Switching to a new box based on your cat’s needs can help most of the eliminated spraying behavior.

5. Provide your pet with a clean and hygienic pet water fountain

Cats need to drink plenty of water to help dissolve struvite crystals, kidney stones, and also to prevent urinary tract infections.

You can try   Pet Water Fountain which is very easy to clean, eliminates pet hair and other debris, and also provides UV germicidal filtration. This way, your cat will have access to clean, fresh, and healthy drinking water.

A healthy cat is less likely to spray.

6.  Stay positive with your pet

Never shout, punish, or hit your cat. That can worsen its behavioral issues and could even make it aggressive. Always handle your cat’s spraying behavior positively. Positive reinforcement training using treats and rewards will be much better in showing results than the use of negative methods. 

7. Eliminate stress

If your cat is stressed due to the arrival of another cat or due to some other routine changes, then try and reassure it as much as possible. As far as possible, provide separate toys, bowls, cat condos, and litter boxes etc. to all the cats.

Keep your cat active, physically and mentally. Make sure it gets to expend its energy. You can invest in some cat toys and puzzles to engage it mentally. If needed, invest in some cat calming supplements, collars, or herbal oil diffusers as advised by a vet.

8. Consult a veterinarian

If none of the above methods work, please consult your vet. Sometimes, an underlying health issue can be the reason behind excessive marking, especially in a ‘fixed’ cat.

How to Stop a Cat from Spraying?

The best way to stop a cat from spraying is by neutering/spaying it. Make sure your cat gets physical and mental exercise on a daily basis to reduce stress. Treat underlying health issues like urinary infections right away. If needed, invest in cat calming supplements, collars, and herbal medicines as advised by your vet.

Note: This article is written after years of experience in veterinary guidance, all content can only serve as a guide. For more detailed consultation, please contact your local veterinarian.

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