How to Stop A Cat From Spraying In The House

by Ashley Arlert

Looking to know how to stop a cat from spraying outside litter box? It is a common problem for feline owners when their cat sprays in places other than the litter box. It can be one of the most challenging moments in your relationship with your cat: you come house to discover a spray of feline urine on your sofa, carpets, walls or curtains, despite the fresh litter box sitting mere metres away.

Felines are typically very clean and go to the toilet outside or in a litter tray. Finding signs of urine (wee) or faeces (poo) somewhere else in the house is a sign that something is wrong. A one-off accident might be brought on by disease, being trapped in a room or being terrified. You will need to find out what caused the accident to make sure your feline is happy and healthy.

Telling your cat off will only make things worse as it will make them feel more threatened. And they will not be able to connect the telling off to the occurrence! By finding out what's triggering any toileting or spraying, you'll be able to take actions to help stop them.

What is Cat Spraying?

Spraying is the deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical surface areas. The spraying cat may be observed to back into the location, the tail may tremble, and with little or no crouching the urine is launched. Although much less typical, some cats will likewise mark their area by leaving small amounts of urine or periodically stool on horizontal (flat) surface areas.

As the owner we have to know the distinction in between spraying and urine marking. Basically, it's in the position your cat assumes. When cats spray, they'll support to a standing item. It might be a wall, a chair leg, or another piece of furniture.

They raise their tail up and spray urine. When they urine mark, they'll squat just as if they're peeing typically and they'll do this on a flat surface area, like your carpet or your bed. In both circumstances, the behavior is intentional, and not a matter of their failure to "hold it." It's simply a behavioral concern. So why do cats spray?

Why Do Cats Spray?

Contrary to popular belief, cats do not just spray to mark their territory. A feline can spray because they feel nervous, threatened or frightened. Spraying is different than improper toileting, states Tarina L. Anthony, DVM, a long time professional of feline-exclusive medication, and owner and medical director of Aurora Cat Hospital and Hotel in Aurora, Colo. "Spraying can take place on vertical or horizontal surfaces, is typically a smaller amount than a 'typical' pee, and is used for marking," she says. Whereas inappropriate toileting is on a horizontal surface area, a bigger amount of urine, and usually done when the cat perceives something is wrong.

"This might mean they feel inadequately, do not like the litter, the litter box, or the area of the litter box, or that they choose the location or substrate they are picking to urinate on," Anthony says. "I constantly inform people, 'urination is interaction'.".

If cat spraying started after unfavorable modification, the intro of another family pet, or conflict due to the fact that a clowder (group) of cats isn't cohabitating in harmony, think of speaking with a cat behaviorist. They'll have the ability to evaluate the scenario more plainly and work with your veterinarian to come up with more targeted solutions regarding why your cat is feeling stressed out, fearful, or unpleasant-- and spraying to get his point throughout.

According to The Humane Society, there are several possible factors for this frustrating and foul-smelling behavior. Take a look listed below and see which resonates with your cat. And remember, there could be more than one factor. If you really want to know how to stop a cat from spraying, know these factors first.

Factor #1. Stress.

Felines are most certainly creatures of habit. Have you changed anything in your feline's routine or environment? Just like how humans handle tension by engaging in specific relaxing routines, cats might use urine marking, or spraying, to ease their tension by marking out their borders. They might attempt to self-soothe by producing their own "safe space." Think about your life just recently. Have you moved? Have brand-new family members been brought into the home? Has your routine altered?

Factor #2. Medical problems.

If your cat has stopped utilizing the litter box or if he urinates right in front of you, it's time to see your vet. A urinary tract infection might be responsible for your feline's current spraying behavior.

Kidney illness may likewise produce changed urinary routines, consisting of more frequent urination. Because felines can't verbalize when they're in difficulty, they might utilize altered behavior to signify to you that something is wrong.

Factor #3. New animals.

If you've recently adopted a feline, pet dog, or another animal, your cat might just be desiring to develop that this is his territory. Cats really require a lot more "restroom area" than they're often given. Dr. Liz Bales, advises one litter box per feline, plus one.

Factor #4. Your feline isn't neutered.

Male cats that aren't sterilized have a strong desire to spray or mark their area. If you can sterilize your cat prior to he's five months old, most of the time you can avoid the habits from developing in the first place. If you've embraced an older feline, you can still get him neutered and the majority of the time, this will end the spraying behavior.

Common Reasons for Feline Spraying and What You Can Do

Cystitis and other urinary system infections

Cystitis and other kinds of urinary system illness may trigger your cat to require to go for a wee more frequently. The infection likewise makes cats to urinate instantly, instead of attempting to go outdoors or to the litter tray. Speak to your vet if you think this might be the cause.


An older feline may not want to head out in bad weather or might be having problems utilizing the feline flap because of stiffening joints. Or, they may feel more insecure because they can not escape as easily as they did when younger.

Even if your feline has actually constantly gone outside, supplying a litter tray inside your home is an advantage to do for your feline as they get older. If your family pet appears a bit stiff, pick one with low sides so that it's simple to enter. You need to also contact your vet as your family pet may take advantage of arthritis treatment.

Some conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes can increase thirst and, for that reason, urination. If the litter tray is constantly wet, your feline may not wish to utilize it. Modification the tray once it has actually been used and speak to your veterinarian.

As some felines age, their memory can decrease. This suggests that some of the behaviours they have discovered eg where to go to the toilet, can be forgotten. Constantly speak with your vet if your older cat starts toileting inside as this is typically caused by a health condition.

Feeling scared

Felines typically dig a hole, squat to urinate or defecate, and cover it up afterwards. Your cat might be afraid of an area canine, another feline or traffic after a close encounter with a car.

If the problem is caused by another feline outdoors, or being available in through the feline flap, then take steps to make your cat feel safe and secure once again:

  • Lock the feline flap and let them out yourself - this provides some security and helps frighten off any felines waiting in the garden.
  • Change the cat flap to one which is opened by a magnet or electronic key on your feline's collar so that other felines can not can be found in.
  • Do not motivate other felines into your garden by feeding them or providing attention.
  • Accompany your feline outside as this may provide some extra assistance.
  • Sprinkle a few of their soiled litter around the boundary of your garden.

Dig up a quiet, protected area with softer soil for your cat to utilize, or use a pile of sand which your cat can dig a hole in. Provide a litter tray inside.

Litter tray problems

If your feline normally utilizes a litter tray but has actually just recently begun to go somewhere else in the house there might be an obvious reason.

Filthy litter tray

Felines do not like utilizing a tray if it is extremely filthy. Litter trays must be cleared out at least every number of days and any poo removed daily. If you have more than one cat, provide one tray for each.

A very clean litter tray

Using scented litter, antiperspirants or disinfectants with strong smells may put your sensitive cat off using the tray. Use a feline-friendly disinfectant and make certain the tray is washed thoroughly with clean water. Avoid disinfectants which turn cloudy in water as these normally consist of phenols which are toxic to cats. Wash the litter tray prior to use.

The wrong type of litter

Changing the consistency or the fragrance of the litter might put your cat off using it. Numerous cats choose fine-grain litter with the consistency of sand. If you wish to alter the type of litter, blend the brand-new one in slowly over a week or so to make certain your feline likes it.

The position

If the tray is placed outdoors where your pet dog, children or other cats might interrupt it, your feline may feel too susceptible to use it and look for a more safe and secure area behind the couch.

The type of litter tray

If you have an open kind of tray, attempt purchasing one with a lid to help your feline feel safe. Placing a box with a hole in the side over the tray may also work.

A disappointment in the past

Sometimes felines do not use their litter tray because of a disappointment, such as:

  • being cornered there and provided medication.
  • sensation afraid or terrified by another family pet or child.
  • having previous episodes of pain connected with passing urine or faeces.

Moving the tray to a quiet spot and supplying a cover for it might help.

Why Do Felines "Mark" with Urine?

Cats mark the places where they live or where they regular in many ways. Felines will mark with scent glands on their feet, cheeks, face and tail as well as with urine. They will mark their territory to indicate "ownership" and to market sexual receptivity and schedule. Marking can happen due to other cats in the vicinity either outdoors, or amongst felines that reside in the very same home.

Cats will also mark their territory when they feel threatened or worried. Urine spraying and marking can occur with a change in home regimen, addition or departure of new people, living arrangements, brand-new living places and other ecological and social modifications. In these cases the marking pattern might be associated with brand-new things brought into the family, or the ownerships of relative, especially those with which there is the greatest source of dispute or insecurity.

Due to the fact that marking is an approach of delineating area, urine is frequently discovered in prominent places, at entry and exit points to the outdoors such as doors and windows and around the periphery. When outdoors, cats might tend to mark around the periphery of their residential or commercial property, popular items on the home, brand-new things (e.g. a brand-new tree) presented into the residential or commercial property, and areas where other cats have marked.

Which Cats Are More Likely to Urine Mark?

Both male and female felines can mark with urine. While felines in numerous feline households are often involved in spraying habits, felines that are housed singly may spray.

Do Both Male and Female Cats Spray to Mark Their Area?

Any cat has the possible to spray, however males are far more most likely to do it than females, and unneutered males even moreso. It's a scent calling card. "Marking is generally sending out messages to other felines-- the most common being, 'This is my area, go out!'" she states. Nevertheless, neutering does not immediately take care of the issue, especially if it's been going on for a while or there are other cats in the household. Examine the cause of feline spraying with the guidance of a professional.

When Do Female Felines Spray?

VCA Hospitals indicate some felines in heat also use this behavior to convey particular signals. If indoor female or male feline spraying is due to outside felines in the location, motion-activated sprinklers can help keep them from roaming too close to the house cat's area.

How to Clean Up and Eliminate Cat Spray Odor

Feline spray looks and smells like urine, to a point. Since of pheromones in cat spray, it's typically darker yellow and smells particularly more pungent.

It's crucial to tidy immediately and totally to destroy any scent hints. Using an enzymatic cleaner (not ammonia, as it has a similar fragrance to urine and beats the function), you need to apply a volume of cleaner equal to the quantity of urine, according to package instructions. If the stains are serious, you may require to employ professional services or, in extreme situations, change stained products totally.

How to Clean Up Cat Pee and Get Rid of the Smell

Feline pee is pungent! And it's infamously tough to get rid of. When you've determined the reasons for your feline's indoor spraying and discovered the suitable solution, you'll require to review the scene of his criminal offense and tidy it effectively.

Particular enzymatic cleaners are created not to simply clean up the mess, but actually eat up the germs that cause the smells. As soon as the smell is gone, your cat is far less most likely to spray there once again. Here's the detailed procedure to successfully clean up feline urine.

  • Terrycloth rags.
  • An enzyme cleaner.
  • A heavy item.

Step 1: Saturate the surface area with an enzyme cleaner. Be sure to test a small spot to make sure there is no discoloration.

Step 2: Agitate the surface with a tidy terrycloth rag. If the surface is soft, rather than hard, you'll wish to do this for a minimum of 60-90 seconds.

Step 3 (for soft surface areas just): Lightly respray the surface with cleaner, lay a brand-new tidy cloth over it, and after that put a heavy object on top to weigh it down. Let it sit for a minimum of 12 hours.

Step 4: Using a clean cloth, blot the area dry. If the stain is deep or has actually existed a long time, you may require to repeat this process. However, once the smell is gone, and you've gotten to the root of your cat's spraying habits, your house must once again end up being pee-free!

How to stop a cat from spraying - 7 Effective Methods

Whatever the cause, spraying is an undesirable behaviour that can trigger a pervasive odour in your home and harm your furniture, carpeting and walls. Here are some efficient solutions on how to stop a cat from spraying outside its litter box.

1. Sterilize your feline

While desexed felines can still spray, getting them neutered will help suppress this behaviour. If your cat is currently not desexed, get them neutered as soon as possible. This will minimize their hormone levels and is most likely to decrease their urge to spray. Female cats can spray however it is not as typical just like male cats. Keep in mind, most spraying habits can be eliminated by getting your feline neutered. You can do this even at five months old, and generally your cat will never ever begin spraying in the first place.

2. Discover the root cause of the stress

If your animal is spraying because they feel nervous, you need to discover the origin of the issue. Look for indications of feral or stray cats hiding outside, such as feline droppings or dead rodents or birds left on decks. A feral cat's presence could be threatening your feline's authority. If you have other pets, identify whether they could be bullying or bugging your cat.

If you've just recently moved, it may take a while for your cat to feel comfortable in his new home. Start by providing small boundaries for him, perhaps giving him one room. If a new person has actually been presented into the family, make certain to provide and your cat a lot of time to bond.

Even when the reason for spraying is not apparent, there are methods which you can make your cat feel more secure. Restrict the location they're enabled to patrol to one or two spaces. This might help your cat feel more safe and decrease their desire to mark.

Cats sometimes mark their territory if their owners go on holiday and leave a stranger to take care of them. Because they feel susceptible, they mark an area that has a strong scent of the owners, such as the duvet. The very best way to prevent this is to keep the bedroom door closed. Make your feline feel secure once again on your return from holiday.

Another feline in your house or in the neighbourhood might cause tension for your cat. Felines usually like to be by themselves so make certain they have adequate area. When a feline is merely too stressed out for the circumstance ever to be solved, it's worth considering rehoming one of the felines. Without the pressure of trying to manage another feline in the home, the possibility of spraying is minimized.

3. Examine their living area

Many cats do not like sudden changes and they might be feeling distressed. Prior to you jump to conclusions, ask yourself these concerns: Have you moved just recently? Did you disappear for a while? Have you reorganized your cat's living location? Have you moved their food and water bowls? Is their litter box clean and tidy?

Frequently, these modifications can cause unnecessary tension on your cat. If you have adequate space, consider putting out several litter boxes so your cat always has a neighboring alternative when nature calls. And any noise or brand-new people in your home might make your feline feel unclear. Refurnishing or replacing furniture efficiently removes all your feline's subtle scent markings that have been thoroughly positioned by rubbing and scratching.

Keep your feline far from the modified space till the smells are not quite so strong and have actually mingled with the other familiar aromas in the house. A cat might be less most likely to spray if their aroma is already there. You can likewise spread a few of your feline's scent yourself:

  • Take a soft cotton cloth and rub it carefully around their face (where a few of the glands which produce cat's specific scents are located) to gather aroma
  • Dab the furniture or walls of the space where the problem is occurring with the cloth and repeat this daily
  • Vets and online suppliers can likewise provide an item (Feliway) which acts in the same way. It includes copies of natural scents-- the aromas produced by the glands on your cat's face.

4. Keep your feline active

A routine schedule provides your feline a sense of stability and structure. Leave your family pet some academic and interactive toys to keep them hectic while you're not there, and delight in some routine play sessions when you get home so they feel loved and looked after. Learn more in our guide to feline exercise.

Assist your family pets get used to each other. Often, this is just a matter of time. Don't require the problem! Keep in mind, do not make your felines share a litter box, and ensure each box is sized appropriately for each feline. The ideal size for a litter box can be measured from the length from your cat's nose to the pointer of his tail, plus another half. And many felines prefer non-hooded boxes.

5. Stay positive

As frustrating as it is to tidy up cat urine or remove spraying odour, you need to never yell or punish your cat. This will only increase their tension levels-- and the spraying. If your feline is going back to the very same spot each time to spray, tidy the location with a biological washing solution and encourage them to play, sleep or perhaps feed there instead-- this will assist your feline partner that area with play or relaxation instead of anxiety.

6. Use a soothing collar, spray, diffuser or supplement

There are a number of products on the marketplace created to relax felines and decrease their stress levels. These include collars, sprays, diffusers or supplements. While odourless to people, these products can have a calming impact on felines, making them less stressed and less likely to spray. Use a Cat Spraying Deterrent. Felines are naturally repelled by certain important oils and smells.

7. Consult your vet

If all else fails you must discuss spraying issues with your veterinarian, who can look for medical or physical problems that might be adding to your cat's behaviour. Your vet can likewise put you in touch with a feline behavioural specialist, who can evaluate your cat's routines, breed qualities and lifestyle, and deal additional suggestions and suggestions.

If your feline's spraying inside is related to a medical condition, it's important to see your vet right now. Kidney illness and urinary system infections are absolutely nothing to experiment with, so make certain to reserve a consultation right away. If you're dealing with your cat's behaviour, consult with your vet or a qualified animal behaviourist.

How do I deal with a spraying or marking problem?

Just like all behavior problems, the history will assist determine treatment alternatives. The place of the urine marking, the frequency, duration and number of locations are essential. The variety of cats both inside and contacts outside of the home ought to be identified. Modifications in environment, social patterns of human beings and animals, and additions (individuals, family pets, furniture, renovations) to the home should also be examined.

If the cat is not already neutered, and is not a prospective breeder, castration is advised. A urinalysis should be performed to rule out medical issues. The place of the urine spots should be determined. Is the urine discovered on walls, 6-8 inches up from the floor (indicating spraying/marking), or are there little urine areas discovered in several places (showing an elimination habits issue or potentially a medical issue)?

Ideally the minimum number of litter boxes ought to equal the number of cats plus one. In other words, if there are two cats in the family, there ought to be three litterboxes.

If marking appears to be stimulated by cats outside of the home, then the finest choices are to find a method to hinder the cats from coming onto the home or avoid the indoor feline from seeing, smelling or hearing these felines. It likewise may be needed to keep windows closed to avoid the within feline from smelling the cats outside, and to utilize smell neutralizers on any locations where the outdoor felines have removed or sprayed.

If the problem is due to social interactions inside the home, it may be needed to figure out which cats do not get along. When numbers of felines in a home reach 7-10 cats you will often have spraying and marking.

I've cleaned up the spot but the feline keeps going back to spray. What else can be done to decrease the issue? Because the "function" of spraying is to mark a location with urine smell, it is not surprising that as the smell is cleaned up, the cat wishes to revitalize the area with more urine. Cleaning alone does little to lower spraying. Felines that mark in a couple of specific locations may cease if the function of the area is altered.

It is not likely that cats will spray in their feeding, sleeping or scratching locations. It has likewise been revealed that cats that mark an area with cheek glands are less likely to mark in other ways such as with urine. In fact it might be stated that felines that use their cheek glands are marking in a more calm, familiar manner while those that urine mark are doing so in a more reactive, anxious way.

An industrial product consisting of artificial facial scent (Feliway) has actually shown to be a reliable method of lowering urine marking in some cats. When sprayed on locations where felines have sprayed urine or on those locations where it can be anticipated that the cat is most likely to spray, it might reduce the probability of additional spraying in those areas.

The aroma of the scent might stimulate cheek gland marking (bunting), rather than urine spraying. It has actually likewise been utilized to calm felines in new environments consisting of the veterinary medical facility and to help familiarize the feline with a brand-new cage or feline provider. 

Are there any drugs that are readily available to treat this issue?

For many years many medicinal methods have actually been tried to manage spraying behaviors. The options have focused on the theory that one of the underlying causes for spraying and marking behaviors is anxiety. Because of that, anti-anxiety drugs have been tried with varying degrees of success.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) has actually been revealed to be extremely efficient in controlling spraying habits, and felines are much less most likely to resume spraying behavior when the drugs are ceased, compared to other behavior-modifying medications. Every cat is different. Some cats respond simply to ecological adjustment with or without the pheromone spray.

The Bottom Line

Some cats meow to let you know precisely how they feel, behavioral changes-- just like other non-verbal actions-- are additional forms of interaction. While staying indoors is much healthier for your kitty in general, if he's spraying, it might be a signal he truly desires you to pick up on. Cats have a lot of evolutionary needs-- such as hunting, marking, roaming, climbing, and hiding-- that aren't typically met when they're kept inside your home. This can result in scratching, urine spraying, aggression, and other unwanted behaviors.

Nevertheless, spraying isn't unusual or unable to be repaired. With the best enrichment tools, you can let your furry friend understand you understand what he's attempting to say and provide an interesting environment he's sure to enjoy! It might seem weird to offer a cat who's scratching your couch a puzzle feeder, however frequently psychological stimulation in one area supplies relief of the habits we, as people, do not like in a totally other area.

Your frisky feline can also be trained to do cool things to not just change behavior, however also tickle his natural interest in satisfying methods. Utilize a remote control to teach him to declare area with more authorized methods, keep him entertained with brand-new techniques, and even encourage him to play fetch!