Tips for Dealing with Urine Spraying in Cats

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Urine spraying in cats can be frustrating and stinky

By Sophia Yin, DVM

If you have cats, especially if you have more than one, chances are that sometime within your lifetime you’ll have to deal with urine-spraying outside the box. Here are some facts you should know:

  • Over 80% of cats that spray urine can be treated successfully.
  • 90% of intact males spray, so if you have an intact male and he’s spraying, the solution is to neuter him.
  • 10% of neutered or spayed cats spray during sometime of their life.
  • Cats normally spray to identify their territory, but they also spray to just identify that they were in a specific location
  • Stress can cause spraying. Look for possibly stressful events or situations such as—spats with other cats, new cats in the neighborhood, or a change in the owner’s schedule when the household cat has an anxious personality.
  • If outdoor cats are the problem, block visual and olfactory access—try the scarecrow outside, block the windows, or get a cat fence to keep cats out.
  • If other household cats are the problem, provide separate food, litter boxes and household areas for them so they don’t have to pass each other and can easily escape from each other’s sight (read Feuding Felines to go over more about what you can do).
  • Clean the urine spray well with an enzymatic cleaner. Check for urine spray on a daily basis using an ultraviolet light.  
  • Keep the litter box sparkling clean. Sometimes just a slightly messy litter box in a stressed cat can throw him over the edge causing him to spray.
  • Get help from a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist. If the issue is due to anxiety, then temporary use of behavioral drugs may be useful.
  • Cats who continue to spray should have a medical workup since any medical disorder affecting the urinary tract or causing agitation or pain can cause spraying in cats. This should be done prior to starting behavioral drugs.

For more information read Urine-Spraying Cats: How To Deal With Kitty 'Graffiti' and Feuding Felines. And stay tuned for my next blog on cats who poop outside the litter box.

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10 responses to “Tips for Dealing with Urine Spraying in Cats

  1. Acceptance will get you far and a good black light and great enzymatic cleaner. I reject the conventional solution to euthanize my 2y spay female cat who sprays almost daily in my home. I have chosen the path of management for now. I have been down the path of trying to figure out her triggers, and you know what she does it because she can. She enjoys it. It is natural cat behavior just like clawing the sofa. If you can manage clawing then you can manage spraying. Spraying is actually less damaging. Hold no resentment-thats the key!

    1. Maureen, what you’ve said is exactly how I feel. We have 3 who don’t use the boxes and we just deal with it and clean up after them. They’re our kids and we love them no matter what.

  2. I was wondering if you could help we have a kitten which is peeing out side the litter and in the bed but no smell .could you tell us what it could be.

  3. I have a spayed female cat that gets completely in the litter box and starts out squatting but then lifts and spays which then goes over the side. It started out occurring only once or twice a month in July but has really increased in frequency this past month. I purchased new, high sided boxes including one storage box. I clean the accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. I use clumping, unscented litter. Boxes get scooped every day. I have 3 cats and 5 litter boxes. She has been checked by my vet for UTI, xrayed and we even did exploratory surgery to make sure there wasn’t a remnant ovary. I also use Feliway. Has anyone ever heard of this behavior? Any suggestions?

    1. I have had two spayed female cats who urinated in this way. I believe it is just a variation of normal behavior. It sounds like you are doing everything right with your litter boxes. I have to tape on an extra strip of plastic to the top of my litterboxes to contain the urine. They are high-sided boxes, but still not tall enough.

    2. Try a calming collar. It has the same pheromones as Feliway but they wear it so no matter where they are it is with them and it is much cheaper. You can get 3 for about $15 and they last a month. I have a male that had the surgery after he blocked to widen his urinary tract and has sprayed ever since. Surgery was done when he was 18 mo. and he will be 14 on Auagat 16th.

  4. One thing I didn’t see in this article is that neutering may not stop this problem. If the cat has been spraying for a long period of time it will become an ingrained behavior and he will continue after being neutered.

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