BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Stop a Cat from Spraying: Understanding the Root Causes for Effective Solutions

A cat in house looking at the camera
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Having a cat that urinates on the floor instead of in the litter box is something, but being a parent to one that sprays all around the house is another ball game entirely. Spraying cats do it everywhere, multiple times in an instant. They get your walls, furniture, laundry, floors, and anywhere else they feel the urge to mark. That is not acceptable behavior, and that is why we have put something together on how to stop a cat from spraying all over the house.

We consulted our in-house authority to ensure that you will get the best and most accurate information on how to stop your spray-happy cat from going on his next rampage. Our methods are non-harmful, effective, and won’t cause the cat to get stressed out. Our aim is to provide a middle ground that helps the both of you achieve a peaceful compromise, so there will be harmony once again as you live under the same roof.

Black and white cat spraying

There are a number of reasons why cats spray, and there are a number of ways to stop them from doing so as well. We have brought all that knowledge together, compacted it, and are releasing it to you in this article. In the end, we believe you will understand all about what goes on in the cat’s mind before he sprays and how to stop your cat from eventually ruining your house.

Why Do Cats Spray?

To stop the problem, you should first know the cause. That would provide a better insight into what approach is best for your cat. Some people think that cats spray as a form of revenge. You go out of town for a while, get back and see your cat spraying. This isn’t true.

No, they didn’t get mad at you for leaving them alone. Yes, they might have been stressed by you not being around, or by an unfamiliar face you might have asked to care for them in your absence, but the last thing that should be on your mind is the thought of that beautiful ball of fur holding a grudge against you.

Image of a cat spraying

So what is the true reason behind a cat’s spraying habit? As we have mentioned earlier, there are a number of reasons why your cat could be spraying around the house. Some of those reasons are:

Communication

Cats prefer to communicate through their actions and body language. It comes more naturally to them than meowing. Believe it or not, cats only meow when they want to communicate with humans, and never among themselves.

A ginger cat looking at the camera

If you have multiple cats at home, you will agree that it is not uncommon to see one cat go to the location where another has sprayed and start to sniff. While you would have to verbally ask your friends before you get relevant information about them such as their age, sex, and the likes, cats can get all that simply by sniffing each other’s urines.

Likewise, spraying can be used to communicate the sexual availability of one cat to the opposite sex. As such, this kind of spraying often occurs when it is the mating season.

Territoriality

When your cat is feeling territorial, they tend to spray. Spraying in this sense is in a bid to mark their ‘kingdom’ to warn off erring ‘trespassers.’ In the human world, this kind of spraying can be likened to building a wall around/ fixing a gate in your house in a bid to keep people out. Of course, your cat knows that you love him, but his instinct makes him want to defend his living area from other cats that might want to intrude on that privacy.

A big cat sitting in the sun and looking at something

When you get a new cat in the house, and your old cat starts to spray, this could be the reason why. Also, the presence of stray cats in the area can feel like a threat to your cat. To this, the cat will respond by spraying areas around the house that can be frequented by the strays (such as your windows, outer walls, etc.)

Environment Change

So, you want to move to a new neighborhood or rearrange the furniture in the house, and your cat was not consulted. Well, your cat will let you know his displeasure by spraying all over the place.

white cat with grey spots

That is not an act of rebellion. It is just that they are now somewhere they are not used to, so they feel the need to mark their abode before someone else comes to lay claim. In the cat world, see this as the equivalent of calling dibs.

Scenting

One funny reason why cats spray is because they want to recognize their own scents. They will usually do this kind of spraying around the house in no particular fashion.

Marking

When you buy a new car, you put license plates on it. When cats see you bring new materials/ boxes/ furniture etc. into the house, the cat would like to put his own license plates on it too—by spraying.

A cat laying down in house and naping

That is their way of identifying with new stuff that will be sharing space with them. Also, it helps them ‘know’ that it ‘belongs’ to them (even though it really belongs to you).

Unclean Litter

If your cat’s litter box is not properly or regularly cleaned, he might not want to use it. Since his bodily functions must go on, you may find such a cat spraying all around your house. This is one of those cases where the fault lies with you. You should do all you can to get the issue fixed before your cat gets used to peeing outside the box.

Infections

Your cat might not be spraying for any of the above reasons. He may be suffering from a urinary tract/bladder infection instead. All meows sound largely the same, so you may be none the wiser if your cat tries to tell you about their medical problem.

Persian cat-with-vet

However, they know when they mess up the place, you will be concerned enough to find out what’s wrong. Then, spray they will.

How to Get Your Cat to Stop Spraying

We have arrived at the core of the article—the one you’ve been waiting for—how to get your cat to stop spraying. While the solution may differ depending on the cause and each cat’s individual condition or personality, there are some golden rules you must follow:

Don’t Get Mad

The first step is to calm yourself so that you wouldn’t get mad at your cat. Human beings have a fight or flight response that they almost cannot control. Take spraying to be the same for your cat.

scared-cat making big eyes

Getting angry at the cat might make him feel more insecure—increasing the likelihood of spraying all the more. That is not to mention the possible severance of the bond between you two. Rather than letting emotions get the better of you, keep a cool head and try to understand better what’s going on with your cat.

Identify the Cause of the Problem

To move forward, you need to identify the root of the problem in the cat. However, with all these different causes of spraying in cats, you will agree that the cat parent has a lot of work to do when determining what the issue with their feline is. That means we cannot just give you one almighty formula to apply in treating this problem.

A cat laying down and looking at the owner

If the cause is clear—such as the presence of a new cat in the house or environment change—then devising a countermeasure is way easier. On the other hand, if you are unsure of what the cause is, we advise that you take the shotgun approach—treating every possible cause and eliminating those that don’t pan out until you get to the base of the problem. This then takes us to the next point on this list.

Apply Targeted Treatment/Therapy

When you have determined what causes your cat to spray, it is time to apply the kind of treatment/therapy that will help them get rid of their anxiety/concern/health issue or whatever it is. Some of the treatment methods include:

Method #1: Keep Neighborhood Cats Away

If your cat is being threatened by the appearance of some outdoor cats in the neighborhood, try your best to keep them away. Place some deterrents around the house to prevent them from coming around, especially if you don’t have a fence.

A cat walking on a wall

If there are some particular windows in the house from whence your cat sees those other cats, pull down the drapes. That would help you mentally dissociate your cat from the perceived threat, giving him more peace of mind and of course, allowing them to stop with the spraying.

Method #2: Neuter/Spay

This one is closely related to many misconceptions about cats. First, if you have been entertaining thoughts about how it is only the male cats that spray, now is the time to trash such thoughts. Any type of cat, male or female, will spray when something is off. Therefore, rather than just neutering male cats, you may need to spay female cats as well.

Image of a male cat at the vet

Another misconception is that neutering/spaying will stop the spraying completely. This isn’t true. Sometimes, even neutered and spayed cats spray. What is true is that the chances are reduced in them. That is because they don’t feel the need to communicate their sexual availability to neighborhood cats. If you’ve just gotten a new cat, you should consider getting them neutered or spayed.

Method #3: See a Vet

We can’t rule out medical reasons as a root cause of the spraying. Go see a vet as soon as you can. That will help you to either rule out or confirm the presence of an underlying infection in their urinary tract. The earlier you get such a problem diagnosed, the better—not just for the spraying problem, but for the overall health of your cat.

Method #4: Gentle Introductions

If your dream is to live in a household with multiple cats, gently introducing the cats to one another gradually will help them come to terms with each other faster. Get them accustomed to each other’s scents, socialize them with each other and other members of the family—everything in the book.

two cats meeting for the first time

In short, make them feel so at home, they don’t feel anyone or anything around is a threat to their existence

Method #5: Give the Cats Independence

Following the point above, if your multi-cat household still has a regularly spraying cat, it might be time to make each cat independent of the other. That means giving each cat their own litter box, sleeping area, feeding area, and all.

A cat in house laying on the floor

Unlike dogs, cat aggression can be as subtle as a dangerous stare from the other cat—unsettling the victim of such harassment/ bullying. It is very hard to spot, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, get to work on making sure each cat has all their needs fulfilled without having to share with the other.

Method #6: Clean Litter Boxes

Those that have been very observant of their cats will agree that these creatures are very clean by nature. They have a level of personal hygiene that even humans should want to emulate. If you leave their litter boxes dirty, they will find somewhere else to do their business. When you see that happen, don’t think your feline has gone haywire. Rather, it is a reminder to go clean out the litter box.

Method #7: Keep Things Routine

Sudden changes in the environment, habits, objects, and the likes will most likely cause your cat to spray. You can switch things up one bit by working them into a routine so gentle yet tight that they don’t have the time to get stressed out.

A gray cat looking at something while she is in the yard

Feed the cat at the same time(s) every day. Put their supplies (litter, furniture, food boxes, etc.) in the usual locations. Play with them at certain times of the day. Create time for an activity with them (such as grooming and petting, etc.). You’ll find that your cat is concentrating more and more on following the daily routine—so much that they don’t have the time to let stress get to them.

Wrap Up

As an added tip, make sure you properly clean up the area(s) the cat has already marked with their urine. While you could have truly eliminated the root cause of the problem, your cat is likely to spray in those areas again if they are yet to be cleaned properly. If the spot still smells faintly like urine, your cat will be tempted to mark it again.

Beautiful ginger cat playing outside in the yard

How long have you been dealing with your cat’s spraying problem? Have you managed to curb it or does it still continue to this day? Don’t hesitate to share any stories of past experience or tips and tricks with us in the comments section below!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

Leave a Comment

0
0
Total
0
Shares