Cat Spraying or Urinating Outside the Litterbox

Cat Spraying or Urinating outside the litter box? There is a difference between spraying and urinating!

By Claude West “Cat Man”

cat spraying or urinating, outside the litterbox

Cat Spraying

Is your cat spraying the furniture, walls or windows?  You are not alone when it comes to the issue of how to stop a cat from spraying, period!

Cat spraying is the number one reason a person takes a cat in to see the vet.  This is the main reason the owner gets rid of the cat.  There are some common steps recommended by the experts to start changing the cat’s behavior.

The number one reason cited by the experts is failure to get your cat neutered or spayed.  Cats with intact sex glands always spray or mark to alert the opposite sex that they are ready for mating.

Cat spraying or urinating?

You must also determine if the problem is just urinating outside the litter box or marking by spraying.  There is a difference!  Note that urinating problems are usually an indication of a medical condition.  Where cat spraying  or marking is a combination of medical and behavioral problems.

Steps to take on cat spraying or urinating:

  • Determine first that there are no organic issues by taking your cat to the veterinarian.  Even if you went recently or in the past with the same problem of spraying.  You should allow the vet several opportunities to screen and rule out disease.  There may be other issues treatable with medication or surgery.
  • Many diseases and disorders will cause cat stress.  This will lead to having physical problems urinating.  Because so many medical conditions can cause spraying.  Your veterinarian will need to keep ruling out those possibilities through examination and testing.

The problem can be stress related!

  • Litter box issues can also cause stress.  Causing the cat to urinate outside the box even though it has no medical condition.  If you have a multi-cat household then this is likely to occur.  Cats need their own litter box.   They also feel that all of them are theirs.  So you begin having territorial issues related to litter boxes.  Always have at least one more box than number of cats in the house.
  • If there are target areas your cats are spraying, consider placing the litter box near there.  Check after several days to see if kitty is using the box or spraying.  Eventually you want the boxes spread out in such a way that the cats can claim a primary box as theirs.  Having all your boxes in one location or expecting cats to use the same box may be the cause for them to start spraying

The weirding way with cats:

Behavioral problems occur when your cat feels another cat or human threatens its territory.  Cats are weird in this respect.  It pays to understand that your cat can change from using its litter box to spraying overnight.

Here are some comments the experts agree on:

  • If your cat is spraying doors and windows.  Then it is likely that there is another cat in its territory and your cat it trying to make the invader aware of this by spraying.  What you may not have considered is the other cat had sprayed the window or door from the other side or the same side in a multi-cat household.
  • Many households have indoor/outdoor cats by using pet doors to allow access to outside.  There is a video on YouTube that shows why pet doors can be a problem.  A camera was set up to see who is spraying a car parked in the garage every night.  The individual owns a dog and no cats so this was an interesting turn of events.  Turns out that eight neighborhood cats came into the garage to spray his car.  There are locking devices on newer pet doors that has a microchip you place in the cat’s collar that will activate the door to allow your cat access.
  • Some cats have an attitude by nature and they begin to expect that you are there only to serve them and use spraying as a means of claiming the house and you as theirs.  This is the most common reason a cat begins spraying regardless of sex.  This cat will also start spraying if you have company staying or construction making rooms unavailable to kitty.  Possessive cats refuse to have their routines disrupted and spraying is a mechanism that expresses their displeasure to you.

So what can you do to stop cat spraying?

None of the experts offered immediate cures or methods to change a cat’s behavior quickly.  Most recommend spending more time with the cat to develop bonding.  Try to eliminate all areas kitty is spraying with special cleaners that break down the urine.

Regular cleaners may make it worse.  They will spread the urine rather than breaking it down.  Half vinegar and water works well in breaking down cat urine followed with enzymes to eliminate the urine.

An animal behaviorist or animal communicator that specializes in cats will help identify the reasons for spraying.   Usually can provide you with steps to correct this behavior.  They run several hundred dollars per session.  This may be the least expensive alternative if kitty is ruining your rugs and furniture.

Steve Dale has a great video interview with a behavior expert Dr. Hodgkins:

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