Cats – interesting creatures who tolerate us living in their humble abode. At least that’s what their indifference can sometimes feel like. But, lately, you’ve noticed Shadow, your kitty landlord, is urinating around the house and not in the well-kept litter box you graciously provided for them! Frustrating as this is, chances are, Shadow is urine marking.

What is urine marking?
Urine marking, also known as spraying, is a form of communication for cats. Unlike when a cat pees to relieve him/herself, where the act is often done on a horizontal surface in a squatting method, urine marking is done on a vertical surface with a wagging looking tail.

Often when done in your home, urine marking is an indicator of something going on with your cat.

Why do cats do it?
There isn’t one specific reason cats – both male and female – spray. However, some of the more common ones include:

  • Indicating to other cats that they are in the area, potentially avoiding a cat conflict,
  • Showcasing their reproductive status if they’re looking for a mate, or
  • Displaying signs of distress, whether that’s because other animals are in or around the home, you have a new addition to your home, such as a baby, or you have actually moved to a new home.

Do they grow out of it?
The most straightforward answer is no, it won’t stop naturally. However, there are things you can do to discourage them from spraying.

  • Vet visit

If it’s been a bit since your last checkup, visit the vet to rule out any health issues that may be causing the marking, particularly if it’s increased in frequency.

  • Look at neutering or spaying

Neutering or spaying cats has proven to reduce, if not cease marking. It is important to know that, depending on when this surgery is done, such as after sexual maturity, spraying may be habitual. You then need to discourage the habit of spraying.

  • Environment changes
Determine what is actually causing them to spray! Have there been any changes in their environment, such as the introduction of another cat, dog, or other animal in the house? Are there new people in the house and now your routine is different? Perhaps there’s a new kitty on the block whose owners give it free range around the block? Whatever it is, you should understand the cause behind the spray before you can fully treat the behaviour.

  • Proactively discourage spraying
If you know that your environment will be changing, do so as gradually as possible to prepare your cat.

For instance, is a new person’s moving in? Have them meet the cat a few times prior to moving in. Other alternatives could be getting them to participate in feeding the cat to build the cat’s comfort with this individual.

If there’s a new cat in their space? Perhaps have a little extra one-on-one play time with Shadow before the new cat arrives, when the new cat arrives, and so on. A little extra attention can go a long way for lowering Shadow’s stress levels. And, make sure that you have separate litter boxes for each cat!

  • No nose rubbing
Do not, we repeat DO NOT, rub their nose in their urine (this goes both for spraying or actual elimination out of the litter box). This will not discourage any type of marking and can actually increase the level of stress in your cat. Not to mention this can harm your relationship with them.

  • Food and water location
Clean the area where they typically spray and then put their food or water near there. Thoroughly cleaning the area with an enzymatic cleaner will help remove their scent. Then, by placing either their food, water, or both near the area, they’ll be discouraged from spraying there as cats do not like eliminating where they eat and drink.

Have you tried a number of these items and they’re still spraying? Not sure where to start with your own cat and their spraying habits? Contact us at Happy Paws Veterinary Clinic. Helping you make your cat’s life (and yours) more enjoyable is what we love to do!