Urine spray-marking is one of the major reasons why cats get put out on the street or sent to shelters. And unfortunately, many cat owners have been told that spray-marking is an unsolvable issue. But in the real sense, this behavior issue is one of the easiest to solve.
Once you identify the reason for this behavior and eliminate it, urine marking can stop. It may sound too good to be true, but when you take out the reason for spray-marking, it shouldn’t happen, ever. It’s as simple as that!
What is urine spray-marking?
Spray-marking is a behavior whereby cats stand upright and spray a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces. It is quite different from urinating, which entails squatting and eliminating large amounts of urine on horizontal surfaces.
Many medical conditions can cause your cat to urinate outside their litter box, including urinary tract stones or crystals, kidney failure, arthritis, and diabetes.
What causes spraying?
Apart from the medical conditions, cats spray-mark for the following reasons:
Marking their Turf
As cats approach the age of social maturity (between 2 to 4 years), they tend to use urine to mark territory that’s important to them. Although they get along quite well at a tender age, and they house-soil by squatting and depositing urine on horizontal surfaces.
But as they grow older, cats tend to urine-mark on both vertical and horizontal surfaces. However, the male cats are typical culprits, but the neutered cats of either sex can baptize the anyhow they want.
Cats love routines and any slight changes in their environment can make them react badly. This can range from welcoming a new baby or pet in the house to a strange cat in the backyard, or a caretaker’s absence. Many more environmental factors can induce stress in cats and make them urine-mark.
Stressful conditions make cats feel anxious, and a good way for them to ward off their anxiety is to mark their territory. This leaves their urine scent emphasizing the fact that they’re stressed.
When stray cats go into heat during the springtime, the sound and scent prompt the indoor cats to feel more stressed, hence, increasing their territorial marking.
Introducing a new cat to the house
You need to give your resident cat a lot of time to adjust if you’re considering adopting a new cat into your house. The new cat too must have a separate room for it to adjust to the new environment, and your resident cat gets to know them through a baby gate or door. However, do not try to make both cats share the same litter box.
Urine spray-marking is common among those who have not been neutered or spayed. So, it is important to take care of that by five months of age, before the problem starts to surface.
If you adopt a cat and discovered that they’ve not been neutered, it is better to get them fixed in time. When your cat is neutered, they hardly have marking issues, even if they’d been doing it for some time. But the bad part is that the longer you delay, the more the behavior gets ingrained in your cat.
How you can stop your cat from urine spray-marking
You can adopt some measures to stop your cat from urine-marking, including:
Eliminate odor and change the association
Clean all the soil areas or regions where you cat urine marks with an odor neutralizer product. A black light makes urine glow, thereby making it easy for you to see the soiled areas.
You can also add food-safe fluorescent dye to your cat’s food. And when they urinate, the dye will glow as you hold a black light over it. This exposes the soiled areas for easy cleaning.
When you clean thoroughly, it eliminates the odor that draws your cat back to the spot and the scent of the action. You can use bleach or ammonia as well, but the goal is to remove the odor to keep the cat from going back there again.
After cleaning, you need to change the association of the place by placing a cat bed, toys, or food blows on the spot. This way, your cat would not want to spray where they eat, sleep, or play.
Using rescue remedy or Feliway
If you have cats that have reached the age of social maturity, they tend to jostle for position within the household. Hence, you can use the rescue remedy or introduce the Feliway synthetic pheromone to give signals to your cat that their environment is safe.
You can isolate one cat at a time to see if they stop the habit of urine-marking while in isolation. Although this method is not well-established, the concept is to tackle stress because if the urine-marking behavior is induced by stress, isolating them from the source of the stress may stop the behavior.
Provide another litter box
You may need to coddle twice as much if you have multiple cats. Offer your cats at least one litter box each, and space these boxes in different parts of the house. More so, ensure that the boxes are extra big, as some cats love to have enough space to maneuver.
Also, provide resting places and scratching objects for each cat in different parts of your house. When you have extra vertical space, cats tend to climb just to get away from each other, while they own their individual resting spot.
You can also provide single-cat shelves, which keeps cats from having to share space.
Try to provide corrugated cardboard scratchers or cat scratching posts in the areas where the spray-marking is taking place. This provides a good alternative for cats to mark their territory instead of using urine.
The provided board or post help promote claw marking, which discourages the urine marking behavior. You can sprinkle cat nip on the scratching posts to entice the clawing behavior of your cat.
Promote body rolling
Another good alternative to urine-marking is body rolling. This involves sprinkling dried catnip in the urine spray-marked region to encourage body-rolling behavior in your cat.
Cats can also mark their territory by body rolling in the location they intend to mark. This behavior replaces the urine marking behavior.
Deter outside cats
When you disallow outside cats of any sort (feral, stray, or neighborhood cats) from coming close to your cat to the extent that they see them or have to smell them, it helps to stop the act of spray-marking.
You can use motion sensor cat deterrents to block some windows in your house to prevent your cat from seeing outside cats. Some cat owners use wax paper on certain windows to block their cats view all the way across the streets.
Urine spray-marking is a natural response of cats to environmental circumstances surrounding them, so don’t think they are trying to spite you when they urinate outside the box.
More so, some conditions like kidney disease may cause increased volume of urine that may be tough for your cat to reach out to the box in time.
You can consult your vet if the urine spray-marking persists after trying all the measures above.