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Cat urine marking around the house
Urine marking is one of the biggest behavioral problems that nearly every cat owner will have to face at least once during their cat’s stay. Nearly 10% of all cats will urine mark inside the house, out of their litter box at least once in their lifetime. While many people believe that this is due to a problem with the litter box, this is not always the case.
Since cats cannot communicate verbally with humans and other cats, they depend on other modes of communication; the most famous means is the scent. The scent is possibly the most important form of communication between cats as they are able to determine boundaries, and set territories with the help of their scent.
Why do cats urine mark?
One of the primary forms of spreading their odor is by rubbing their heads against a certain surface. Thanks to scent-producing glands on their paws, cheeks, and flanks, they are essentially able to mark their territory, without resorting to other means.
Although cats produce a certain odor by gently rubbing and scratching most of the time, they can, at times, use their urine to mark their territory. As felines are incredibly territorial creatures, it may not come to you as a surprise that even house cats may mark their house by eliminating.
Establishing the reason
So, if you happen to find yourself with a cat, or worse cats, that urinate outside of their litter box, here is a comprehensive guide on why they are urinating and what you can do to stop it. But before we can move onto the meat and bones of the guide, it is first important for you to identify the marking that your cat is doing around the house.
Types of Urine Marking
While seeming essentially the same at first, both of these marking techniques are different.
Let’s start with urinating. A cat always urinates on a horizontal surface, such as floors, countertops, and even on top of sofas. The volume of urine when your cat is eliminating is a lot, and it can have a strong (but not very pungent) smell.
Urinating can often mean that the cat is having medical issues or that it is stressed under the current living conditions or circumstances. Urination does not only affect a particular gender in cats, as both male and female felines can urinate out of their box.
Cats Urine Marking In The House
Now we will move onto spraying; spraying is similar to urinating except it has some key differences. Unlike urination, spraying has a much more pungent smell, which is its biggest differentiator. When spraying cats release less urine, it makes cleaning up the area a lot less tedious.
The most important difference between the two is that spraying is done on vertical surfaces, like walls and other household items.
Why Do Cats Urine Mark Inside?
Moving onto what is possibly the most important part of this guide, why do cats urine mark in the first place? There is a multitude of different reasons why your cat is urine marking; so, let us start by naming a few important ones.
Here are ten very common reasons why cats urine mark, both spraying and urinating:
Stress is possibly the most common reason why cats resort to spraying and urinating around the house. While the reasons behind their stress can vary greatly, their response is often very similar. Cats are creatures of habit and are very territorial; this means that the slightest of change to their routine or surroundings can lead to stress.
Stress is a very serious issue in cats, and should always be taken seriously.
If you have yet to spay or neuter your cat, then this may contribute to spraying and urinating behavior. Not spaying or neutering your cat can lead to a slew of medical and behavioral issues, especially in male cats.
Your cat may be spraying in the house to attract potential mates or maybe doing it due to a hormonal outburst. Male cats are especially infamous for having behavioral issues due to hormonal outbursts. It means there is a possibility that your cat is spraying and urinating around the house.
If your cat is still spraying and urinating inside the house after being spayed or neutered then it is possible that they are still urinating because of medical issues. It is very common for cats with diseases like kidney stones, urinary tract infections, liver disease, or even kidney stones.
Urination out of the litter box is a common symptom of urinary tract infections and kidney stones. It is a cause for concern if your cat stops using their litter box or spends a lot of time trying to urinate.
Another symptom of this disease would be that cats will sometimes spend a lot of time licking their genitals in hopes of urinating properly.
Recognizing Their Scents
Sometimes cats will spray or urinate inside the house to recognize their own scent. This is often done by cats that come to a house for the first time and mark their territory to feel safe. It is very rare and most cats do not resort to this behavior until they feel it is absolutely necessary.
One of the most obvious reasons cats urinate or spray inside the house is to create boundaries. As established before, cats are incredibly territorial creatures and will always mark their boundaries with scents.
Experts often refer to it as the feline version of drawing lines in the sand, especially in the case of house cats. House cats may also spray in the house if there is a guest or an unfamiliar face. Moreover, as cats are territorial, they rely on the pungent smell of their spraying to send a clear message.
New Objects in the House
Cats can, at times, spray or urinate on new objects in the house. It is, of course, to mark the object as their own or to essentially add the object to their territory. This is not the case with all cats, but it is still common enough for you to be careful.
Cats often spray or urinate on a new object in the house; in many cases, it is furniture, as it smells very different from other objects. However, this is a very rare case in cats that are incredibly overprotective, yet this is something that you must take into account.
Cats are not only incredibly territorial but they are also sensitive to small changes in their surroundings; this includes the changes outside your house as well. Neighborhood cats can, at times, be the reason why your cat is stressed or has become so territorial.
Neighborhood cats can at times leave their own marks on your house, which further induces stress in your felines. Since your cats cannot leave out and follow them, they will have to settle by marking their own territory.
If you live in a suburb, then it is all the more likely that your cat is spraying simply because of the cats outside.
Bonding or Combining Scents
If you find your cat or have found your cat spraying on some of your belongings or objects that you use daily, it is to mix your scent with their own. This is more of a harmless bonding exercise that they do to feel more comfortable with their owners.
This is also rarely the case and is most common in cats that come into a new house. So, if your cat is spraying on your belongings, then it is possible that this is temporary.
If your cat is exhibiting this urine marking behavior in a multi-cat household, then it is very likely due to the inter-cat competition. Inter-cat competition in a house with multiple cats is very common and is, at times, inevitable.
If a cat in a multi-cat household feels threatened, stressed, or anxious, they will resort to spraying to set boundaries. Catfights can, at times, get bloody; so, instead of battling each other cats tend to settle disputes by setting boundaries.
Many experts also believe that the smell spraying produces can completely stop a dispute.
Changes in the House
Finally, changes in your household will most likely cause your cat to spray across the house. Regardless of the size of the change, your cat may be negatively affected by the change. It means that you will have to think twice and take certain steps before making changes to your house.
Things like introducing new kittens or new members of your family may threaten your cat. Hence it will result in them spraying around the house.
How To Stop Urine Marking Everywhere
Now let’s talk about the solution; how can you stop this? Stopping your cat from urinating and spraying inside your house may at times feel like an impossible task. That said, there are efforts that you can make to change your cat’s behavior before going to a behavioral expert.
Here are ten things you can do to stop or reduce urine marking:
Spay or Neuter Your Cats
As mentioned previously, it is possible that the reason why your cat is urine marking is due to their urge to mate. Or they are urine marking due to behavioral issues caused by hormonal outbursts. So, the best thing that you can do in this situation is to neuter or spay your cat(s).
Spaying or neutering your cat is possibly one of the most important surgeries to keep your cat healthy. If your cat stays intact you may experience serious behavioral problems, or worse, your cats may experience excruciating pain and be more susceptible to disease.
Close Contact With Outdoor Cats
Since it is very likely that your cat is spraying due to the presence of suburban cats outside your house, you can reduce this behavior by simply cutting off contact with them.
First, you will have to place safe deterrents in your lawn and around your house to keep the neighborhood cats away. Be sure to place the deterrents far enough from your house so that they do not hurt the cats inside.
Place blockades on doors and cover your windows so the cats inside your home do not see them.
Once you feel that the cats are gone, you can remove the blockades and uncover the windows.
Provide More Resources
To solve competition in multi-cat households, you can do something as simple as providing all of the cats with equal resources. Give all your cats different food bowls and place them separate from each other. Offer your cats a lot more versatility in terms of heights, perch points, and playing space.
You can also place more litter boxes in rooms where they have at least two ways to exit. You can also place more litter boxes in rooms with at least two ways to exit. Reduce the risk of this kind of behavior by providing your cats with more toys and scratching posts so they won’t have to come in contact with each other.
Spend More Time With Your Cats
While cats spray inside their house due to a medical issue, behavioral issue, or some combination of both, it is also possible that your cat is resorting to this behavior to get your attention. If you are not spending enough time with your cats, then it is likely that they are urine marking just to get your attention.
This particular issue has a simple solution, and that is you spend more time with your cats individually. Whether it be through clicker training, playing, or grooming, as long as you are engaging with them they will probably stop their disruptive behavior.
Clean The Litter Box At Least Once A Day
Another thing that you can do to discourage urine marking in your house is to clean your cat’s litter box at least once a day. Often, cats will urinate outside of their litter box because of it not being clean.
The best course of action for you is to clean your cat’s litter box at least once a day to avoid them eliminating in the house. Moreover, you will have to ensure that urinating outside the litter box does not become a habit, which means you will have to punctually clean their litter box.
One of the most common reasons for a cat’s disruptive behavior is due to the presence of a new cat or kitten. A new kitten or cat in your present cat’s territory is a big change. Hence, you should take steps to make this introduction as seamless as possible.
So, instead of simply dropping a new cat or kitten in front of your precious four-legged friend, expose your cat to their new friend in short bursts over the course of a month or two. This makes the adjustment process a lot easier for both new and old cats. This will help the cats develop a strong relationship and make it less likely for them to be violent against each other.
Use Synthetic Cat Pheromones
If your cat has already stained your walls or floors, you will still need to clean it to avoid other cats in your home from becoming anxious and possibly starting a chain reaction. So, in order to calm the culprit and the rest of your cats, you will have to use a dedicated enzyme cleaner. An enzyme cleaner is able to clean and reduce the smell of your cat’s elimination.
Once you clean the affected area, you should use synthetic cat pheromones to calm the culprit. The synthetic pheromones will likely change the mental connection that your cats have with that specific area, making them a lot more comfortable.
Change Mental Connections
speaking of changing mental connections to the affected area, there are other ways of doing so instead of using synthetic cat pheromones. Once you are done cleaning the affected area, you should indulge with your cat there.
This means you can play with them, groom them, or even do some clicker training, anything that will help them calm down in the previously affected area. Although this is an incredibly time taking process, it is well worth it in the long run as it can help your cat feel a lot more comfortable in every part of your house.
Use of Medication
If the spraying and urinating are going beyond what you were anticipating, and none of your techniques seem to be working, you may have to try medication. This is an ultimatum if all of the aforementioned techniques, changes, and remedies do not make a difference. With professional advice from a veterinarian, you can give your cat medication to help keep them calm or help with their medical issues.
What You Should Avoid
A common technique that most pet owners implement on their pets as a result of bad behavior is negative reinforcement. Actions like yelling at your cat, hitting them, or rubbing their noses in their messes are different forms of negative reinforcement. You should never do this to your cat under any circumstance.
Negative reinforcement is not a good countermeasure for animals as sensitive as cats. If you resort to using negative reinforcement to punish your cats, they may not respond in ways that you expect. This is especially the case when it comes to urine marking.
As established before, Urine marking is often not even a voluntary or purposeful response to situations. Cats will urinate when under stress or when threatened, so negative reinforcement in situations like these is not good for your relationship with your cat. Not only your relationship with your cat will be at risk, but there is no guarantee that they will stop their behavior.
So, in order to really stop your cat from their behavior, it is important for you to identify the problem and then take steps accordingly to help them.
Urine marking is a serious issue in cats that can start off small but can turn into a bad habit. In other words, the first time your cat sprays or urinates out of their litter box you will have to take action immediately.
Although all these techniques are effective ways to stop your cat from urine marking again, they only apply to specific situations. So, the best course of action when you first see such behavior is to go to a veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to remove any suspicion of an illness or disease.
When there is no longer a suspicion of a disease or illness, you can then move on to the aforementioned exercises and practices to stop their behavior. It is important for you to understand that there is a reason why your cat is resorting to this behavior, and it is up to you to find what it is.
Whether it is a lack of attention to their presence or necessities, stress, or even a sense of fear, you will have to identify the problem and work it out with them. Only then can you truly rid of their bad habit of urine marking.