Inappropriate Urination – What you can do

By Dr. Emily Hoppmann

  • Veterinary exam to rule out contributing physical explanation.
  • Neuter the cat at a young age. If a cat is inappropriately urinating, neuter ASAP if not already neutered.
  • Pull down shades or close blinds to prevent seeing outdoor cats.
  • Consider a motion detector sprinkler or another humane deterrent to dissuade outdoor cats.
  • When unsupervised, confine the cat that is spraying in a part of the house where outdoor cats or cats on other side of a neighbor’s wall can’t be seen, heard, or smelled.
  • If the cat is spraying against new furniture, cover the furniture to protect it.
  • Add a litter box near where cat is spraying.
  • Consider spraying a synthetic pheromone product, such as Feliway® (as directed), where the cat has sprayed.
  • If it’s a ‘cat vs. cat’ situation, seek professional help to advise behavior modification to broker peace.
  • If recommendations aren’t successful, seek professional help; and the use of medications may be indicated.

The specific location where the cat is voiding urine/house soiling

  • Cats who want a litter box higher up/off the ground are sometimes feeling insecure, threatenedand/or generally anxious about other cats (or other pets, even children) in proximity to existing litter boxes.
  • Even if it seems cats are getting along, signaling in cats is hard for owners to pick up on sometimes. Cats may be very clear about daily dislike for one another or offer subtle, yet intimidating cues, only in specific contexts, like surrounding the litter box.
  • Change may cause anxiety; the owners’ work schedule, home construction, a new partner or pet moving in, etc. A cat may choose the owner’s bed over a litter box because it is soft and cushy, offers a secure view, it’s comforting and smells so reassuring.

What you can do

  • Ease anxiety. If a house guest or new partner has moved in, have that person interact positively with the cat, taking over responsibility for feeding and offering treats; and most importantly, play with an interactive cat toy. If the cat is unwilling to interact, it’s best to ignore the cat.
  • When cats are not getting along, offer an abundance of resources to them – most importantly, litter boxes (more is better), as well as toys and scratching posts.
  • Make those areas where the cat is urinating unattractive. Affix double stick tape on the areas it is occurring (cats don’t like to feel stickiness on their paws).
  • Use a plug-in synthetic pheromone, such as Feliway®.
  • Use baby gate (or another barrier) to keep the dog(s) away from the litter box; you can cut a hole in it for the cat to go through or raise the gate so the cat can easily squeeze under.