When a new cat is introduced into a new home there are two major concerns that worry people the most: the scratching and the urine marking. These are usually the two major reasons why cat owners decide to give up the cat’s housing living privileges and hand them over to a shelter.
While scratching has a more physiological cause, cat urinating is a more ambiguous manifestation. It can be behavioral, psychological or health related.
Surprisingly for owners, the belief that spraying just for the purpose of making them mad is the only possible cause that can be totally ruled out.
Most owners are not aware that there are differences between inappropriate urination (urinating in places other than the litter box) and spraying.
Inappropriate urination occurs when the cat urinates normally but this occurs on rugs, furniture, blankets. Spraying occurs when the cat actually squirts urine on a wall or other vertical object.
Spraying is considered a normal behavior among cats. You can observe this routinely in alley cats. A tom cat will walk, shiver its tail and squirt some urine on a wall. This is they way cats communicate and delimitate their territory.
Un-neutered males are prone to spraying when there is a female cat in heat nearby. Their urine has a typical strong smell that may appear very offensive to most owners.
Female cats may urinate as well when in heat.
Stress is another triggering factor, if your cat started urinating inappropriately recently, analyze carefully if there were any sudden life changes that could have altered your pet’s sense of security. A recent move, a new pet, new furniture, a baby, can be common stress triggers.
A dirty litter box may make a cat turn its nose away and go for your favorite rug.
Just as you think a litter box is stinky so does your cat. Cats are very clean by nature, in an outdoor environment they would urinate and defecate in different spots to prevent odor accumulation.
Litter box location is vital, if located in a busy spot the cat may not feel comfortable and look for quieter spots.
More often than not urinating around the house is related to a physical problem. Urinary tract infections , a bout of cystitis, kidney disease or the presence of stones and crystals in the urinary tract are often confused for behavioral urination. Also cats that have pain may be reluctant to move about and may urinate out of the litter box.
These are the most common causes of spraying and inappropriate urination. Treatments depend on causes.
Ways to Reduce Urination Issues
- Tom cats need to be neutered, females need to be spayed. There is a good 90% success rate of eliminating the problem after surgery when spraying is related to hormones.
- Always offer a clean litter box, some people keep two if they are away for a long time during the day. Place the litter box in a quiet spot where there is not much noise or traffic.
A closet or bathroom are ideal.
- Use carpet cleaners with enzymes to cover previous urine accidents. If the cat perceives he/she has urinated in a particular spot before, he/she will likely urinate in the same spot again.
- If you believe the urination is stress related try to buy a plug in product that releases pheromones such as Feliway. Your vet may prescribe a tranquilizer in most severe cases.
- If your cat is territorial it may spray near doors or windows because it may see or smell other cats nearby. Try to limit access to doors and windows as much as possible.
A vet visit should be the primarily starting point for any cat that has started to urinate inappropriately. Only after health concerns have been ruled out then all the other possibilities should be considered as possibilities.