Help! My cat pees in the house! Now what?
Spraying is normal sexual behaviour in uncastrated male cats. After castration, the spraying behaviour nearly always stops. Spraying behaviour due to stress occurs in both male and female cats, and in both castrated and uncastrated animals. Aside from this natural spraying behaviour, cats may also display abnormal urinating behaviour. Abnormal urinating behaviour in cats can occur due to medical causes or behavioural issues. Medical causes include kidney problems, diabetes or a bladder infection. In this article, we will mainly deal with urinating in the house as a behavioural problem. Before dealing with the possible causes of indoor spraying and urination, we would urge you to contact your veterinarian if you suspect that a medical condition is causing your cat to pee in the house. If you notice that your male cat cannot pee or is constantly straining, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible! This is always an emergency!
Causes of abnormal spraying or urinating behaviour
Spraying and urination-related behavioural problems can largely be put down to two causes:
- The cat sprays or urinates in the house due to all kinds of different stress factors
- The cat has a litter tray aversion.
Urinating or spraying due to stress
There are many different factors that can lead to stress in cats and to related urination and spraying in the house. Cats can start spraying anywhere in the house, such as against walls, window frames or doors. The following factors often play a role in this:
- The cat sprays after moving house or after construction work that significantly changes the cat’s home environment.
- Tensions between cats in a household where several animals have to live together or where cats have to live with dogs. The introduction of a new animal within an existing group can also lead to a lot of tension and/or aggression. It is very important that there is plenty of care available to your cat, in the form of places to eat, drink, rest, shelter and use the litter tray.
- The owner goes on holiday, cat stays in a cattery.
- A change in the family situation, such as the birth of a new baby.
- A “strange” cat walking past the windows or even getting in through an open cat flap. In this situation, a cat often sprays against curtains, door posts or window frames.
- A change in the owner’s routine
To prevent these problems, it is important that you avoid stress in your cats and deal with the underlying causes of stress.
Spraying or urinating in the house can be overcome with training. It is very important that you never punish your cat for this behaviour! Punishment may lead to your cat feeling even more unsafe or insecure, which will actually increase the unwanted behaviour. Repellents like aluminium foil or pepper often only lead to your cat finding another place to pee or spray.
When cats rub their heads along various objects in the house, it effectively marks its territory with pheromones. This makes the cat feel safe and secure. In the event of stress or discomfort, the cat will stop this behaviour, making it even more stressed or uncomfortable. This may lead to behavioural problems, such as peeing or spraying in the house. Feliway contains a copy of the natural pheromone that gives cats a safe feeling. In the event of abnormal spraying behaviour, the Feliway Classic can be an effective product. By using the Feliway Classic, you can create a safe and familiar environment for your cat in a natural way, which can lead to the unwanted behaviour being overcome fully or partially. In order to reduce tensions between cats, you can use the specially developed Feliway Friends Diffuser.
Litter tray aversion
There can be various reasons why cats may not like to use the litter tray. These animals can have very specific preferences as to where they do and do not want to urinate. Here is a list of factors that a cat owner might take into account in order to prevent their cat from peeing in the house:
- The number of litter trays. It is recommended that you have as many litter trays as the number of cats in your house plus one, especially if they are indoor cats.
- The type of litter tray. There are closed litter trays (with or without a flap) and open litter trays, such as Peewee or Vicci. In closed litter trays, bad odours can linger, which may lead to a litter tray aversion in your cat. In addition, (in households with several cats) submissive cats cannot see dominant cats coming when they are in a closed litter tray, which may lead them to refuse to use it. These cats will prefer to urinate in an open area, such as on a rug or on a bed. Sometimes a closed litter tray can also lead to bullying, like cats tapping the lid when another cat is using the litter tray. The latter cat will be startled by this and avoid the litter tray.
- Older cats or cats with joint problems may struggle to get into the litter tray, in which case you should choose a litter tray with a lower entry point.
- Cats can be very picky when it comes to litter. There are numerous types and variants available on the market and it is just a question of trying to find the litter that your cat likes best.
- The tray must be 1.5 times the size of the cat that the tray is intended for, meaning it can turn around in the litter tray without any problems.
- Place the litter tray in a quiet area. Cats are more easily bothered by noise near the litter tray, such as the sound of a washing machine, drier, people walking past or children playing. Also place the litter tray away from the water and food bowls, as cats will not want to do their business next to their food, and are likely to find another place in your house.
- Ensure that the litter tray is cleaned regularly (preferably twice daily), as cats hate a dirty litter tray. It must also be fully cleaned on a regular basis. We recommend that you only clean the litter tray with water and green soap.
- If your cat has a learned aversion to its litter tray, it may help to get a new litter tray (new colour and shape) with new litter and place it in a different place in your house.
- For long-haired cats, walking through the granules may be unpleasant. Keep the layer of cat litter thin and clip any long hair between the toes and around the anus. This will make the cat feel cleaner after using the litter tray and reduces the risk of your cat developing a litter tray aversion.
The use of calming food supplements and pheromones
Have you followed all of the above tips and your cat is still peeing in the house? It may help to use calming food supplements such as Zylkene or Telizen. Hanging a Feliway Classic in the area of the litter tray can often be an effective method. You can expect these products to take effect after about 3-4 weeks of use.
Please note! Punishment is pointless and can actually exacerbate the problem!
Having your cat pee in the house – for whatever reason – is highly unpleasant, particularly for the humans living in that house, due to the lingering odour of the cat urine. To remove this pungent odour and also ensure that your cat does not keep urinating in the same spot, you can use Urine Off for cats. You can also choose products such as Capturine Pets Bio-Cleaning, which break down the urine smell in an organic way.
Do you have any further questions about abnormal spraying or urinating behaviour in your cat? Please contact our veterinarian by phone on 020 3191 8322, or via e-mail at: email@example.com