Stop Your Cat’s Indoor Spraying for Good

Understanding Why Cats Spray

Cats spray urine as a form of communication. There are two main reasons cats spray:

Territorial Marking: Unneutered male cats and unspayed female cats are most likely to spray urine as a way to mark their territory. Spraying communicates information about the cat’s identity, age, territory, and sexual status to other cats. Intact male cats in particular use spraying as a way to mark their territory and attract females.

Stress/Anxiety: Both neutered and spayed cats may spray urine due to stress or anxiety. Multi-cat households where cats feel competitive for resources like food, bedding, territory, and human attention can trigger spraying. Environmental changes, new people or animals, or loud noises can also cause stress that leads to spraying.

According to a 2019 study, stress-related spraying accounts for about 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayed females who spray.

Preventing Indoor Cat Spraying

One of the most effective ways to prevent indoor cat spraying is to get your cat spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering reduces the urge for territorial marking and makes cats less likely to spray urine in the house. According to the ASPCA, neutering your male cat prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems. Spaying a female cat prevents them from going into heat cycles where they feel compelled to spray urine to attract mates.

It’s ideal to spay or neuter your cat before 6 months of age, but the procedure can be done at any age. Check with your veterinarian about the appropriate timing. According to the ASPCA, spaying or neutering your cat provides major health and behavioral benefits.

In addition to spaying/neutering, there are other ways to prevent indoor spraying:

  • Provide enough litter boxes – Have at least one litter box per cat, plus an extra box in a different location.
  • Clean litter boxes frequently – Scoop waste out daily and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks.
  • Give cats their own territory – Set up separate feeding stations, beds, scratching posts, and play areas for each cat.

Following these tips will help satisfy your cats’ needs and reduce the urges that lead to spraying inside your home.

Stopping Cat Spraying Triggers

Cats often spray urine inside the home due to stress triggers in their environment. By identifying and reducing these stressors, you can curb unwanted spraying behaviors.

Environmental changes like moving homes, construction noises, or introducing new pets can cause anxiety in cats. Try to minimize abrupt changes to their routine and space. Introduce any new cats slowly by keeping them separated at first and giving them time to get used to each other’s scents. Slow introductions over several weeks can help avoid territorial conflicts.

Relationships with other household cats can also trigger spraying if there is conflict or competition over resources. Make sure each cat has their own food, water, scratching posts, beds, and litter boxes. Clean all litter boxes frequently to encourage use. Keeping resources plentiful can reduce competition and anxiety between cats.

By identifying and addressing sources of environmental stress, you can reduce the triggers that lead cats to spray urine indoors. This involves being attentive to your cat’s needs and making adjustments to minimize their anxiety and marking behaviors.

Cleaning Up Cat Spray

Cleaning up cat spray properly is crucial to fully eliminate odors and prevent repeat incidents. The key is using an enzymatic cleaner specifically formulated to break down the compounds in cat urine that cause lingering odors.

Enzymatic cleaners contain bacteria that feed on the proteins and other organic matter in cat urine. This process breaks down the urine into harmless byproducts so it can no longer cause odors. Some popular enzymatic cleaners for cat spray include Nature’s Miracle and Bubba’s Super Strength Commercial Enzyme Cleaner.

It’s important to avoid ammonia-based cleaners when tackling cat spray. The ammonia smell resembles cat urine to your cat, and can actually encourage more spraying. Instead, choose an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for pet stains and odors.

When using an enzymatic cleaner, allow it to soak into the sprayed area for 5-10 minutes before wiping up. This gives the enzymes time to start breaking down the compounds in the cat urine. Follow up by thoroughly rinsing the area with clean water to remove any cleaner residue.

Using Pheromones to Calm Cats

Cats naturally produce pheromones, which are chemical signals that provide information and trigger social and reproductive responses in other cats. There are a few key pheromones cats use to mark territory and communicate with each other:

  • Facial pheromones – produced around the face, cheeks and chin
  • Interdigital semiochemicals – produced by glands between the toes
  • Feline facial pheromone – produced from glands under the tail

Synthetic versions of these pheromones can be used to help relieve stress and curb marking behaviors in cats. Feliway is a popular brand that makes pheromone products for cats. They offer sprays, diffusers, wipes and collars that contain synthetic pheromones modeled after cats’ natural facial pheromones.

Feliway diffusers should be plugged into the wall in the area your cat spends the most time. The diffuser will emit calming pheromones constantly for about a month. For quick calming in high stress situations, the Feliway spray can be applied directly to objects like carriers, vet blankets, scratching posts, doors, etc. The pheromones promote relaxation and help prevent spraying and inappropriate marking.

According to, synthetic pheromones can effectively reduce spraying when used consistently in combination with other techniques like environmental enrichment and training.

Using Medication for Anxiety/Stress

If your cat’s spraying is due to underlying anxiety or stress, medication may help calm your cat and curb the spraying behavior. Medication should be considered as a last resort if behavioral modification and environmental changes have failed to stop the spraying.

Some medications that may be prescribed by your vet for a spraying cat include:

  • Clomipramine – a tricyclic antidepressant that has been shown effective for reducing urine spraying in cats (1).
  • Fluoxetine – an SSRI antidepressant sometimes prescribed for inappropriate urination.
  • Buspirone – an anti-anxiety medication.

While these medications can help reduce anxiety and spraying, they do come with potential side effects like lethargy, reduced appetite, and restlessness. It’s important to work closely with your vet to find the right medication and dosage for your cat. Your vet will likely start with a low dose and adjust it based on your cat’s response.

Before considering medication, your vet will want to rule out any underlying medical issues causing the spraying by doing a full physical exam and urinalysis. Starting medication without a proper diagnosis could delay treating the real problem. Discuss all treatment options fully with your vet before beginning medication.

With your vet’s guidance, medication may help curb spraying behavior in anxious or stressed cats. But medication alone is rarely a complete solution – behavior and environment modification will also be key to stopping the spraying for good.


Training Cats Not to Spray

One of the most effective ways to stop a cat from spraying indoors is through positive reinforcement training. This involves rewarding your cat with treats whenever they use their litter box or scratching post. You can do this by keeping treats near the litter box and giving your cat one immediately after they finish using it. Over time, the cat will associate using the litter box with getting a reward.

It’s also important to redirect scratching and urine spraying to appropriate places in your home. Provide plenty of scratching posts around your home and encourage your cat to use them by rubbing catnip on them or using treats. Place scratching posts near furniture or areas your cat tries to scratch. This gives them an approved outlet for their natural scratching instinct.

To discourage unwanted spraying or scratching, use deterrent sprays like Sentry Stop That! Spray on furniture or walls where your cat sprays. The smell discourages them from returning to those areas. You can also place double-sided sticky tape on surfaces, which cats don’t like walking on.

With positive reinforcement and redirection, most cats can be trained to scratch and urine mark only appropriate places within your home.

Providing an Enriched Environment

A key way to stop a cat from spraying indoors is to provide an enriched environment that meets their natural instincts and needs for play and exploration. An enriched environment gives cats appropriate outlets to express normal behavior.

Some tips for enriching your cat’s environment include:

  • Provide cat trees and scratching posts – These allow cats to climb, scratch, and perch up high as they would in nature. Scratching posts should be sturdy and tall enough for a full stretch. Place them in areas where the cat already tries to scratch (See “Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats” at
  • Offer puzzle feeders and interactive toys – These encourage natural hunting behaviors and provide mental stimulation (“Environmental Enrichment for Cats” from
  • Use catnip – This plant induces a natural “high” in cats and promotes playful behavior.
  • Dedicate playtime each day – Set aside 10-15 minutes twice daily for interactive play with wands, balls, and other engaging toys.

With a more enriched living space, cats are less likely to show stress-related behaviors like inappropriate spraying.

Ruling Out Medical Causes

Sometimes cats spray urine due to underlying medical issues like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or diabetes. It’s important to rule out medical causes first by taking your cat to the vet for a thorough exam and diagnostic testing.

Urinary tract infections can cause inflammation and discomfort that leads to inappropriate urination. Your vet can check for signs of infection like frequent urination, blood in the urine, and straining to urinate. They may collect a urine sample for further testing.

Kidney disease can cause cats to urinate more frequently and lose control of their bladder. Diagnostic testing like bloodwork, urinalysis, and imaging can check kidney function. Signs of kidney disease include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, poor appetite, and lethargy.

Diabetes leads to excessive urination and accidents. Your vet can test blood sugar levels and look for signs like increased appetite and thirst. Controlling diabetes requires insulin therapy and a specialized diet.

If initial examination and diagnostics rule out underlying illness, the inappropriate urination likely stems from behavioral issues instead. Your vet can provide guidance on behavioral training, stress reduction, and creating a comfortable home environment.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your cat’s spraying behavior is frequent and severe, it’s best to seek professional help from a cat behaviorist or certified applied animal behaviorist. According to Best Friends, you should consider hiring a professional if your cat is spraying multiple times per day, spraying large amounts, spraying on furniture or walls, or eliminating outside the litter box as well.

A cat behaviorist can help identify the underlying cause and create a customized behavior modification plan. They have extensive education in cat psychology and behavior, while a certified applied animal behaviorist has a graduate degree and many years of experience dealing with tough cases.

Don’t wait too long before seeking help if self-help strategies like pheromones, medication, environment enrichment, and training aren’t working after a few weeks. The sooner the root cause is identified and treated, the easier it will be to curb the unwanted spraying. As iHeartCats mentions, hiring a professional shows your dedication to your cat’s well-being.

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