Stop That Spray! 3 Home Remedies to Curb Your Cat’s Marking

Understanding Cat Spraying

Cat spraying is a natural territorial marking behavior. When cats spray, they are marking surfaces with their scent to claim ownership and feel more secure in their environment. Spraying is different from urinating to relieve themselves. With spraying, cats back up and raise their tails while releasing just a small amount of urine. The urine can have a strong odor and can be difficult to remove from surfaces.

According to the Blue Cross, some common triggers for cat spraying include:

  • A new cat in the household or neighborhood
  • Conflicts with other household cats
  • A recent move to a new home
  • New furniture, carpets, etc. in the home
  • Seeing outdoor cats through a window
  • Anxiety or stress

WebMD notes that unneutered male cats are the most likely to spray, as intact males are compelled to mark their territory more frequently. However, neutered males and females can spray as well. Identifying the trigger for spraying is key to curbing this undesirable feline behavior.

Preventing Cat Spraying

There are several key ways to prevent cat spraying in your home, by reducing stress triggers:

Spay or neuter your cat. Unaltered cats are more likely to spray urine as a territory marking behavior or due to hormonal reasons. Spaying or neutering your cat eliminates this cause of spraying.

Provide enough litter boxes. Cats may spray if they don’t have access to enough litter boxes. Provide one more litter box than the number of cats in your home, spread throughout the house.

Clean litter boxes frequently, at least once a day. Cats dislike dirty litter boxes and may spray instead of using a smelly or dirty box.

Reduce stress and anxiety in your cat’s environment. Things like conflict with other pets, loud noises, or changes in routine can cause a cat to spray. Try to minimize stressors and give your cat outlets like playtime, cat trees, and affection.

Deterring Spraying Locations

There are a few ways you can deter your cat from spraying in certain areas around your home:

Use synthetic pheromones like Feliway to help calm your cat and reduce urges to spray. Feliway mimics natural feline pheromones and can help deter marking when sprayed around problem areas according to this source.

Block access to any known problem areas like furniture or walls where your cat has sprayed before. This could involve closing doors, putting up barriers, or covering the area with furniture or plants.

Use odor neutralizers on any areas where your cat has sprayed previously. Cat urine contains pheromones that can actually encourage more spraying. Thoroughly clean the area first with an enzymatic cleaner to break down odors according to this source.

Punishment Doesn’t Work

It’s important not to scold or punish your cat for spraying, as this will only increase their stress and make the problem worse. As explained in this article, “It’s Time to Stop Spraying Cats with Water!”, spraying cats with water is considered a punishment rather than a reinforcement. Punishments may temporarily stop the behavior, but they do not address the underlying cause. Additionally, punishment can make cats fearful and anxious, which can actually trigger more spraying.

The article “Should I spray my cat with water when they misbehave?” on BetterPet advises against using water bottles to discipline cats, as this approach is unlikely to correct the behavior long-term. Veterinarians agree that positive reinforcement training is a much more effective method.

Rather than punishing a cat for spraying, it’s important to identify and address the source of their stress or anxiety. Providing adequate environmental enrichment, socialization, and outlets for natural behavior can help resolve the underlying issue. Punishment will only make a stressed cat more anxious.

Cleaning Up Cat Spray

When a cat sprays in your home, it’s important to clean it up thoroughly to eliminate the smell and prevent future spraying. The key is using an enzyme-based cleaner specifically formulated to break down cat urine. Enzymes work to permanently destroy the urine proteins that create lingering odors. Excellent enzyme cleaner options include Nature’s Miracle and Angry Orange.

Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as these may encourage more spraying due to their similarity to the smell of urine. Vinegar can help cut through urine stench as an acid, but doesn’t have the enzymatic action needed to fully remove cat spray smells. For best results, soak up as much urine as possible, then saturate the area with an enzyme cleaner, allowing it to fully break down the urine over several hours or per the product instructions. Thoroughly rinse the area afterwards.


Herbal Spray Deterrents

Cat’s don’t like strong scents and certain herbs can help deter cats from spraying in unwanted areas. Herbal sprays made with natural ingredients like essential oils can be an effective home remedy. Look for sprays containing:

  • Citrus or mint scents – Most cats dislike these strong smells. Sprays with lemon, orange, lime or peppermint oils can help repel cats.
  • Lavender or eucalyptus oil – These herbs have strong fragrances that cats tend to avoid.
  • Rue or wormwood – These bitter herbs can serve as cat repellents. However, they may also be toxic to cats if ingested so use them with caution.

Make your own natural cat deterrent spray at home by diluting 10-15 drops of essential oils like citrus, lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus into water in a spray bottle. Spritz problem areas like furniture, doorways or plants. Reapply daily or as needed.

You can also find commercial herbal sprays made specifically for deterring cats. Look for products with natural plant-based ingredients. Always spot test cleaners on an inconspicuous area first to ensure they won’t damage or discolor surfaces.


Feliway is a synthetic pheromone spray that mimics feline facial pheromones. It can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats, which is often a cause of inappropriate urination and spraying. According to Feliway, using the Feliway Optimum Diffuser continuously may help stop and prevent spraying. The pheromones create a sense of familiarity and comfort for the cat.

However, some studies have found mixed results on Feliway’s effectiveness for urine spraying. One study found no evidence that Feliway had an effect on stress or upper respiratory diseases in shelter cats.[1] Still, many cat owners and veterinarians report success with using Feliway to reduce stressed behaviors like urine spraying. It’s considered very safe for cats when used as directed.


In some severe cases of cat spraying, prescription medications may be recommended by your veterinarian. The two most common medications used for treating inappropriate urination and spraying in cats are fluoxetine (Prozac) and clomipramine.

According to Bow Wow Insurance, clomipramine is often the first choice of veterinary behaviorists for treating urine marking in cats, with a success rate close to 90% in most cats. Clomipramine helps reduce anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) has also been shown to be effective for treating feline urine spraying, especially in severe cases. According to research summarized in DVM360, daily doses of fluoxetine can reduce urine spraying in approximately 75% of cats.

Both medications should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian, as they can have side effects. But for cats with persistent spraying that has not responded to other treatments, prescription medication may provide much-needed relief for the cat and owner.


Some natural health enthusiasts believe that homeopathic remedies can help deter cat spraying. Homeopathy uses highly diluted preparations of substances to stimulate the body’s self-healing response. There is limited evidence that homeopathic remedies are effective for stopping cats from spraying.

Some commonly recommended homeopathic remedies for cat spraying include:

  • Pulsatilla – for anxious, attention-seeking cats
  • Sepia – for indifferent, irritable cats
  • Nux vomica – for hostile, aggressive cats

While these remedies are generally safe when used properly, there is little scientific proof they work to curb spraying behavior in cats. More research is needed on homeopathy for feline behavioral issues. Homeopathy should not replace veterinary advice and care.

When to See the Vet

Take your cat to the veterinarian if spraying is a new behavior for them. Sudden changes in bathroom habits can indicate medical issues like urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or kidney disease (source). The vet can run tests to diagnose underlying conditions.

You should also bring your cat in if they vocalize or seem to be in pain when spraying. Meowing, crying or straining indicates discomfort that requires veterinary attention (source). The vet can examine your cat for potential causes like urethral obstructions.

Additionally, schedule an appointment if spraying coincides with other behavioral changes. An overall shift in your cat’s temperament or habits could signify illness. Your vet can pinpoint issues and recommend appropriate treatment.

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