Stop Cats Spraying for Good. The Top 3 Products That Work

Understanding Cat Spraying

Cat spraying, also known as urine marking, is a common behavior in cats where they deposit small amounts of urine around an area. This allows them to stake their claim and mark territory through scent (WebMD, 2023). There are several key reasons cats engage in spraying behavior:

Territorial marking – Cats may spray to protect their territory from intruders. This is especially common with unneutered male cats who haven’t been fixed. Spraying alerts other cats that the area is occupied (PetMD, 2022).

Stress or anxiety – Changes to their environment, new people or animals, or stressful events can trigger anxiety and lead to spraying. It helps them feel more secure in their space (CFHS, 2021).

Medical issues – Diseases of the urinary tract like infections, bladder stones, or kidney disease can cause discomfort during normal urination. The cat may spray to avoid pain while peeing in the litter box (CFHS, 2021).

There are some differences between male and female cat spraying. Unneutered males are the most common sprayers, using it to mark their territory. Female cats typically only spray when in heat, interacting with male cats, or stressed (PetMD, 2022).

Common triggers leading to cat spraying include introducing a new pet, moving homes, construction noises, seeing outdoor cats, and dirty littler boxes. Identifying the cause is key to stopping the behavior (WebMD, 2023).

Negative Impacts of Cat Spraying

Cat spraying can have several undesirable effects, including:

Unpleasant smell – The urine sprayed by cats has a strong, pungent odor that many find offensive. The smell can linger for long periods if the cat urine is not properly cleaned.

Damage to furniture/carpets – Cat spray contains chemicals that can stain and damage furniture, carpets, drapes, and other household items. The stains and smells can be very difficult to remove completely.

Health risks from not cleaning properly – Improperly cleaned cat spray can spread parasites and bacteria that cause diseases in humans. Toxoplasmosis is one example of an infectious disease that can be transmitted through cat urine. Thorough cleaning and disinfection is required to eliminate health risks (VCA Hospitals).

Training and Behavior Modification

Positive reinforcement training can be an effective way to modify a cat’s spraying behavior. This involves rewarding your cat with treats, praise, or play when they urinate in the proper litter box. You can help reinforce this behavior by placing the litter box in the areas where the cat tends to spray and rewarding them when they use it. Consistency is key, so make sure to reward every time the cat uses its litter box properly. Over time, the cat will associate good things with using the litter box and avoid spraying around the house.

It’s also important to identify and remove any triggers that may be causing your cat to spray. This could involve keeping stray cats away from your house, reducing stress and anxiety, providing adequate enrichment, and resolving conflicts between household cats. Removing these causes of stress can curb the spraying behavior.

Some cat owners have success using synthetic pheromone sprays and diffusers. These release calming pheromones that can make a stressed cat feel more relaxed. Talk to your vet about whether a synthetic pheromone product could help reduce your cat’s urge to spray.

Veterinary Intervention

If behavior modification and pheromone products have not stopped your cat’s spraying, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical causes. According to the ASPCA, conditions like urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation, kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can contribute to inappropriate urination and spraying in cats.

Your vet can run tests like a urinalysis and bloodwork to check for these issues. They may also recommend imaging like x-rays or an ultrasound to visualize the urinary tract and look for stones, crystals or anatomical abnormalities.

If no medical cause is found, your vet may suggest medication to help reduce anxiety or the urge to spray. Drugs like fluoxetine and clomipramine have been used to treat urine marking in cats, according to a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (1). Supplements like Zylkene, a hydrolyzed milk protein, may also help relieve stress.

As noted by VCA Hospitals (2), medications are most effective when paired with behavior modification techniques. Work closely with your vet to find the right approach if your cat’s spraying is not improving.



Cleaning Products for Cat Spray

There are a variety of effective cleaning products that can help remove cat spray odor and stains from surfaces in your home. Some of the most recommended cleaning solutions for cat urine include:

Enzymatic Cleaners – Enzyme-based cleaners work to break down the proteins in cat urine and neutralize odors. They are highly effective at removing both stain and smell from carpets, floors, furniture and other surfaces. Popular brands include Nature’s Miracle and Angry Orange.[1]

Baking Soda – Baking soda absorbs and neutralizes odors. Make a paste with baking soda and water and rub it into the sprayed area before vacuuming up. Baking soda can be left for several hours or overnight before vacuuming for severe odors.[2]

Hydrogen Peroxide – Mixing hydrogen peroxide with dish soap and baking soda creates a natural cleaning solution for cat spray stains and odors. Spray or wipe onto affected areas before blotting and rinsing clean.[3]

Vinegar – White vinegar is a mild acid that helps break down uric acid in cat urine while reducing odor. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and apply to the sprayed area before wiping and allowing to fully dry.

It’s important to clean cat urine quickly and thoroughly to avoid the spray soaking deeper into porous surfaces over time. Always ensure the area is rinsed clean after applying a cleaning product.


Litter Box Considerations

When trying to stop a cat from spraying, one of the first things to consider is the cat’s litter box setup. A clean, accessible litter box can help reduce stress and undesirable elimination habits.

Firstly, litter boxes should be scooped at least once a day and fully cleaned out weekly with soap and hot water to remove odors. Cats prefer a clean litter box and may start spraying if the litter box becomes too dirty [1].

Having multiple litter boxes, ideally one per cat plus an extra, can also help prevent spraying by giving cats more options. Place boxes in quiet, low traffic areas of the home. Try different litter types like clumping, pine, or crystal litters to find what your cat prefers. Do not use scented litters.

Finally, note the location of the litter boxes. Some cats dislike boxes near noisy appliances. Make sure boxes are easily accessed but have some privacy. Try putting one box in the area the cat is spraying to target that behavior.

Deterrent Sprays

There are a variety of commercial deterrent sprays available that can help stop cats from spraying inside your home. These sprays rely on certain active ingredients that are aversive for cats:

  • Citrus oils – Cats dislike the smell of citrus. Sprays with natural citrus oils from oranges, lemons, etc. can deter cats.
  • Pennyroyal oil -Derived from the pennyroyal plant, this natural oil has a strong odor cats dislike.
  • Methyl nonyl ketone – This synthetic cat pheromone signals territory belonging to another cat, causing avoidance.
  • Allyl isothiocyanate – This gives sprays a pungent garlic scent that repels cats.

When using deterrent sprays, avoid spraying directly on cats. Focus on problem areas by spraying 8-12 inches away from surfaces like furniture, carpets, drapes, and walls. Reapply daily and after cleaning the sprayed area. Allow spray to dry thoroughly before allowing pets to access. Test an inconspicuous area first for colorfastness. Popular and effective brands include Sentry Stop That! and Nature’s Miracle No More Spraying.

Pheromone Sprays/Diffusers/Collars

Synthetic feline pheromones, which mimic cats’ natural facial pheromones, can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. Products like Feliway contain synthetic pheromone analogues that have been shown to help curb urine marking behaviors in cats.

Studies have found that Feliway can lead to a 50-70% reduction in urine marking within 3 weeks when used consistently and properly ( The pheromones are released into the air and absorbed by the cat’s vomeronasal organ, having a calming effect.

Feliway products come in various forms:

  • Feliway Classic Spray can be directly applied to objects in the home
  • Feliway Classic Diffuser provides constant diffusion of pheromones in one room
  • Feliway Multicat Diffuser covers a larger area up to 700 sq ft
  • Feliway Friends Diffuser helps ease tensions between cats in one household
  • Feliway Collar provides portable pheromone diffusion for cats

Using Feliway products as directed by the manufacturer can significantly reduce urine marking and provide a calming environment for stressed cats.

Recommended Physical Deterrents

There are several types of physical deterrents that can help stop cats from spraying inside the home. These provide passive barriers that make the sprayed areas less appealing to cats.

Motion sensor devices can be effective deterrents. They detect a cat’s movement and emit sounds, ultrasonic frequencies or puffs of air to startle the cat and keep them away. Examples include the Ssscat Spray Pet Deterrent and Scat Mat Electronic Pet Deterrent. These should be placed in problem areas and activated when the cat is not around.

Plastic carpet runners placed upside down can also deter cats from sprayed spots. The plastic spikes are uncomfortable on cats’ paws. Slippery surfaces likefoil and plastic sheeting can also be laid over furniture or carpet to make it unappealing. Though unsightly, these physical barriers work best when combined with positive reinforcement.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your cat’s spraying behavior persists after trying training, pheromones, cleaning products, and deterrents, it may be time to seek professional help from an animal behaviorist. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAABs) and board-certified veterinary behaviorists (DACVBs) specialize in modifying problematic pet behaviors through a customized behavior modification plan (source).

A professional can help identify the underlying motivation for your cat’s spraying and design an effective treatment plan. This may involve techniques like desensitization and counterconditioning using treats and toys to change your cat’s emotional response. Medications may also be prescribed in some cases to reduce anxiety or compulsive behaviors.

Rehoming should only be a last resort if no other options provide relief for you and your cat. Working with a behaviorist optimizes chances of resolving spraying issues and keeping your cat in your home.

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