Stop Your Cat From Spraying With This Surprising Scent

Why Cats Spray

Cats spray urine as a form of communication. According to WebMD, there are several key reasons why cats spray:

Territorial marking – Cats may spray to mark their territory and let other cats know who owns an area. This is especially common with indoor cats who spot another cat outside.

Communication – Cat spraying sends a message to other cats about their presence and sexual availability. Unneutered male cats in particular are more likely to spray to communicate with potential mates.

Stress/anxiety – Major changes in a cat’s environment, routine, or interactions can cause stress that leads to spraying. This includes introducing new pets, moving homes, or conflict with other cats in the house.

Medical issues – In rarer cases, underlying medical conditions like UTIs, kidney disease, diabetes or neurological issues can induce spraying behavior in cats.

Identifying the Cause

To understand why your cat is spraying, it’s important to observe their behavior and look for possible causes or triggers. As the WebMD article explains, cats may spray due to feeling “threatened, anxious, or sensed a challenge to their territory” (

Pay attention to the specific location or target of your cat’s spraying. They may consistently spray in a certain area, on a particular object, or near windows or doors where they see outdoor cats. Stress triggers like a new pet, guest, or baby in the home can also prompt spraying.

Additionally, the Preventive Vet article recommends getting your cat examined by a vet to check for medical issues that could contribute to spraying behaviors. Conditions like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes or neurological problems can be underlying causes (

Cleaning and Removing Odors

One of the first steps in stopping further spraying is to thoroughly clean and neutralize any spots where your cat has sprayed urine. Cat urine contains pheromones and smells that can trigger more spraying behavior if left behind.

Use an enzymatic cleaner formulated to break down pet stains and odors at the molecular level. Enzymatic cleaners work better than regular soap and water since they help remove the urine pheromones. Allow the cleaner to soak in for 5-10 minutes before blotting and rinsing.

Avoid cleaners containing ammonia or vinegar, which can smell similar to urine and encourage re-marking. Also avoid masking odors with air fresheners or perfumes, which do not eliminate the urine smell for your cat.

Be sure to find and clean all soiled areas thoroughly until no scent remains detectable. Use a blacklight to identify any stains you may have missed. Removing all traces of odor is key to stopping recurrence.

Blocking Access

One effective method to stop a cat from spraying in certain areas is to restrict their access to those locations. Cats often repeatedly spray in the same spots. By blocking them from getting to these problem areas, you can break the habit and stop the spraying.

Baby gates or doors can be used to limit a cat’s entry into previous spray sites like corners of rooms, near windows or doors, or on furniture. Install tall baby gates to block doorways or access to furniture. Use self-closing doors on closets or other small spaces a cat may be spraying in. This physical barrier interrupts their ability to spray those areas and makes the spots inaccessible.

It’s best to completely deny access at first. Over time, as the spraying habit improves, you can allow limited supervised access. Butcontinue blocking off problem areas as needed until the cat has fully stopped spraying there.

Restricting a cat’s access can also reduce stress and conflict between household cats that may be triggering spraying. Separation gives them their own territories and prevents spraying triggered by competition over shared spaces.

Along with access prevention, be sure to also clean soiled areas thoroughly to eliminate odors that can draw a cat back to spray again. Limiting access blocks the physical act while cleaning removes enticing smells.

Pheromone Diffusers/Sprays

Pheromone products like Feliway or Comfort Zone help reduce stress for cats by mimicking natural feline calming pheromones. These products come as diffusers, sprays, or wipes that can be applied around the home, especially near areas where the cat is spraying.

Feliway Optimum is a popular pheromone diffuser that helps provide a calming environment and may reduce urine spraying indoors (source). The Feliway diffuser releases a synthetic version of the facial pheromones cats use to mark places and objects around the home. This helps reassure cats and makes them feel calm and comfortable.

Applying Feliway or a similar pheromone product around spray sites can help reduce your cat’s urge to mark those areas. Just be sure to thoroughly clean the areas first and use the diffusers/sprays as directed.


Some medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help reduce a cat’s urge to spray urine. The most common medications used for spraying and marking behaviors are clomipramine and fluoxetine.

Clomipramine, also known as Clomicalm, is a tricyclic antidepressant. Studies have shown it to be effective in reducing spraying, urination outside the litter box, and urine marking in cats (DVM360). Clomipramine helps to reduce anxiety, which is often an underlying cause of inappropriate urination.

Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, is an SSRI antidepressant medication. Research indicates it can be as effective as clomipramine in treating urine marking behaviors in cats (Bow Wow Insurance, Mar Vista Animal Medical Center). Fluoxetine helps reduce anxiety similarly to clomipramine.

These medications are generally recommended for short-term use, alongside behavior modification techniques. Work closely with your veterinarian to determine if anxiety medication could help curb your cat’s spraying behavior.

Litter Box Solutions

One of the most common reasons cats spray urine outside their litter box is because they have an issue with the litter box itself. Making some changes to the litter box setup can help resolve this behavior.

An easy fix is to simply add more litter boxes. The general recommendation is to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. Having multiple boxes in different areas gives cats options for where to relieve themselves. Regularly cleaning the boxes is also important – boxes should be scooped daily and fully changed out weekly.

Cats often prefer large, uncovered litter boxes that give them space to move around. Covered boxes can trap odors inside, while smaller boxes may feel too cramped for some cats. Using a large plastic storage container as a litter box can be an affordable solution. Place multiple boxes in quiet, low-traffic areas [1].

Troubleshooting the litter box setup is an easy first step in addressing inappropriate urination issues. Providing appropriate, clean boxes in optimal areas makes it more likely cats will use them consistently.

Environmental Changes

Making changes to your cat’s environment can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common causes of inappropriate urination. Here are some tips:

Increase playtime and exercise. Cats need active play, especially cats that go outdoors. Try scheduling daily interactive play sessions with wand toys or other stimulating toys to help your cat burn off energy. Increase the number of perches, cat trees, and vertical spaces for your cat to climb and perch up high. Cats feel more secure when they can survey their territory from above. Adding more vertical space and perches allows each cat their own space.

Reduce household stress for your cat. Loud noises, changes in routine, new pets, and conflict with other pets can cause stress. Try to minimize loud noises, keep feeding times and litter box cleaning on a routine, introduce new pets slowly, and give each of your pets their own spaces. The more you can reduce stress and anxiety triggers, the less likely inappropriate urination will occur.

Deterrent Sprays

Using deterrent sprays that contain citrus or mint scents can help make an area unappealing for a cat to urinate on. According to one source, cats strongly dislike the smell of citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes. The acidic scent creates an unpleasant environment that deters cats from wanting to pee there. Peppermint oil is another natural option mentioned by vets that can leave a fresh smell while repelling cats.

Deterrent sprays are easy to find or make at home. They can be safely sprayed over furniture, rugs, walls, and other problem areas. The strong citrus or minty aroma should discourage your cat from relieving itself in those spots. However, it’s important to also address the underlying cause for the inappropriate peeing. Deterrents provide temporary relief but do not solve territorial or medical issues.

When to Seek Help

If your cat’s litter box issues persist for more than a few weeks without improvement, it’s time to seek professional help ( The longer the behavior goes on, the harder it will be to correct. Don’t let the problem become habitual.

You should also contact your veterinarian right away if your cat stops using the litter box altogether. A sudden change like this could indicate a medical problem that requires urgent attention (

For cats with recurring medical issues related to inappropriate urination or defecation, your vet can provide ongoing advice and treatment. Getting to the root cause of the problem is key to keeping your cat healthy and resolving litter box troubles.

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