Why Is My Cat Spraying Pee All Over the House?


Cat spraying is when a cat backs up to an object like a wall or furniture and sprays a small amount of urine. It’s different from regular urination because the urine comes out in a fine spray rather than a normal stream. There are several main reasons that cats spray:

  • Territorial marking
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Medical conditions
  • Improper litter box set up
  • Unneutered males and unspayed females
  • Multiple cats in a household

In this article, we’ll go over these key reasons for cat spraying and discuss potential solutions to stop the behavior.

Territorial Marking

Territorial marking, also known as urine marking or spraying, is when a cat purposefully urinates on vertical surfaces like walls, furniture, and windows. It is a natural feline behavior that stems from cats’ instinct to mark their territory with scent glands. Although both male and female cats spray, this behavior is most commonly seen in intact males and unspayed females.

There are several reasons why cats mark their territory with urine:

  • To claim an area or object as their own
  • As a signal to potential mates that they are available
  • To deter other cats from entering their territory
  • To relieve stress or anxiety

When cats spray urine, it tends to come out in a fine stream rather than a typical urination stance. This allows them to project the urine higher up on vertical surfaces, thus marking a wider territory. The urine also contains pheromones that communicate information to other cats who come across it. While humans may find this behavior undesirable, it’s important to understand territorial marking is normal for felines. The key is addressing the underlying motivation for spraying.

Stress and Anxiety

Cats are very routine oriented animals. Changes in their routine or environment can cause them to feel stress and anxiety. This can lead to spraying as a way to cope with the uneasiness they feel. Some common triggers include:

  • A new person or pet in the household
  • Conflicts with other cats
  • Construction, renovation, or changes to their territory
  • Travel or time at a boarding facility
  • New furniture or household layout

Research has shown higher levels of stress hormones in cats that spray, indicating it is likely associated with anxiety and unease 1. Spraying can be their way of trying to regain a sense of security in their environment. It’s important to identify sources of stress and make adjustments to reduce anxiety triggers when possible.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause cats to spray urine. Some common medical culprits include:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) – UTIs cause inflammation and irritation in a cat’s urinary tract, making urination painful. To avoid this pain, a cat with a UTI may spray urine instead of squatting to pee normally. UTIs in cats often require antibiotics prescribed by a vet to clear up the infection. For more see Why Do Cats Spray or Urine Mark?

Kidney Disease – Kidney disease leads to the buildup of toxins in a cat’s bloodstream, which can alter their urine composition and cause discomfort during urination. Spraying may become an alternative to painful peeing. Treating the kidney disease itself, often with intravenous fluids, a special diet, and medication prescribed by a vet, can help resolve inappropriate urination. Check out Cat Behavior Problems – Marking and Spraying Behavior | VCA for more details.

Diabetes – Uncontrolled diabetes increases thirst and urine production in cats. The larger volumes of urine passing through the bladder may cause discomfort and lead to urine spraying. Getting diabetes under control with insulin therapy and dietary changes prescribed by your vet can help minimize spraying.

Improper Litter Box Setup

Cats can be very particular about their litter boxes, and an improper setup can cause them to start spraying urine outside of the box. One of the most common reasons is that the litter box is not being cleaned frequently enough. Cat urine and feces build up, creating an unpleasant odor that can deter cats from wanting to use their box. The general recommendation is to scoop waste out of the litter box daily and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks.

Another potential issue is having a litter box that is too small for the cat. Larger breeds like Maine Coons need bigger litter boxes that they can comfortably stand in and turn around in. Similarly, a covered litter box with a lower ceiling height can make a cat feel cramped. Using a litter box that is too small can make a cat opt to spray in other larger spaces instead.

Some cats prefer more privacy and do not like litter boxes that are open. They want an enclosed space. However, other cats dislike covered litter boxes and want open access. Paying attention to a cat’s preferences and providing the type of litter box they like can prevent spraying caused by an undesirable setup.

Having too few litter boxes is another potential trigger for spraying if boxes are scarce and competition over resources results. The general guideline is one more litter box than the number of cats in a home.

Overall, it’s important to regularly clean litter boxes, provide adequately sized boxes for each cat, and offer the right mix of open and covered options to meet every cat’s needs. Improper litter box setup is a common reason cats spray urine outside their boxes.

Unneutered Males and Unspayed Females

One of the main reasons cats spray is due to their natural instincts and hormone levels. Unneutered male cats in particular spray more often to mark their territory and let females know they are available for mating. The hormones in intact male cats drives them to mark their territory more frequently [1]. Meanwhile, unspayed female cats also spray while in heat, leaving signals for male cats. Their estrogen levels make them more likely to urine mark [2]. Getting your cat fixed through neutering or spaying can help reduce spraying behaviors.

Multiple Cats

In multi-cat households, territorial spraying often occurs when cats feel stressed by the presence of other cats. Cats are very territorial and each cat wants to mark out its own space within the home. When new cats are introduced or existing cats have conflicts, this can increase stress levels and lead to more spraying behaviors. According to the ASPCA, if you have multiple cats and aren’t sure which cat is marking, speak with your veterinarian about giving fluorescein, a harmless dye, to one of your cats. This will show up under a blacklight and indicate which cat is spraying (Urine Marking in Cats).

To reduce spraying in a multi-cat home, make sure each cat has their own litter box, food and water bowls, scratching posts, resting places and toys. Provide more vertical space with cat trees and shelves so cats can get up high and avoid confrontations. Use pheromone diffusers like Feliway to help calm stressed cats. If aggression is happening between specific cats, you may need to separate them and do slow reintroductions under supervision. With patience and environmental adjustments, spraying in multi-cat households can be reduced.


There are several solutions that can help stop a cat from spraying urine inside the home:

Provide more litter boxes – Having multiple litter boxes, especially in multi-cat households, can give cats more options for relieving themselves and reduce competition.

Spay or neuter your cat – Unneutered males and unspayed females are more likely to spray urine. Neutering or spaying can greatly reduce this behavior.

Reduce stress – Stress can trigger inappropriate urination. Providing environmental enrichments like cat trees, toys, and spending more positive time with your cat can help lower their stress levels. Using synthetic feline pheromones like Feliway can also reduce stress.

Clean soiled areas thoroughly – It’s critical to remove all urine smells. Use an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle to break down the urine compounds.

Try cat calming supplements – Supplements like Sentry Calming Collar release calming pheromones that can reduce anxiety.

Use repellents – Aluminum foil, citrus scents, or a cat repellent spray like Scat Mat on problem areas may discourage cats from spraying there.

Consider medication – In severe cases, medication prescribed by a vet like Prozac or amitriptyline can be used alongside behavior modification to reduce spraying.

Cleaning and Removing Smells

Getting rid of the lingering urine smell is key to preventing your cat from spraying in the same areas repetitively. Here are some tips for cleaning surfaces and removing odors:

Use an enzymatic cleaner specifically made for eliminating pet urine odors and stains. Enzyme cleaners work to break down the compounds in cat urine that cause lingering odors. Apply the cleaner and let it soak as directed before blotting and rinsing the area (The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Cat Pee Smell).

Make a DIY cleaning solution by mixing one part vinegar with two parts water. Vinegar helps neutralize odors. Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe down any sprayed surfaces. Allow the vinegar solution to sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing (How to Get Rid of Cat Spray Odor: 12 Steps (with Pictures)).

Sprinkle baking soda liberally on fabric furnishings, carpet, or concrete floors that have been sprayed. Let it sit for several hours before vacuuming up. The baking soda will help absorb odors (How To Get Rid Of A Cat Spraying Smell: 6 Tips).

Use an UV blacklight to identify all soiled areas. The urine stains will fluoresce under the blacklight. Thoroughly clean each area.

Wash any bedding, fabric furniture covers, or clothing with an enzymatic cleaner or vinegar to eliminate odors that may attract more spraying.

When to See a Vet

If your cat is spraying frequently or the behavior is getting worse, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Frequent spraying can indicate an underlying medical issue that needs attention. Additionally, if you notice any blood in your cat’s urine while they are spraying, that is an immediate cause for concern that warrants a vet visit.

Some other signs that signal it’s time to see the vet include:

  • Increased frequency of spraying
  • Spraying outside of the litter box
  • Excessive licking of genitals
  • Issues with urination like straining or blood
  • Changes in appetite or energy levels

A veterinarian can run tests to check for issues like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions that may be causing your cat to spray urine as a symptom. They can also examine your cat for signs of pain that may be triggering the behavior. If the cause is medical, medication or treatment can help resolve the spraying.

It’s important not to delay a veterinary visit if spraying is happening frequently or along with other concerning symptoms. The sooner your vet can pinpoint the cause, the faster your cat’s health and behavior can improve.

Scroll to Top