Urine spraying is a form of normal territorial marking behaviour. Cats also spray during socially stressful situations, possibly to increase their self-assurance.
Males and females are capable of urine spraying, although it is more common in males. About 90% of intact males and 95% of intact females show a significant decrease in spraying after desexing. In the desexed population roughly 10% of males and 5% of females engage in urine spraying.
The first thing you need to do is contact your vet. If your kitten is over 6 months of age, it will need to be desexed, as the spraying indicates it is becoming sexually mature. Up to 30% of cats that present for spraying may have an underlying medical problem, most often feline lower urinary tract disease. Your vet may recommend analysis of your cat’s urine or other tests to rule out disease. Another reason for spraying is a stress-related behavioural problem.
Common stress triggers for cats
- Conflict with other cats in the household
- Dense population of cats outside the home
- Invasion of your home by a strange cat
- Decorating or extending your home
- New additions to the family (e.g. new baby, lodger, dog)
- Owner absence or change of work schedule
- Inappropriate punishment
- Excessive or intrusive contact from humans
What you can do while waiting for a vet visit or referral to a behaviourist
- Wash the area with a 10% solution of biological or enzymatic washing powder, rinse with cold water (don’t use too much liquid) and allow the area to dry thoroughly. Once dry, spray it lightly with surgical spirit (using a plant mister), scrub gently, and leave to evaporate.
- Place new feeding stations at sprayed sites and put a portion of your cat’s normal daily ration in these areas.
- Alternatively, use Feliway® spray to treat sprayed sites, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use a Feliway® diffuser to help reduce stress.
- Provide safe indoor litter trays: one for each cat in the household plus one extra. Distribute them in different locations in the home, away from food, water and cat beds.
- If you have a multi-cat household, ensure ALL resources (beds, food and water bowls, scratching posts, litter trays, high places to sit, hiding places, toys) are provided to the same formula (one per cat plus one extra, in different locations).
- If full-length curtains have been targeted, once cleaned, consider pinning them up temporarily to avoid repeated spraying.
- If your cat has ever seen strange cats outside through full-length glass doors or windows then place static, opaque plastic film, or cardboard, over the lower section so he can’t see out and cats outside can’t see in. After dark, simply draw the curtains.