Cat owners know that one of the perils of owning a cat is the possibility that it might start spraying in the house one day, suddenly, for what seems to be no specific reason. Usually there are reasons behind spraying behavior in cats, however, which means that there are methods to prevent spraying from happening in the first place.
Why Do Cats Spray?
Before we can talk about how to stop a cat from spraying in the house, it’s important to understand why they do this. When cats spray, they are marking their territory. It is a natural instinct for all cats to do this, to tell other cats, “butt out — this area is mine.” Cats usually start spraying in the house due to feeling threatened or anxious. Have there been any recent big changes in your household – you got a new cat, a new dog, a new baby? Have you recently moved and changed the surroundings to which your cat has become accustomed? All of these things can be triggers that can cause your cat to start spraying in the house.
How to Stop Spraying Behavior
Have Your Cat Neutered or Spayed
The number one prevention tactic that veterinarians suggest when asked how to get a cat to stop spraying in the house is to have them neutered or spayed. Because it is the un-neutered male cat who is the likeliest to spray in the house, it stands to reason that neutering will help to prevent this behavior. Un-neutered females have also been known to spray. Vets suggest having your cat neutered or spayed before he or she turns six months of age, the age of puberty in cats. This way, the hope is that you can stop spraying behavior before it might naturally start.
Try to Keep Kitty Stress-Free
An anxious cat is much more likely to spray in the house than a calm cat. If the spraying occurs often and you’re pretty sure it’s due to anxiety in your cat, ask your veterinarian about an anti-anxiety medication you can administer to kitty. Better yet, try homeopathic remedies first (but ask your vet about these as well). Some home remedies that vets have suggested to calm cats include catnip, chamomile, and St. John’s Wort. There are also over-the-counter sprays such as Feliway that are said to contain cat pheromones and will calm your cat.
Pay Attention to Your Cat
Some cats will start spraying to get their owner’s attention – yes, it is negative attention, but it is attention all the same. Spend some time every day petting and interacting with your cat, perhaps brushing her or playing with her. Toys that get her moving around and increase her heart rate can also provide much-needed mental stimulation for your cat. This can turn your cat’s attention away from spraying and towards positive interaction with you.
Give Your Cat Its Own Area
Make sure that your cat has at least one area in your home that is all hers. Dedicating a corner of a room to her, putting her bed, cat tree, or scratching post there, and letting her know that area is hers is allows her to feel like she has her own territory without spraying.
Keep Stray Cats Away/Not Visible to Your Cat
Seeing another cat outside her home is one of the major triggers that could make your kitty spray in the house. When you see a stray outside your home, don’t feed it. Shoo it away to keep it out of your cat’s territory and, hopefully, prevent your cat from spraying because of it. By the same principle, it’s important to restrict your cat’s view of the outside if she’s a sprayer, so that she won’t see cats or other animals and feel threatened by them. Yes, they can smell another cat’s scent from far away, so always be sure to shoo away outdoor pets that don’t belong to you.
Clean Up Sprayed Areas Right Away
Once you learn where your cat likes to spray in the house, it’s important to check those areas often and clean up any urine you find. You can use a black light to find areas in your home where your kitty has urinated. There are enzymatic cleaners that are sold that are supposed to neutralize cat urine and help to repel your cat from spraying in that area again. Make sure not to spray this near your cat’s litter box, however, or she might start rejecting it!
Take Your Cat to the Vet
Finally, if all else fails, take your kitty to the vet and have her checked out. You want to make sure that there’s not an underlying medical problem causing her to spray in the hours. Things such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, and liver or thyroid disease can all cause your cat to spray inappropriately in the house. Your vet can run lab tests to rule out disease as an underlying factor.