My Indoor Cat

How to stop a cat spraying indoors

How to stop a cat spraying indoors

What do cats spray?

Urine marking or cat spraying can be a common behavior complaint about house cats. You know your cat is spraying when its near a surface and puts its tail upright, its tail quivers and your cat makes a treading motion with its back legs. It then sprays a small amount of urine in a backwards direction onto a vertical surface such as your curtains, furniture or walls. The resulting smell of urine is very unpleasant and not at all wanted.  Before looking at how to prevent it, let’s first look at why do cats spray in the house.  This type of behavior can be a medical problem or a behavioral one. 

Why do cats spray indoors?

Cats, like many animals, communicate through smell.  If you’ve ever walked a dog, you know that your walk is going to be punctuated with them continually stopping to sniff and pee on everything!  Unlike dogs, cats don’t have a hierachical structure, they see themselves as equals, there is no top cat system.  They don’t like to share territories and because cats don’t like confrontation or change, they spray as a way of communication.   Spraying is a way for your cat to communicate with you or other cats to back off in a non-confrontational way.  So if your cat is spraying, it is trying to tell you something.  

Cats commonly spray when they feel stressed or threatened, marking out their territory makes them feel secure. The common reasons for feeling threatened include:

  • introducing a new cat to your home
  • a new cat in the neighborhood
  • changes in their routine
  • moving to a new house
  • rearranging the furniture in your home  
  • loss of a pet or sibling
  • a visitor or change to living arrangements

In some cases, certain medical conditions can also induce spraying behavior. These include:

  • Urinary tract infections 
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Neurological disorders

How to stop a cat from spraying indoors?

Once the habit of urine marking has been started, it becomes hard to break, so it is important to stop before it starts. Here are some prevention tips that might help in stopping a cat from spraying indoors.


Un-neutered cats are more likely to show this behavior compared with neutered cats. Neutering or spaying them can help to decrease the levels of hormones being produced which do not induce spraying. However, a small percentage of neutered male (10%) and female cats (5%) continue to show this behavior. The reason for this could be delayed neutering which makes them repeat the behavior instinctually. For this reason it is recommended to get them spayed before the age of six months.

How to stop cats spraying inside

Litter tray management

Keep at least one litter box per cat and one spare, so if you have two cats you will need three litter boxes. You need to keep litter boxes away from food and water. The litter box should be appropriate for the cat and placed in an area that is easily accessible. Clean the boxes daily and use clean litter several times a week.

Identify causes of stress

Identify what could be causing your cat to be anxious and stressed and work to remove this. For example, your cat may feel unsettled if you have moved to a new house or have rearranged the furniture because this changes the smell of the house. In this case, you can spread the scent of your cat around your house yourself by rubbing a soft cloth around their face and then dab on the place where the problem is occurring. There are certain products available that mimic the scent produced by the cat. If the reason for your cat’s stress is a new cat in the house, you should provide them with enough separate places to enable them to feel secure until they get used to each other.

How to stop cats from spraying inside your home
Why do cats spray indoors

Increase their playtime

Sometimes cats show spraying behavior to seek the attention of their owner. If this is the case give your cat more attention and increase their playtime with you. You can get toys and cat furniture for them. Your local pet store and online stores have a vast variety of toys and cat furniture. Playing a game with them is a great way to interact positively.

Use synthetic pheromones

Synthetic pheromones mimic the scent of naturally produced pheromones by the cat when they are comfortable in their environment. They make the cat calm and less anxious because sometimes the spaying behavior is caused by anxiety. These products are available in sprays, collars, and diffusers. This is definitely something that has helped my cats.

Look for an underlying health issue

Spraying might be associated with underlying medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and kidney diseases. These diseases can be deadly if left untreated. It is important to book an appointment with your vet to identify the cause.

Lastly, it is important with any behavioral issues that you don’t yell or punish your cats.  This will only cause the situation to get worse and your cat may become more stressed.  Cats do not understand punishment, so it is better to re-train them and continue to show the love and affection.  Over time, you can slowly help redirect unwanted behaviors and bring your lives back into harmony.

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