Theophanes is a New-England-based cat-owner, blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of life.
Is Your Cat Spraying?
One of the most frustrating aspects of cat ownership can be when our beloved pet turns our house into their own personal litter box. As much as we love our cats, having a house that reeks of cat urine is never a good thing. So, what are the reasons cats spray, and what can you do about it? Let's find out.
Why Do Cats Spray? Eight Reasons Why Cats Spray
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Bad Litter Box Training
- Sexual Maturity or Immaturity
- Messy Habits and Poor Awareness
- Major Changes
Cats Are Only Semi-Domesticated
Unlike dogs, cats are only a semi-domesticated species, and their behavior can be complex and completely baffling at times . . . but that doesn't mean there isn't hope. Below, I will explain all the common reasons why cats spray and what can be done about it.
I will also give solutions that won't break the bank since we all know that pet ownership is an expensive endeavor. Even if you use a cheap fix, the cats aren't going to notice or care—they're too busy playing in the box the cat tree came in anyway.
1. Urinary Tract Infections
The first thing you want to do is make sure your cat isn't spraying because of a medical condition. The most common medical reason a cat would suddenly start peeing in odd places would be a urinary tract infection. UTIs are most common in older male cats, but they occur in both male and female cats independent of reproductive status; they also occur in cats of any age.
Signs Your Cat May Have a UTI
- If your cat has had perfect bathroom manners for years, and there have been no changes to its environment, then you may want to consider taking your cat to the vet for a diagnosis.
- Cats with urinary tract infections often like to pee on smooth, cool surfaces. This could be your bathtub, sink, kitchen counter, or anywhere else that is smooth and cool.
- If your cat appears to be straining to pee, yowling while trying to go, or is feverish, a vet should be sought out immediately. A UTI can kill a cat if it goes on for too long.
2. Bad Litter Box Training
Most cats like a clean environment, and part of that is having a specified area—a litter box to use as a potty. With that being said, cats are very individualistic creatures, and some of them never get this memo. It is a fairly common problem for rescued ferals to find the idea of a litter box a bit confusing. Even worse still, these same cats can teach their kittens the same bad manners.
The Importance of Litter Box Training
Prevention is actually much easier than retraining. If you happen to be raising a litter of kittens, please consider keeping them in an appropriate space with their mom until they are weaned. This will allow only enough space for sleeping, eating, and using the litter box, and will hopefully ensure that they learn what the litter box is for. (This is not to say that you can't let them out for supervised exercise from time to time!)
3. Sexual Maturity or Immaturity
Almost all unaltered male cats will begin to spray when they reach adulthood. It's not their fault—this is inherent in their biology, and they are only doing what cats have been doing since the dawn of catdom. Males will spray to leave a scented calling card in case a female in heat comes into the area. (It's like the cat version of setting up a dating profile! It doesn't matter if there are no females in your home—a tom must live in hope!)
The Importance of Spaying and Neutering
Again, prevention is the answer. If you adopt a male cat that you do not intend to breed, please have him neutered before he hits a year of age (six months would be even better!).
Sometimes, unaltered female cats will display this same behavior, so make sure she's spayed as well. If you find yourself with an old cat who was neutered too late, you can still try to curb the behavior by washing down any marked areas really well. If the scent is no longer there, they shouldn't have the need to remark it. If the scent is still there, it won't matter if the cat is altered or intact; they will likely keep spraying on the spot.
Tips for Detering Spraying
Keep in mind cats actually detect scent better than dogs do, so the removal of carpet and the use of some pretty hefty cleaners may be needed. In the meantime, you may have luck spraying vinegar on and in the area. Most cats really don't like the smell of vinegar and may try to avoid the area.
Just like the tomcats in the previous section, most cats mark something to claim their territory. This doesn't have to be about a mate; it can just be a big sign reading, "Private property, get out!" This is most often a problem when a cat who has been kept by itself for a number of years suddenly has to deal with the arrival of a new cat or kitten.
Just think about that for a moment: How would you feel if you lived the good life completely alone, only to one day come home to some stranger living in your house that you couldn't get rid of?
Dealing With a Bully Cat
Another common scenario is with a multi-cat home and another cat who is, to put it lightly, a bit of a bully. At that point, it doesn't matter if they are used to living in a group home; the newcomer is just annoying and hostile, and who wants that? In these situations, I actually suggest finding the bully a more suitable home—it's not worth the stress to your older residents.
Try a Slow Introduction
This is not to say that new cats should never be introduced into a household; it only is to say that if you are going to do that, take the cats' feelings into mind, and do the introductions as slowly as possible:
- Start off with the new cat in a cage (accessible to the resident cat or cats).
- Watch their behavior. Are they hissing? Spitting? Puffing up their hair?
- Leave the new cat in the cage until the resident cat(s) stops doing the aforementioned behaviors.
- When everyone seems comfortable, let the new cat out of the cage into only one room of your house.
- Observe the reactions and move on from there slowly.
Try Using Feliway to Reduce Unwanted Behavior
Now, if you are in a situation where prevention is too late, there are still things you can do: Furiously clean the sprayed spots and invest in a can of Feliway. Feliway is a synthetic scent that is completely odorless to humans. It mimics the smell of a cat's facial pheromones.
Cats have scented glands behind their ears, and when they rub their heads on things, they mark it as their own territory. Feliway comes in a spray that can be applied manually to problem spots, or it can be used in a diffuser that you plug into the wall.
Transfer Scent With a Cloth
If you really don't have the money or prefer a more natural method, you can collect your cat's scent yourself on a damp washcloth by stroking it behind the ears, and then transfer that scent onto the problem areas around your house with the towel. This takes time and a lot of repetition; at the very least, do this once a day (the more, the better).
5. Messy Habits and Poor Awareness
Just as with any species, some cats can be virtual geniuses, while others can leave a lot to be desired in the brains department. I had a cat once who was so unintelligent, she'd just stare at you with a blank expression all day, and you could almost hear the static running through the space between her ears.
Every time she used the litter box, she'd literally back up until her rear was hanging over the edge. She'd leave a fresh turd on the floor just outside the litter box every time and then scratch and paw at the sand to cover up a treasure that never made it into the box.
Get a High-Walled Litter Box
Be patient with these messy creatures . . . this is not an act of malice; they really are just operating on autopilot. I found the best way to deal with this issue was to make a high-walled littler box so that my cat couldn't hang her rear over the edge. The photo below shows a nice DIY example made from a tote.
Would you believe me if I said that cats can exhibit similar behaviors to obsessive-compulsive disorder (at least in the sense of hyper-cleanliness)? Some cats just have to have a clean litter box, period. And if they don't get what they want, they'll just turn your living space into a litter box until you get the hint.
These cats usually need their box cleaned at least once daily, if not after every use. They are as picky as they come and will have you wrapped around their little paws! Lucky for us, self-cleaning litter boxes and toilet training do exist!
7. Major Changes
Cats can get very set in their ways, and changes to their environment can be very stressful to them. Things like a new dog, a new baby, sudden loud noises, or a move to a new location can upset them greatly, and they can start marking as a way to comfort themselves and confirm that they do have territory.
If at all possible, prevention is best. When you bring a cat to a new home, try using Feliway plug-in diffusers to ease the transition (mentioned above). I am also a big fan of getting a cat used to a kennel or cage—some place it feels safe to go to when changes in the environment are a problem. This type of setup (with a comfy bed, food, and toys) can keep them safe and happy and be advantageous in the following scenarios:
- when fireworks or festivities are going on outside;
- when guests are over (to prevent them from running around or running away);
- when a new dog or baby is being introduced to the household; and
- when they are acclimating to a new location.
Comfort is key here, and if your cat is relaxed, he or she will be much less likely to spray.
Part of the reason people like cats so much is they are very similar to us in many ways. Sadly, this doesn't just count for their intelligence and playful manners, but also in the way that they age. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, senility kicks in, and our geriatric pets lose their way.
It's a sad descent, but if you have a cat that is getting up there in years that is suddenly acting oddly, senility is likely the reason why. This is especially true if it is accompanied by other signs of senility like wandering the house at all hours, yowling at nothing, or just acting bizarre.
How to Combat Aging
My first cat lived to be fourteen, and in the last year of her life, she was clearly going out of her mind. She stopped pooping in the box, and for no reason, started using the middle of the floor for a potty. It's a hard and heartbreaking situation because there is no way to reverse this age-related progression.
I can't offer much help if you are in this situation, but if you happen to have younger cats, please know that keeping a cat's mind and body active in their younger years has great preventative qualities when it comes to aging. An older cat who is still playing with toys and is not obese is far less likely to suffer from age-related problems. Besides, playing with your cat, hiding their food in treat balls, and interacting with them more has to be one of the happiest remedies to any of the issues we discussed today!
Consider the Many Causes, and Do Your Research
Spraying is a big issue, but it can be combated with knowledge. Today, we learned that unaltered adult male cats are by far the most guilty of any of the categories. This is something to consider when adopting a cat, but you must also consider the cat's breed.
Some breeds have a pretty bad reputation for marking, especially hybrid breeds like Bengals and Savannahs. These breeds have wild cats in their recent family trees, which makes this very undomesticated behavior all the more likely. Even so, hybrids aren't the only breeds that are said to be problematic. Even the wistfully beautiful and very domesticated Egyptian Mau sometimes gets a reputation for this ungainly behavior, and they are not the only ones! So, do your research, and in the end, we hope you and your kitty will spend a happy life together.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Lisa on March 04, 2020:
My 4 year old cats both male and female started spraying all over my house. I now have to keep them on a spare room where they don't spray. The minute I let them out they spray. I have tried everything, my house is immaculate yet they want to spray. Please help I can't let them out and will have to rehome or risk everything I own to be covered in piss.
Chris on January 14, 2020:
My 16 year old neutered cat recently started spraying for the first time. He just had a very extensive panel done the week before, and there were no issues with blood or urine. It started after playing with his favorite string feather toy, which he has started to hump the air while playing. He stood in one of his litter boxes while doing this and sprayed the wall behind. I know it was actual spraying due to the tail shaking. He does have beginning stage kidney disease, but is not showing symptoms after many years on the brink. He eats well and is energetic. What could be happening here?
irene plumridge on January 13, 2020:
Help my male cat keeps peeing on my boyfriend's pillow and only his side of the bed do you know why and what I can do to stop it
Amber on September 13, 2019:
My 3 year old neutered male just started spraying on my bed. We went away for 3 days and had my aunt come over to feed him and his female litter mate. Since being back he's been territorial and aggressive, and today he sprayed my comforter.
Anne on April 28, 2019:
Help. My cat has been spayed, but all the cats from around seem to gather round my home and follow my cat when she goes out, the thing is, I’m getting the smell of cat wee at the bottom of my stairs by the front door, do t know if it’s my cat or the others spraying, can smell it outside my door sometimes. Any suggestions how to get rid of the smell, it’s not very strong, if it is my cat does anyone know why she would do this. Thanks in advance
Tanya on November 19, 2018:
My cat is about 8 yrs old. We rescued him from the out doors 2 years ago and he has suddenly started spraying on my kids stuff and me myself. What is happening? Now my husband wants to get rid of him.
lori st.james on October 27, 2018:
My cat is almost 3 or 4 years old he was neutered probly a little too early to be honest but as soon as he could be his home their life he has never Sprayed I on him neutered so early he never learned how to spray but my dilemma is that now about 4 months ago out of nowhere my cat was how to spray ever being mirrored his entire life how do I fix this and more portly what could be the cause of this does anybody have any answers
April Jolley on October 02, 2018:
My older cat is spraying on my bed. He has done it several times since my daughter brought home a dog. What can i do??
Anna on September 14, 2018:
I have a 4 year old female she's declawed, but not spayed, my son wants me to take in his cat which is also female she has been declawed and fixed if i bring her into my home will either cat start peeing else where or even fight with each other they are both the same age?
Joel Rosen on June 22, 2018:
My email address is
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 21, 2018:
Hi DPF! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Actually tom cats are just super territorial. They spray everything they can whenever they can and once something is marked they'll come back to remark it. I don't think the fact it's a human bathroom or it had soiled feminine hygiene products had much to do with it, though it'll likely be a problem from here on out, especially if other toms come and remark it as well!
DPF on May 16, 2018:
Work in a child care center, we have noticed that a outside cat not ours is spraying our outside bathroom door... it has happened a couple times and we are perplexed. this bathroom is also our staff bathroom and shortly after the spraying event I noticed that there were Fem. Hygiene (used and wrapped) in the open trash, in that room, that had not been taken out to the curbside city container. is it likely that this smell triggered the unknown Tom to spray that door. there is a slight opening at the bottom of that door....
Shirley Crawford on March 22, 2018:
Help! Has anyone had a cat spray on them?? I have 2 that have done it in the last 2 weeks. Both are neutered. Vet said she has never heard of cats doing that to people.
samari on February 08, 2018:
that was instresting
Julia Valentine on February 07, 2018:
Very clever article. Discovered that my Sweetie Gonzalez is going senile, though!
Ashley on January 14, 2018:
We have two female cats both spayed. One has started peeing on things! What is the issue?
Cat behavior on December 08, 2017:
My male cat is rubbing his testicels on the carpet while it’s the session and non of the female cats wants him and he’s running in and out meowing
Rachel on August 01, 2017:
Unfortunately, he was the heart of the family. My two remaining girls are struggling....I can tell they are lost. Muffin (my kitty that passed) was the caretaker, the comforter, the lover, etc. He bathed everyone in the house at regular intervals, he would sit back & wait till everyone else ate before he would eat. Just think of a loving, nurturing mother and you would have a really good idea of Muffin. The girl who has started spraying has been 'talking' nonstop and I'm trying very hard to mimic the baths she got in addition to what I already do normally. Thank you for your condolences.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on July 31, 2017:
Any household upset (stress) can cause a cat to start spraying. The death of another cat that they're bonded to can certainly fall under that category as well as a few others. You didn't mention if the passed kitty was top of the household hierarchy or not... if he was then this is an additional upset as new territories may have to be disputed among the ones left behind. Unfortuneately there's not too much help I can provide - I mean I can't really say don't let anyone die, that just doesn't work... but I can say that offering your other cats additional hiding places, maybe litter boxes, and other comforts may help this transition go a little smoother. Feliway may help with territorial disputes as well. Best of luck, sorry I couldn't be of more assistance, and my condolences for your loss. :(
Rachel on July 30, 2017:
I knew most of this after having lots and lots of cats throughout my life. I was hoping to see something related to grieving, but nothing specifically mentioned.
My oldest male cat just died several days ago. Tonight my youngest female sprayed my leg. My oldest cat was very bonded with all my other cats. He was the caretaker of everyone. He'd go through the house bathing each of the 3 other cats, my dog, and me. He was always in the 'father' mode. With him gone, it has devastated the entire house.
I am assuming because my youngest girl is so devastated, she started spraying me. Any ideas?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 21, 2017:
Tammy: Well spraying on shiny cold surfaces could mean he has a urinary tract infection... it's very common in male cats and I would definitely at least have this possibility checked out. The fur chewing on the other hand is a sign he's likely nervous about something. Have you introduced a new cat, pet, baby, or human to the household? Those are the most common reasons a cat might be upset... other things could be loud noises or other changes in the environment. Make sure he has a nice cubby to hide in if he needs to - this can just be a box with a blanket in it in a quiet place in the house. Good luck!
Cherry: I'm sorry cats who are still intact are just going to keep spraying... There's really not much you can do there besides neuter him or keep him outside.
Tammy on April 21, 2017:
I have a male cat about 4 to 5 yrs old. He has recently started chewing his own fur and now spraying my house. He has been fixed since he was 5 months old. But what is really weird about him spraying is the places he is spraying. He has sprayed my stove and my coffee pot and my toaster and now tonite I have noticed he has sprayed my fish tank, yes my fish tank. I'm in desperate need of some information. I don't want to have to get rid of him because I love him so much. It's breaking my hearr. Could you please help me figure out if this is a medical problem or just marking his territory. And if you are anyone ever experience this to. Thank you
jean komis on January 13, 2017:
I have six cats 3 male 3 female all fixed 1 is 16 years old the others are all
7 years and used to everyone for the 6-7 years past. My ginger cat has suddenly started spraying always in the same places so it is easy to spot and I understand that white vinegar is the best to stop smells and clean up. He is also not as friendly to the other cats and quite a bully and attention getter he is always around me (so I am the alpha) can it be jealousy and how can I cure it short of getting rid of him? I keep 4 pans for all clean morning noon and night. What is ginger's problem?
Cherry Raymonds on September 28, 2016:
Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his spraying everywhere.
We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house...some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.)
Andrea on August 17, 2016:
I've had my cats since they were 6 weeks old. I adopted them and they were "fixed" already when I got them. All his life (he's 5 now) my male has acted like he was spraying but nothing came out...until yesterday! He was as surprised as I was and immediately tried covering it up. Is there any way to get him to stop?
ozzy on April 01, 2015:
so i take my male cat to vet to get fixed i had him form 11 wks and the vets dont fix here till their 6 months yet the vets says he already done but he still spary and acts like he isn't why this
Susan Guinn from Florida on February 03, 2015:
Andea, Wow now that is scary. I have heard of them putting their toys in the water to clean them, do you think she is doing that? Will she take them back out of the water then and lick them clean?
andrea on January 24, 2015:
Hi , can someone help please . My. Cat had kittens four days ago healthy , caught her this morning putting them in her water bowl ?????
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 22, 2015:
This is a fantastic hub. I've been dealing with this issue for almost a year. My two adult male cats did it last summer, before I planned to move from my apartment. (Now I have to pay the debt for the carpet bill.) They're now doing it again, but not as much, since I've relocated the litter box and surrounded the carpet area with a carpet runner and doggie training pads and have stopped, even if I vacuumed the floor with baking soda, sprayed with Gone spray, and steam-cleaned it a few times . I believe they have an UTI. But do you have any ideas for affordable vet care?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on December 01, 2014:
I have another article just on Bengals that might answer a few of those questions (https://hubpages.com/hub/The-Joys-and-Hazards-of-L... But yes, they are extremely muscular cats, especially the males. They should be heavy as bricks, it's part of their wild heritage (being crossbred with Asian Leopard Cats.) Since Asian Leopard Cats eat a lot of fish in their diet they have passed on their love of water to the Bengal breed which will often splash, cavort, and even swim if you let them. The above linked article shows you how some precarious ones I got the chance to take care of learned how to flush toilets and drain water dispensers. SIGH! They are the most intelligent breed I have come across, even surpassing Siamese and re-domesticated ferals.
Having lived in New England my entire life Maine Coons have always been popular and are nostalgic to me. They're a fun cat to be around. Some of them are real characters. Sounds like you have one of them. :)
Happy cat keeping, I hope my answer has helped you!
Susan Guinn from Florida on November 28, 2014:
I really enjoyed this article. We have a bengal cat in the neighborhood that comes to my home often. She is left outside constantly, so she wanders despite my conversations with her owner. Are all bengals very solid and extremely heavy? I always pick her up and drive her back home, but she will break my back. I love her though she is extremely affectionate. This is how I got my Maine coon by the way, the two of them were raised by this owner. The owner said to me one day, you may as well keep her, she likes it your home better. I would love to have her too, but when I bring her in the house our Maine coon will attack her terribly. She is letting her know this is her territory and she has a new home. Bengals are awesome, and very beautiful. However I did not know they enjoy water? My maine coon is very smart. She eats with her paw like a fork, and she will only drink running fresh water. She takes about 7 baths a day, and has never had a flea. Great Post!
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on July 27, 2014:
Oh, well, seeing as he was fixed so recently I would be a little concerned this might be a medical complication, not a behavioral problem. I definitely would call and ask the vet.
If it's not medical it could be getting him fixed changed the dynamics of the household. Perhaps one of your females took the dominant position and is keeping him away from the litter box. Adding more litter boxes, cleaning the areas he's already used, and temporary caging might be helpful. It may also be the type of litter box you're using. If he's sore and your litter box has high sides he might not want to step into them.
Good luck with him! I hope you can solve this problem.
Chris in the UK on July 27, 2014:
I have just had my 1 year old male DSH cat castrated. He has always been excellent in his toilet training. But now since he was castrated 1 week ago he is now toileting everywhere but the litter box. I have 3 cats in total: 2 neutered females who are 2 years old, and this male that is just 1 year old - i adopted him when he was a few months old. they all play and get on really well. but in this last week hes popping in the bath, all over the floor around the litter box and not in it. Can you help please? any advice as to why?
Lorna on February 09, 2014:
Hi pls help we live in Qatar and unfortunately there area many strays in the area. A delightful little chap adopted us about 2 months ago and is making my life hell he only messes in our beds poops and wee's he seems to be doing it deliberately and makes a point of messing in each 4 bedrooms every day. I am really fond of him as he is quite sociable and VERY affectionate
Other strays in the area try coming in but never come up to our bedroom area. Our doors are always open and he loves going outside but insists on messing in our beds HELP
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 30, 2014:
Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your loss Jenny J. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, these things just happen. I don't think your cats were having problems with each other because of illness - as you didn't mention you noticed any symptoms... Generally once two cats have bonded these things don't effect their behavior towards each other - and two cats that have not bonded will have spats over territory either way. It sounds like your kitty may have just died choking on something or perhaps he had a blot clot in his lung, a brain aneurysm, or maybe he got into something he shouldn't have. Sadly, there are a lot of things that could suddenly kill a cat without prior symptoms. They don't often happen in front of their human so you might not hear people talking about it.... but I am sure some of the cats that appear healthy before disappearing might at least be partially blamed on this.If you need answers call a vet to do a necropsy. I hope you and your son can recover from this experience and maybe in the future the things you have learned here will help any future cats you may have. My thoughts will be with you.
Jenny J on January 30, 2014:
Thank you for the insight i really appreciate your help. UPDATE...sadly my indoor cat died suddenly we can't explain it he just died gasping for air, all of our hearts are completely broken :( . Brought the other cat in to comfort my son who was absolutely distraught, even though knowing he could spray again...he did not and he has not for this whole week. its like nothing ever was wrong, now only we don't have our other baby any longer, i wondered if do you think maybe my other cat sensed something was wrong with him like he was sick and this is the reason he was spraying and they didn't get along with one another ?
Beth Perry from Tennesee on January 25, 2014:
Thanks for the lead to this Hub, Theophanes. Very interesting info and I have bookmarked it! Going to Vote Up, too.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 13, 2014:
Well, I hope this article was of help lilcupcake. Cats rarely do things without reason. I hope you can make amends with your kitty.
Jenny J: Sounds like your cat or cats didn't react well to you leaving for a few days. This isn't as uncommon as you might think. You'll need to scrub down the pissed-on areas really well no matter what you do. After that I strongly suggest you invest in some FeliWay and spray it near the areas he's pissed. This should help calm him. You can also try the wet wash cloth trick. Take a damp rag and rub behind the problem cat's ears and then take the rag and rub spots near where he's pissed that you won't mind him remarking through head rubbing. This will reintroduce his own scent as an owner of the territory and should ease his frazzled nerves. Sounds like your more dominant cat saw the lack of a top cat (you) and decided to try for that position! Happens sometimes... I would strongly recommend these things as well as supervised visits into the house. The longer the cat remains in the garage the worse he'll feel like he's invading on someone else's territory and the worse he'll act up. You might want to consider caging him in-house when you can't supervise him until things settle down. It may take a while. Good luck!
Jenny J on January 13, 2014:
PLEASE HELPPPP!!!! my family went away on vacation 3 days. We adopted two brother cats that are 7 years old they have levied here for almost two years and have always got along fine. One is more timid then the other one. the day we were packing for vacation the more timid cat was acting different like if i put something int the suit case he would run or jump, then left for vacay came home and the more timid ( isay more he really isn't timid he is shyer with new things on the whole he is fine) he starts to pee on everything. My other cat can't stand the sight of him and hisses and wants nothing to do with him. So i serrated them one in the house the cat that's peeing has the garage right now. my husband wants to get rid of the shyer one...i want to FIX this! i feel HELPLESS!
lilcupcake on January 11, 2014:
I want you to know, that you may have just possibly saved my cats life. months ago she started doing exactly what you said, pooping anywhere but always peeing in the litterbox. I just thought she was being bratty because that's her personality. Lately, she's started falling off of things (such as the back of the chair) while in a dead sleep. That worried me, which lead me here. thank god.
Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on September 15, 2013:
Awesome, thank you! It was really weird, all of a sudden the third cat went after Seth and they started fighting. We finally got them separated and put the "rescue" cat in a crate until we took him to the humane society the next day. But ever since then, Seth and his brother Osiris have taken to fighting whenever they see each other. And it started real slow, they'd start fighting once in awhile, and then we had to separate them completely because it gradually became whenever they'd see each other. Seth isn't the nicest cat in the world however. He's actually quite a jerk, but I can't help it, I love him anyway lol.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 14, 2013:
Ah- in that case it's a security issue. The third cat must have really freaked him out. It's a good thing you kept them in the same room together though. That should make it easier on all of you. The Feliway and/or the washcloth should help a lot with security issues and making them feel safe. I do suggest keeping the cage/crate for at least a little while after they're both free together. Serves as a nice safe escape should one cat need it. :)
Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on September 14, 2013:
Oh thank you! They were actually raised together, since they are brothers, and never really fought until one of them accidentally had a run in with an unfixed male cat that we were holding to take to the humane society. We recently had to renovate the room the one cat was in, so we've had to essentially use the caging method until their appointment next week. So at the moment, both cats are in the same room, but one is in the crate (a large crate, I try to be as humane as possible) while the other is out, and then we switch them.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 14, 2013:
Ah well, that's a complicated question Daughter of Maat. Where the two ever living together? Or where they always separate? If they were only recently separated how long has it been?
If the two were raised together you probably have a better shot of a happy reunion, if not then you might have a challenge ahead of you. Either way it is workable. Fix them both, give them both time to heal (1-2 weeks) and then start your reintroduction process. Now I don't know how you have them set up... maybe you have one upstairs, the other down, or perhaps one lives in a closed bedroom... doesn't really matter except it does for reintroduction because at this moment wherever the cat lives it will now consider its territory. This is important to know because now you're probably in the situation where you're introducing the second cat to the first's territory. IF you have a third space in the house neither cat has been (let's say a basement) this neutral territory might be best for this. Otherwise I highly suggest the caging method. I wrote about this before in another hub Caging Cats: When and Why it is Sometimes Necessary (scroll down to the section on introducing new cats.) In the meantime there is a product called Feliway that's great. You can buy at pet stores or feed stores. It's a spray that to humans has no scent but it encourages cats to mark their territory by head rubbing not spraying. You can also use the wet washcloth method where you rub the cats ears yourself with a wet washcloth and then rub that onto whatever marking post you want them to use. It'll transfer their scent in this way and achieves the same thing.
Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on September 14, 2013:
I have a question, :) I have two male cats that I haven't had a chance to fix yet and they have reached sexual maturity, which means if they see each other they fight like.... well... cats and dogs. We keep them separated at the moment to prevent injury and are schedule to get them fixed, but I was wondering if they will stop fighting after they lose their.... sexuality? :) I'm hoping they'll stop spraying too, I'll be cleaning the house with vinegar before they get home!
Ro on June 23, 2013:
I have a male cat named Bubba who was left outside our 3 acre home and his Mommy just didn't dome home and he was still very tiny. Of course we took him in but we had so much trouble with him peeing on beds, in laundry baskets, my purses - you name it he pees on it. I called around trying to find him a home and this woman told me I was horrible for not having his urine and kidney's checked yet. My Vet didn't feel it was necessary but he did it any way and some of it had to be sent to Ames, IA to be tested and he was just as the vet knew - he was ok with no medical problems. They have a name for it Ideopathic something and I'd love to find him a very save outdoor farm that has a great set up for the cats and where there are no blacktops around like we have. He's neutered and front declawed but with 4 cats I had to to keep my furniture in one piece. We want to only find this cat a very good home as our grandson lives with us and he's 10 and he l loves this cat and we need to find him a new and better home for him as he and two other females live in the basement and are starting to turn wild. So we feel bad about that from time to time and bring them up and every time that boy finds a place to pee. I live in NE IA - ANYONE HAVE ANY IDEAS FOR ME?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on February 08, 2013:
Sounds like your cat is just quirky. I have two cats right now that drool profusely when they're happy. It's a bit gross, as I imagine would be spraying! Sounds like he just looses concentration and control in the moment. I wish I could offer advice that could help with that but I don't think there is anything you can do...
lisa jackson on February 06, 2013:
my male cat has been fixed , two years ago but when he comes for a cuddle he seems to get over excited and sprays , whys this?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 24, 2013:
Well, I'll wish you the best of luck there! Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
bumlifting on January 24, 2013:
"My cat was fixed at 4 months and we've had him since he was a baby".
I guss that introduction i had written wasn't clear on wehter he was fixed or not. Sorry, i'm not very good at writing or spelling. But yes my cat is fixed. My cat was fixed at 4 months. The soonest we could get it done.
:-/ that's kinda what i figgured. He's a messy, i'm going to continue toilet training him anyways. He was soooo close to peeing in the toilet yesterday! He understands the concept of poop and pee goes in there. He'd love watching my hubby pee and he's always had a curiosity of the toilet. He's not afraid of the flushing either, he enjoys watching his poo go down. Hopefully once he does start using the toilet he'll keep his rear down. Thanks anyways.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 22, 2013:
Well it could be two things really. Is your cat fixed? Male cats will pee like this when they're marking territory. Unfortunately if he is fixed then it's just a behavior that's ingrained in his routine... I've had a few messy cats (even one that was female, UGH) and I have yet to find anything that teaches them proper toilet techniques. Sorry if that's not the answer you wanted.
bumlifting on January 22, 2013:
My cat was fixed at 4 months and we've had him since he was a baby. He's 3 now, but all his life he's been a butt lifter. Even in a lidded tall box he'd manage to get high enough so it'd leak through and down the side. He's been switched to a regular box in the bathroom. Why?, cuz I'm toilet training him. When he first got his new spot he was peeing IN it, now.3 months later, he's decided to lift. Potty training was going great, till the lift. His box is cleaned daily, and totally scrubbed squeeky clean every week or two. No matter what he'll lift. I've even lightly pushed his bum down while he went, still didn't stop him. I'm gonna take a wild guss and say he's sloopy. Which means i can't toilet train him anymore since i don't want cat piss all over the bathroom. Odd how when in the tall boxes he lifted just the right amount to pee outside the box, once put in a regular he lifts just enough to hit the wall. Every area around his box was swiftly tarped. So am i totally SOL on getting him to stop, and quit the toilet training. Or would putting something around the box that'd make his pee splash back at him fix it?
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 13, 2012:
DzyMsLizzy: I am not so sure your cats are marking or are just sloppy. Either way, if you can't use a covered kitty litter box my best suggestion is just to line all the target areas with cardboard, poster board, or cloth and either throw it away every time you clean the box or launder it if you chose cloth. It's not a perfect solution but it does make the mess easier to manage and the smell down a bit. Hope that helps.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 13, 2012:
Kris Z: No, you cannot neuter your new cat but you can spay her. Spaying is a good thing to do and it doesn't matter if the cat is already an adult (unless it's super old, then it's rather iffy if it should be bothered with or not but this doesn't seem to be the case with you.)
Dj: Breeders usually have a few methods to keep their cats from doing too much damage. Many breeders cage their males so they don't have to deal with spraying. Personally, though I realize this is the easiest option for the human, I think it might not be the best for the cat. Some other breeders will dedicate one room of their house to their breeding project, keeping the male in there 100% of the time and the female in there to be bred and raise kittens, because kittens can be destructive beasties too. of course the room will get sprayed and damaged but at least it's a smaller area to clean up and maintain control over. Some breeders that only have one male sometimes just let them wander free and hope they don't start spraying. Sometimes they don't, most times they do.
Lori: Do you want this cat to be a housecat and family pet or do you just want to take care of him? Quite frankly you can't blame a cat who has lived it's whole life outside not to understand that peeing in the house isn't OK. After all it's what he was doing when he was roaming around free. Unfortunately he was already an adult when you neutered him so the likelihood of him stopping is pretty small. Many people who take in feral cats will build shelters for them outside and feed them but not necessarily try to bring them in the house, or only do so when supervised or under extreme situations (sub zero weather for example.) At this point he's a semi-wild animal and will probably stay that way in some respects, though by all means with patience he may tame down a bit.
Jen Duncan: I hate to say this but your cat probably is somewhat of an accidental sprayer. First he got the UTI and started peeing in appropriate places to get your attention and now the smell is there so he feels the need to keep refreshing it. My suggestion? Clean the area VERY VERY well and invest in some FeliWay which you can spray in the same spot. It should encourage him to head butt instead of spray. That being said it could also be due to stress... I think one of the best ways to deal with outside stresses like the neighbors dogs is to give him a place he feels safe. You can put a box or a cat tree or somewhere he can cuddle in a quiet dark place of the house so he can retreat there whenever he gets overwhelmed. That's the best I can do for that! Sorry I can't make your neighbor's dogs cooperate more!
anonomyus on March 08, 2012:
Iam considering buying a male cat 2yrs old from a rescue shelter he is uneutred. So my q is if I have neutred will he spray?
Jen Duncan on February 22, 2012:
I have an 8 yr old male cat. Who has suddenly started to mark the house. He didn't do it after our first daughter was born, didn't when we got a new female kitty, didn't do it when all of a sudden his litter mate was killed by dogs. He literally has started suddenly. we had him checked by the vet, he had a UTI, which we treated with antibiotics. But he still sprays. I am 9mo pregnant, but we have not done any furniture moving, or any huge changes. We have neighbors who just installed an invisible fence for their dogs, and the dogs go nuts any time there is a noise. I assume this could be a trigger for stress. Also, we have 2 new male cats who wonder around our driveway and at times into our back yard. I also assume this could be a stress trigger. How can I help him relax with the barking dogs, and strange cats wandering? He hates dogs! he will attack them if given the chance. How do I get my neighbors dogs and cats to cool it? LOL
TENKAY from Philippines on February 17, 2012:
Thank you for an informative hub. I had a male siamese who was a seasonal sprayer, when the neighborhood lady-cats are in season/heat. Until he died, I was not able to solve the spraying problem. I got a female persian cat (for 3 years now) and thanks God, I have no problem with her, yet. I was able to bred her twice already. I have a big breeding cage (a former parrot cage I bought second hand) where I kept the pair for 3 to 5 days. After the male cat goes home, I let my cat stay inside the house. She goes back to the cage when she has her kittens.
Lori on February 10, 2012:
Hi. We recently took in a cat that we arent sure of is feral or just abandoned. He will let us pet him but that is the extent. We just had him neutered but he has started spraying. I know he is under stress because he is used to being outside but we live in Michigan and winter is cold here. We wanted to give him a better life. Right now he is hiding under the bed where he has been since we brought him home from the vet. What should we do?
Megan Carl - Mane Alternative from Utah on May 29, 2011:
Thank you for the very informative article. I have dealt with a few of these things in the past - most have been successful thru patience and love. (sometimes thru gritted teeth. lol)
Kris Z from New York on April 05, 2011:
Can you neuter an older female cat? I recently (like 3 days ago) rescued an older female cat, about 3 years old, can I still get her neuter?
CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on November 04, 2010:
My cats are starting to wet- we have just started decorating- it think it is the upset and the paint smell- all the family expect me to sort it- now vet and cat psychiatrist!
Dj on October 26, 2010:
I am wanting to breed my cat but want to know how you keep a male cat in the same home without having to deal with the male cat spraying the house when the female is in heat. HOW DO BREEDERS DO IT!! You mentioned something about a cat room??
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 18, 2010:
Hi- This was a great article with all of the right answers--for most cases! ;-) To other readers of this post--yes, he is right--these things usually work!
We just have a weird situation.
We have a small problem with 2 of our tabby cats--one an orange male; one a gray/white/black female. (All 4 kitties are spayed/neutered). The particular orange tabby who is the culprit came to us, injured. We rescued him, had his wound treated & had him 'fixed.' The problem was, he'd been outdoors for we have no idea how long..and the vet said he was approx. 8 months old at that time (2007). So, he'd already developed "the habit."
My problem is, Icannot use vinegar, because their favorite 'accident' spot is IN the litter box. I've caught both of them squatting appropriately, then, halfway through, raise up their butt & let fly out over the top of the box.
It APPEARS deliberate..but, reluctant to use the vinegar, as I do not want to chase them away from litter the boxes entirely!
We have small bathrooms, and our only option is those triangular boxes that fit the corner of the room. Sometimes, the sprayers hit the middle of the floor; more often, it is the wall, or the side of the vanity.
This creates a lingering odor problem that is impossible to clean beyond a good soaking in the product "Urine Gone."
Why? As the house is not new, there was already beginning to be some lifting of the linoleum, so the one box near that, the urine runs down the outside of the tub & gets down under the floor.
On the other side, where they 'get' the wall or vanity, it is wood paneled wall (I know--who puts paneling in a bathroom, for pity sakes??!!), and the other is a woodgrain vanity sink cabinet...of course, made of that cheap composition board garbage, which, when wet, swells up. This errant pee has soaked the bottom of that cupboard, and run down the wall behind the baseboard and hence under the linoleum on that side.
We cannot afford to tear out/replace the cabinet or floors.
So....what to do?? I don't have space for a large tub as in your suggestion. The only sort-of solution I've had is to use packing tape to tape up a sheet of plastic tarp material behind the litter box, in the corner, and draped down into the box, buried under the litter.
It works for a while, but soon enough starts to smell & look disgusting on its own. I have to remove it if guests are coming.
So, mostly, I just try to spray and over-spray the Urine Gone everywhere, and let THAT soak in, hopefully helping some.
That said, there is still an odor that you will notice upon walking in the door if you don't live here and have not grown 'accustomed to it.'
Sigh. ---Sorry for such a long rant as a comment on your article--really meant more as a request for any other suggestions.
Michelle on June 04, 2010:
Help. I am going thru it right now. I think it started when we put a doggy door on our skidding glass door out to the screened in room. I think he saw a cat outside and started spraying in the screened in room. He started spraying in the house. 5 weeks now. We took him last week and the vet stated that he had an inflmmed bladder. I think she gave him a pain meds. We currently have him a basement room with his food on one room and kitty litter in another. We want to get the carpets cleaned before we let him out so he does not smell the urine. We also have another cat that is with him. How long do you suggest we keep him quarentend from the rest of the house? Help!!!! N
Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 20, 2010:
For a kitty litter box, we actually use a tub like the one you have above, but instread of cutting out a slit from the side, we cut a hole in the corner of the cover, and place the side with the hole in the corner. This reduces mess greatly!
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on August 27, 2009:
That's too bad! I know I wish someone else wrote this article when I was having problems (just about one of each cause. haha) Sounds like Froggy was stressed out about something and reenforcing his territory's boundries. Some cats will do this even when they see/smell a strange cat outside in the yard (through the window for indoor kitties!) Or when they hear dogs barking if they're not used to it, etc. If the stresser goes away sometime sthey stop on their own. Oh well, now you know! :)
David Fallon from Pomona, CA on August 27, 2009:
extrememly helpful! I wish I had had this article with my cat Froggy...he sprayed for years and then mysteriously he stopped one day, as if finally seem to understand how horrible we thought his behavior was lol
VeronikaProkopetz from Trail on March 27, 2009:
Hi Theo This is an excellent article very educational. Like you said, some cats just dumb. One of my kitty is not the brightest in a crayon box. He always walk to a different beat of the drum, even when he was a kitten. Now he is fourteen years old and suffering from temporary senility and IBD. He is skinny as a rake and his on steroid's. Sometimes he looks so confused about his litter box, he forgets where it is. I feel so bad for him. But I do love him just a same. If he wasn't around he would leave a large hole in my life. I have almost lost him twice. Each time, thanks to my Vet he was resusoitated.. I dread the time when I will have to make the decision to let him go.