How to Stop Your Cat From Peeing in the House
How to Stop a Cat from Peeing in the House
Cat pee anywhere in the house can make your entire home smell like a litter box. Cats' urine contains strong-smelling proteins they use to mark their territory, a scent that is nearly impossible to eliminate. Cleaning it can often wet the crystallized proteins and reactivate the odor. It can be upsetting and very stressful.
The best way to get rid of the smell in your home is to prevent the cat from peeing there in the first place. Ignoring the problem or yelling at your cat will not make the problem go away. To prevent the inappropriate urination, the reason for your cat's misbehavior must first be addressed.
The first step to solving the problem is figuring out its reason. By peeing in the house, your cat is trying to tell you something is wrong. He could be sick, anxious, or unhappy with his litter box, but it will take some sleuthing to discover the source of your cat's behavior. Once you find the cause, you can begin to find a solution.
Here, you will find possible causes and solutions so you and your cat can live in harmony again.
Cat Peeing in the House: Possible Reasons
A cat that pees in the house may do so because of a medical or behavioral reason, or maybe it's something else. Use these lists to trouble-shoot.
Medical reasons are the most common cause of incontinence in cats. Your cat should be checked by your vet to exclude these conditions:
Bladder stones or blockage. If your cat goes to the litter box often or exhibits any signs of pain or distress (mewing or crying, for example), or if its abdomen seems to be tender to the touch, then you have reason to suspect an obstruction of some kind. If the urine has traces of blood, then it is likely that your cat is experiencing serious blockage and must be taken to the vet immediately.
Urinary tract infection (UTI). If your cat pees small amounts quite often, it may have a urinary tract infection.
Feline interstitial cystitis. This inflammation of the bladder can cause a cat to need to pee so suddenly it doesn't have time to make it to the litter box.
If your cat's problem is behavioral, you'll need to find out why.
- If you have recently moved to a new house, have any new people in the household, or have gotten a new pet, your cat may feel threatened. Any change in the cat's environment or schedule may have a negative effect on its training.
- If your cat has gotten used to peeing in a certain spot, she'll keep returning to that spot because it smells like the right place and because she's gotten into the habit of going there. If she can smell the scent of her urine there, that's her cue to relieve herself there again.
- Is your cat peeing or spraying? It's important to know the difference. Cats mark their territory, especially when they feel threatened. Although neutered and spayed cats are less likely to spray, some still do. Is there any reason your cat would feel the need to claim or reclaim its territory?
- Cats also spray when they are stressed. If this is the case, there are many ways you can help to reduce your cat's anxiety levels.
Other Reasons: The Litter Box
When your cat starts peeing in the house, the litter box should be considered. All too often, we ignore the obvious: You rush your cat to the vet fearing the worst, only to find out that the problem is a simple case of user error.
A cat that is unhappy with his box will stop using it. Think about it: would you use a dirty, smelly toilet? Of course not. Cats are very clean animals, and some of them are extremely finicky about their litter boxes.
The Litter Box Itself: If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, this may be your reason.
- Have you recently moved the box? Cats adore privacy and lots of space, so make sure the litter box is in the correct location.
- Is the litter dirty?
- Are there too few boxes to serve all the cats in your house?
- Is the cat ever prevented access to the litter box?
- Is the litter box placed in a cramped spot? Does the cat have any reason to fear getting trapped there or not being able to escape easily?
- Is the box located in a location that offers no privacy?
- Does the litter box have a hood or sides that are too high?
- Has your cat ever been upset or interrupted while using the box?
- Are there any reasons your cat might have negative associations with the litter box?
- Is your cat expressing a preference for peeing on certain surfaces or materials like carpet, fabric, or dirt?
Note: A cat that has been declawed will have special needs when it comes to litter. You may need to switch to paper litter that is softer on those delicate paws.
Inappropriate Urination: Changing Your Cat's Behavior
Once you've isolated the reason your cat is peeing in the house, you can begin to change its behavior. This will take time.
- If your cat has been peeing where it shouldn't, you'll need to remove all trace of the smell or block off the area entirely. Clean the spot with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based one, cover with foil or plastic, and prevent access for several weeks to give the neutralizer sufficient time to work.
- If there is a new cat in the house, give them separate litter boxes. Give them different territories until they are comfortable with each other. Sometimes not getting along can cause cats to show aggression through urination.
- If your cat is threatened by a new baby, guest, or other change, give it time to adjust.
- Moving to a new home is a big change in your cat's life. Not only is the cat claiming and adjusting to a new territory, it might also be reacting to the scent of a former tenant's pet. You'll need to reassure your cat and completely remove all odors of other cats so your cat won't feel the need to mark its territory.
Don't forget to give extra attention, affection, and praise to your cat. Reassure your pet that it is a loved and important part of the family.
What Not to Do
Getting your cat to use the box is all about patience, not punishment. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Never rub a cat's nose in its urine or feces.
- Never yell at the cat or physically drag it to the litter box.
- Keep the litter box separate from where the cat eats or drinks.
Cat Pee in the House: Removing the Scent Will Prevent Its Return
There are several ways to stop your cat from peeing in the house.
First, you must remove the odor from your home. Your cat will keep returning to that area if he can pick up the scent. Clean up the urine as soon as possible. Wipe up the mess with a paper towel and then use a disinfectant and odor neutralizer. Avoid ammonia-based disinfectants because your cat will think it's urine and continue peeing in that area. A cleaning spray that lists orange oil in the ingredients works well. Cats dislike and will avoid the smell of citrus. A home remedy I use is homemade citrus cleaner made with orange peels. You can also use a good old-fashioned warm water and vinegar solution. Both are inexpensive and "green" alternatives to toxic chemical cleaning products.
Even if you can't smell it, your cat can.
- To make sure you got all the urine off the floor, use a black light. A black light will show everything, even in spots you didn't know about.
- You can also try moving your cat's food and water dish since a cat won't pee where it eats.
- Aluminum foil is another option. Cover the spot where your cat has peed with foil. Cats don't like the sound or texture and will avoid it.
Homemade Products to Stop Your Cat from Peeing There
These are are my homemade recipes for cleaning and repelling cat urine. I usually use a vinegar solution and a citrus spray. I like vinegar because it's better for the environment and better for me. If you have anyone in your home with breathing problems, harsh cleaning products can make things worse.
First, clean up the urine on the floor. Use paper towels or anything else you are willing to throw away. Then use either (or both!) of these two solutions:
Vinegar Cat Pee Cleaner & Repellant
This is the best method I have found to remove cat urine. It's also very cheap. Vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide: You can buy all these for less than five dollars.
- In an ordinary squirt bottle, mix three parts water to one part vinegar.
- Spray the affected area and let sit for a few minutes. This works better on hardwood or tile floors, but you can use it on carpet as well.
- Soak up the vinegar solution with paper towels.
- Allow the floor to become completely dry. If you are in a hurry, turn a small fan on the area and it should be dry in a couple of minutes.
- Once the floor is dry, sprinkle baking soda over the affected area.
- Take hydrogen peroxide and some dish soap (doesn't matter which brand) and pour it over the baking soda.
- Use a scrub brush to scour the floor. This will kill all the bacteria that was left behind.
- After you have scrubbed the area thoroughly, soak up the excess with paper towels and allow to dry.
Homemade Citrus Cat Repellant
This solution won't remove the urine smell. It is mainly used to keep a cat away from a certain area because cats hate the smell of citrus. I don't know why, but they do. I have been making homemade cleaning products for years, long before it was cool to be "green." I have used this outdoors many times to keep feral cats away from my garden. I love my stray kittehs, but I don't want them digging up my garden. This is safe to use in your home as well.
- Boil two cups of water in a pan.
- Add orange, lemon, and/or tangerine peels (about one cup).
- Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, and then remove from heat and let cool.
- Once it is cool, pour into a spray bottle. Add two teaspoons lemon juice and a squirt of dish soap (preferably lemon-scented). Shake to mix.
You can use this spray on furniture, walls, or parts of the floor you want the cat to avoid.