How Do I Keep My Cat From Urinating on Everything?

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, explains it could be because of medical problems, marking behavior or toileting trouble and offers solutions.

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Q: A frightened, 2-year-old female declawed cat with a non-registered identification implant in her neck literally showed up at our back door and moved in. No one responded to our search to reunite the lost cat with an owner, so we had her checked out and kept her. Soon she was urinating all over the house: sofa, beds, towels, beanbags, blankets, etc. We assumed that she wasn’t pleased with her litterbox and have worked hard to keep it clean and sanitized. We even opted for one of the automated versions. We can’t keep her outside because she’s been declawed. She’s a sweet cat but we need a solution to this problem. I’ve never been around a cat that smelled so bad.

A: Whenever a cat urinates somewhere other than her litterbox, it is either a medical problem, a marking problem or a toileting problem.

To rule out a medical problem, the cat should be examined by a veterinarian, and a few tests, such as a urinalysis, urine culture, and bladder X-ray, should be performed. Once a medical problem is ruled out, the list is narrowed to marking behavior vs. inappropriate toilet behavior.

Most cats mark their territory by spraying urine on vertical surfaces. However, not all cats will do this. If the item that the cat wants to mark happens to be on a horizontal surface, the cat will squat to mark the item with urine. In this case, you have to look at what the cat is urinating on to try to determine if it is marking behavior. The bed and the couch could be considered “socially significant” items, however, towels, blankets, and beanbag chairs don’t necessarily fall into this category.

It sounds more like an inappropriate elimination problem.  Your cat may not like the litterbox, or she may prefer the spots she’s going on, or both. Your job is to make the litterbox more appealing and the spots she’s going on less appealing.

Add a second litterbox to the household. The new box should not have a hood on it. It should be in a low-traffic area, distinctly away from the first box. You should use clumping cat litter. Remove the stool every day, and dump the clumps of urine every day or twice a day, so that the box appears clean all the time for the cat.

To repel the cat from the areas she’s been urinating on, you need to use an enzymatic cleaner, one that claims to destroy the odor molecules and not just mask the smell. You can also repel the cat from a specific area by using Sticky Paws. This product consists of sheets of double-sided sticky tape. You put the Sticky Paws on the surface that the cat is soiling, and when the cat goes to that area again, she will step on the sticky tape. Cats dislike the way it feels on their paws, and this will repel them from the area. Once they learn that this is an unpleasant area to be on, you can remove the sticky tape and the cat should stay away from that area — hopefully.

If these environmental manipulations are ineffective, there are several psychoactive drugs that are often very effective at stopping cats from urinating in inappropriate areas. Good luck with her!

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Reader Comments

Jennifer Miller    Mississauga, ON

11/25/2014 8:57:30 PM

My 1-1/2 year old delclawed cat has (since a kitten) been urinating in the house but as a kitten I just took as the age. The cat stopped for a bit but now its just ridiculous, I can change and wash the litter box and I have seen the cat go somewhere else in the house (right after) and pee on something. The cat will even stand on the back of the dining room chair and pee down whatever is hanging on it, the kitchen and dining room tables, the chair while your sitting in it, the sofa, the toys, shoes, tub, stove, counter, my kids rooms are destroyed with pee, school bags, lunch bags, coats, clothing, carpets, highchair, everything and anything. As people enter my house that is all you can smell is cat urine. I have used many different special sprays specifically for cat urine to remove the smell and to stop them from returning to the area, vinegar, bleach, ect.. but nothing works. I don't leave anything on the floors even if you hang something on the back of a chair he will still get on it and piss. I don't know what else I can do. but I know my kids cant live this way nor can I all of my new furniture is ruined our clothes, toys ect... I need help to try and stop this behavior.

Bobbie    johnson city, TN

11/12/2014 10:28:10 AM

Mick all i got to say to you is you're a heartless person

Mick    International

10/12/2014 10:18:32 PM

If all that fails drop it off at a farm..

Amy    International

7/23/2014 1:46:43 PM

Ingi,to try and help you I read in a book not to use bleach,vinegar or any scented detergents.Using the previously mentioned can make the urinating worse because once mixed with urine creates an ammonia smell which the cats will not like. Its best to clean the area with 'natures miracle','outright','FON'or 1/2 gallon water mixed with 1/2 cup baking soda or neutralizer. 'The Fastidious Feline' by: Patricia B. McConnell, PH.D.

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