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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How Do I Keep My Cat From Urinating on Everything?

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Reader Comments

Emma    International

11/18/2015 7:37:23 AM

Hello. I struggled with my cat peeing everywhere in the house. I was seriously thinking giving her away but one day I found about a product called "Cat Spraying No More". I gave it a shot and surprisingly enough, it did the trick and my cat started using the litter box!

I've made a review site for the product and you should definitely check it out if you are having the problem with your cat(s). Hopefully this will help you like it did me. -Emma


sammy    newington, CT

8/20/2015 9:51:54 AM

My cat was peeing ALLLL over the house. Here's what I did to help LINK HIGHLY recommend it. The behavior stopped within a couple days

Suzanne    McKinleyville, CA

7/24/2015 11:15:17 PM

My vet put my occicat on clomiprimene (SP?) which has helped. Since I began using Plantlife's RELAX, an aromatherapy oil, he has stopped peeing outside the litter box. I put one drop and just one drop in the palm of my hand, let it warm, rub my hands togethers and then touch the top of his head. His overall anxiety dropped significantly the first time I used it. Cats are very sensitive, so do not put the drop directly on them and put it only in a place they cannot lick. A full drop directly on a cat's head would be way too much for them.

Cher    Eugene, OR

4/26/2015 12:06:13 PM

BS to all the comments stating that the cat urinating out of the box is due to a declaw issue and pain. I have 5 cats. Two are declawed. Three are NOT. Guess what? My cats that HAVE their claws piss on EVERYTHING! I have 9....count them......9 litter boxes, various types of litter to see which they prefer. I have tried Nature's Miracle, enzyme destroyer, litter box scent destroyer, No spray, plus bought that pheramone stuff. Over a thousand dollars SPENT! NONE of those work! I am to the point where I am ready to toss my CLAWED cats outside cause my DE CLAWED cats are NOT pissing on my furniture, bed, linens, clothes, pillows, tables, counter tops, shoes, brand new carpet, rugs, wood furniture.

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