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

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.

ingi    International

6/2/2014 1:25:16 PM

I have eight cats 5 boys and 3 girls. They are all neutered they are all healthy and they have all been living together for the last 5 years. A stray cat started coming into the house a month ago and since then the weeing has started. On tables, chair legs, couches, cushions, the wooden floor, curtains, the side of the bath, walls, carpets,everything and anything and everywhere even on tiled surface in every room of the house.
I shoo the stray cat away when I am here and see it but I am at my wits end and don't know what to do any more. Every morning I wake up and find more spots all over and I am now spending at least one hour a day cleaning up sometimes twice a day and I have at least one load of washing every day of stuff that has been weed on.
I try to keep all the doors closed so they have access to only certain rooms, but I can't close every room off as then they can't get in or out. Most of them use the outdoors to toilet, I have a nice big flower bed that they use and is only there as their toilet.
This problem started a month ago and it is getting worse. I absorb the wee, rinse it thoroughly a few times and then use and either a citrus solution or scrubs ammonia or a vinegar solution to wash everything every day and it is still happening.
I work from home so cannot keep everything closed up as there are people coming and going - the cats are used to that, and I have to leave a window open for them to get out if they want to which also allows the stray in, who sneaks in at any chance he can get. I think he caused the problems as all my cats really don't like him and the problem only started since he started coming around. One of my cats is also a stray who just arrived here. The others took a while to take to him, but after a short while everything settled down and was peaceful.
I love my cats but this is driving me mad. Somebody please please help me!

Renae    Sandpoint, ID

9/22/2013 1:30:11 PM

First total cruelty to de claw a cat. Often the tenderness in the paws makes them not want to use the littler box , it hurts to dig, some cats get infected paws. Paws will stay sensitive, so ripped up newspaper may be OK.

Judith    Medway, MA

8/30/2013 1:58:37 PM

Hi, I got my male cat at 5mths old, he was neutered at 6 mths and he still urinates on furniture about 1ce a week, and/or when he catches me off guard, so it definitely is behavioral or marking territory. I do clean with an oxy pet cleaner that seems to work pretty good. He is good about using the very clean litter in upstairs bathroom. All bedroom doors are closed. I will put another litter in downstairs bathroom, but very curious as to why this makes a difference? He does get very lonely and constantly wants to play which I think is part of his behavior issue. Will they ever outgrow this urinating issue? Ruth from NJ on 7/24/2013 mentioned 2nd litter box worked. Were you eventually able to OPEN your bedroom doors and remove plastic from furniture? I will try sticky tape too. Thanks everyone for your input...

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