Ask Seth: Cats Urinating in House

Hi Seth, We have 10 cats in the house – all rescue/stray cats.  These are the ones we decided to keep, but now there are 7 males and 3 females – all neutered/spayed of course.  However, we're starting to have to clean on a daily basis where one of the male cats may have urinated up against a door/wall, etc.  It's very difficult to keep ahead of this problem so that our house doesn't have that "cat urine smell".  Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks, Atlanta member

There are usually three common causes for cats marking the walls: medical, territorial, and behavioral.  I will briefly discuss all three.

Medical
Some cats can experience urinary issues that can include blood in the urine, increase in frequency, and even infection.  Urinating outside of the litter box can be a sign of something is medically wrong.  To confirm this, I recommend having your vet take a look at him.  Don’t be upset if the vet does not find anything, this simply rules out health issues as the root of the problem.  Some overweight and arthritic cats can urinate outside the litter box simply because the litter box is too far away or they may not be able to get to the box in time.  If this is the case, I would place a litter box in the room where the marking is happening.

Territorial
It is common and natural for both male and females to mark their territory.  Marking occurs usually on vertical objects and is not followed with the pawing (covering) of the area as they do with a litter box.  You can lessen the need for the cat to mark an area by using the cats’ pheromones or a commercially available pheromone spray.  To get your cats pheromones, simply use a cloth and rub your cat between the eyes and the ears.  Then wipe this cloth on the area he marks and repeat this for several weeks.  The synthetic pheromone spray that I have seen success with is called Feliway.  You would spray the effective area daily for weeks and you should notice the marking will decrease.

Behavioral
Your cat may be intimidated from one of the other cats or even an outside cat.  If this is the case, simply keep these animals separated.  Your cat may dislike the type of litter that you provide or even doesn’t like the box itself.  Try to place different types of litter in different boxes and see which one he prefers.  One additional stressor is the addition of new pets or the loss of others.  In this case, an animal behaviorist would be recommended to get your pet through this adjustment.

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