Cats spraying or soiling indoors is one of the most unpleasant and frustrating problems a cat owner can face. It results in many cats being abandoned and re homed every year when the owner loses patience and cannot solve the problem.

Spraying or soiling is unlikely to just be a case of your cat being lazy. It can be caused by a behavioural issue or a health problem. Most of these issues can be improved if not resolved if treated in the right way.

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Medical Causes

The first place to visit is your vet. They will be best placed to provide a medical examination and diagnoses. Indoor soiling can be caused by a number of medical conditions including diabetes mellitus, cystitis, liver or kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, arthritis or spinal and pelvic injuries. It can also be a result of treatment with steroids, a bacterial infection, or a dietary intolerance. If your vet can diagnose a medical problem then they will be able to prescribe suitable medication and treatment to help solve the problem.

Behavioural Causes

If a medical reason is ruled out then look at the behavioural problems that could be the cause. Firstly look at the litter tray your cat has and where it is positioned. Cats can feel uneasy using their litter tray in certain places.
One of the most common mistakes made is placing the litter tray near to where the cat is fed. Cats will not tolerate toileting and eating in the same area, make sure they are not in the same room where possible. Is the litter tray in a busy room or area where the cat cannot have the privacy it needs? If so move it to a quieter area or the house, or try a covered litter tray.

Has the cat become uneasy using the litter tray because it has been startled or scared by something happening whilst they were using it? Observe your cat and see if you can spot a trigger for your cat avoiding the litter tray. If nothing is obvious then try and build some more positive associations from your cat for the litter tray. Some gentle persuasion or treats may help get your cat back on track.

Perhaps the cat is upset by a change in the type or brand or litter you are using. Cats are sensitive creatures who don’t like change. If you choose to change the litter then introduce it gradually, mixing it in with what they are used to for a few weeks before changing it over completely.

Territorial Marking

One big behavioural problem that will result in your cat spraying around the house it territorial marking. This may not cause any issues when your cat is marking its territory outside the home, but inside it is another story. A cat will surround its territory with its scent to ward off other cats and make it feel more secure in its own area. Territorial spraying occurs on vertical surfaces such as walls and curtains, normally around the entry and exit points to the home. Spraying inside is a sign that your cat is feeling insecure about something in its territory. Look for reasons outside the home such as new cats in the neighbourhood or changes to the surrounding area. Inside the home you may have rearranged the furniture or brought new which has unsettled the cat, making it feel it needs to spray in the house. If you have longer term territorial spraying you may wish to consult a professional behaviourist.

Cleaning Up

Whatever the reason for your cat spraying or soiling in the house you must make sure that each time you thoroughly clean the area with a proper biological stain and odour remover. Normal household cleaners will not remove the scent that the cat can smell. A biological stain and odour remover will break down the urine crystals and remove them fully. Failure to clean up properly and remove the odour will almost certainly result in the cat going back to that spot again.

Remember, there are many different things to try when your cat has behavioural issues. Consult your vet, local pet care professional or pet store staff who can all give you advice to help solve the problem.

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