Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Help! My cat is urinating indoors

Friday, June 27, 2014

Marking or toileting?

Spraying small amounts of urine against vertical objects such as chairs or walls is a territorial marking behaviour. Entire male cats are the most likely to spray. 

Male and female cats urinate in a squatting position leaving a greater volume of liquid.
Medical problems such as cystitis, diabetes, kidney disease and obesity exacerbate abnormal toileting behaviour. 

Why do cats spray or mark?

Anxiety and stress are the most common causes of spraying. Cats are creatures of habit and like to have their own space and toys. Even though they are willing to share a house and bed with you they need places and things of their own to be happy. If they think that something that belongs to them is being taken over by someone else they feel threatened. They have to let everyone know that it is theirs. The natural way to stake their claim is to mark it with the facial scent glands or urine. This is like writing their name on their things. Putting urine or facial scent on a thing or place makes a cat feel secure, especially if they feel out of place, nervous or afraid.

What makes cats anxious?

• A new cat or kitten. Introduce a new pet into the household gradually. Let them get used to each other through a screen or glass door. Exchange their bedding and let them sniff and sleep on it. Remember to reassure and cuddle the established pet as well as the cute new one.

• A new baby. Let your cat hear the sounds and sniff the clothes of a new family member from a safe, private place. Give the cat lots of attention.

Changes in furniture or carpets and disruptions such as building or painting. Lock your cat in a room well away from tradesmen and the strange sounds and smells associated with their work.

• A strange cat wandering in the garden or even through the cat flap.

• The loss of a human or animal companion. Strongly bonded cats will need extra care and attention if mourning a friend who has moved or passed away.

Incompatible cats, especially if a lot of cats live together. Determine which cats do not get along and keep them in separate parts of the home with their own litter and sleeping areas.


Enriching a cat’s environment minimises stress

Cat scratching posts, toys that mimic prey, tunnels, outside runs and a variety of high spots and hideouts will keep your cat happy and stimulated. Vertical space is often more important than horizontal space. Some cats appreciate an indoor garden sown with grass, cat nip and cat mint. Find several toys they like and rotate them regularly. Your company is important. Even an old cat will appreciate a game with a ribbon on a stick or a glittery ball. Make your cat work for food by hiding it in various locations around the house or in food puzzles such as plastic containers with holes cut in the sides. 

Routine is important for some cats. Ten minutes each day play and grooming your cat to provide regular predictable attention that helps reduce their anxiety. Feed them at a set time.

What if I can’t identify or remove the source of the anxiety?

If you cannot identify or remove the source of the anxiety then provide your cat with a safe haven. A room where your cat can safely retreat or relax without fear of disturbance is ideal. A small, enclosed and elevated space lined with your worn clothes is also good. Most cats will mark a limited space with facial rubbing and bunting only.

Clean urine marked areas with a special enzymatic cleaner like Urine Off, available at Canberra Cat Vet, that eliminates the scent. If your cat can smell urine he will mark it again. You may have to lock him out of the room for a while to help him forget it.

Protect a habitual spraying site by placing dry food or a bed at the base. Cats are usually reluctant to spray their own key resources. Food and beds are also reassuring and may reduce anxiety. However, a stressed cat may move to other areas and mark there instead.

A natural pheromone spray called Feliway calms some cats and reduces the urge to spray and mark. Spray it on previously marked areas or plug a Feliway diffuser in or near the area he most marks.

You might find useful more hints on The Litterbox Guru

Never punish cats. If caught in the act they can be picked up and placed on the litter tray, stroked and calmed. Never ‘rub the cat’s nose in it’ as this will make a nervous cat even more likely to toilet indoors.

Cats with anxiety related behaviours like spraying often need evaluation for anti-anxiety medications in addition to the above changes to resolve the problem. Call us on 6251 1444 for a behaviour consultation if you cannot sort it out.

Search Blog

Recent Posts


face rub conflict check-up information night feline AIDS blood pressure prey poisoning diet touch depomedrol new kitten kitten litter box Canberra Cat Vet not eating rash panamax training train cortisone scratching post introducing cat containment radioactive iodine hyperactive scale slow wobbles petting cat dymadon paracetamol opening hours scratching aggressive urinating inflammatory bowel disease urination changed cat enclosure urine appetite microchip visit fear obese advantage fight pain relief cage best clinic home visit calicivirus thirsty vaccination carrier joints tapeworm enemies stiff pet nails cough fireworks feline herpesvirus vision weight open night desexing urinating outside litter spraying vet visit plaque senses blue new cat odour sick rough play litter corneal ulcer vomit overweight virus unsociable hearing adipokines sensitive bite runny nose best veterinarian eye infection rub skin checkup hyperthyroidism sense of smell collapse snot tartar introduce spray socialisation blocked cat poison blindness worming urinating on curtains or carpet kidney disease lilly hospital pet insurance hunched over liver dilated pupils obesity string learning hole fleas RSPCA health check best vet allergy bed head sore ears vomiting fat cat behaviour goodbye cat friendly allergy, hairball tumour examination diarrhoea whiskers rolls attack castration eyes echocardiography paralysed arthritis holidays snakes tradesmen salivation lame fits hunting bladder stones sensitive stomach love mental health of cats dementia roundworm kidney competition new year poisons free African wild cat constipation flea prevention snuffle gifts pain killer computer stare into space paralysis tick groom vocal cancer ulcers itchy fluid pills return home panadol award activity blind exercise eye ulcer runny eyes sick cat pancreatitis hunter annual check house call heaing panadeine jumping outdoor cat catoberfest antibiotics yowling twitching marking mouth breathing pred blood test fever revolution panleukopenia xylitol IBD vaccine sun birthday nose scabs toxic aspirin lump lily old cat blood enclosure kitten deaths kidneys cat flu poisonous plants herpesvirus cat enclosures breeder sneeze New Year's Eve paralysis meows a lot chlamydia behaviour change seizures aggression introductions hard faeces cystitis renal disease Hill's Metabolic desex biopsy photo competition skinny snakebite home senior breathing difficult abscess,cat fight pill AIDS prednisolone noisy breathing gasping ACT indoor cats sucking wool fabric abscess cat worms tooth hunters appointment blood in urine cryptococcosis grooming holes in teeth straining drinking more stress wet litter dry food anaemia massage thiamine deficiency strange behaviour dental treatment in season FIV bladder flea treatment cognitive dysfunction dental hypertrophic cardiomyopathy lilies foreign body off food open day high blood pressure restless crytococcosus wool skin cancer best cat clinic permethrin enteritis thyroid mass mycoplasma cranky cat unwell blockage cat history diabetes antiviral anxiety eye feliway sudden blindness rigid head ulcer headache change hungry cat fight aerokat pheromone lymphoma urine spraying christmas FORLS grass discount feline enteritis physical activity diuretics signs of pain old polish moving scratch introduction drinking a lot plants Canberra intestine panleukopaenia kibble cat vet behaviour flu sore eyes sore pica ribbon snuffles hypertension cta fight furballs holiday furball kittens poisonous holes snake bite snake bump dental check pain heart disease body language heavy breathing on heat insulin kitten play teeth bad breath spey mince food puzzles brown snake lick ulcerated nose toxins painful euthanasia client night pet meat tablet weight loss hiding comfortis decision to euthanase when to go to vet asthma worms weight control tick


A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions