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


hunting enclosure antibiotics return home health check not eating nails castration cage cat flu vaccine straining cat enclosure AIDS lump meows a lot RSPCA sensitive stomach revolution cranky award stress old cat kidney paralysed paralysis bladder stones open day client night vomit scratch love ribbon thirst sucking wool fabric urinating vision chlamydia socialisation activity hiding pet rub kidneys sick cat sudden blindness scratching runny nose Hill's Metabolic sick new kitten desex painful dehydration bladder hunters train pica indoor cats urinating outside litter breeder learning snake wet litter rough play hypertrophic cardiomyopathy prednisolone fight food puzzles cough panleukopenia weight competition heaing enteritis face rub mental health of cats cat friendly skin cancer visit antiviral check-up dry food toxic hairball thiamine deficiency cat vet wool diet cortisone sun mycoplasma lymphoma lame arthritis attack mince cancer signs of pain urine spraying holes in teeth IBD carrier sneeze comfortis foreign body hyperthyroidism seizures drinking a lot photo competition hypertension salivation annual check sore pet meat rolls abscess ulcers eye snakebite bed panadeine home stare into space sensitive itchy aspirin cat worms COVID-19 spray blindness fat cta fight cat enclosures pancreatitis best cat clinic vomiting exercise poison lick desexing birthday best vet paracetamol joints best clinic lilies obsessive compulsive poisons runny eyes sore ears slow constipation behaviour change whiskers checkup ulcer litter box rash echocardiography grass FORLS when to go to vet fluid pills aggressive body language hyperactive restless eyes hospital Canberra jumping depomedrol noisy breathing moving fireworks hungry kitten appointment dental treatment training pet insurance intestine conflict diarrhoea strange behaviour eye infection holes yowling blood pressure cat fight xylitol coronavirus heart disease obese dementia crytococcosus overweight blood in urine vaccination advantage hard faeces odour spey christmas hunched over holidays new year unwell vocal snakes blood test radioactive iodine snuffle hunter blood new cat feline herpesvirus cystitis introduction poisonous behaviour lilly calicivirus litter panamax sense of smell insulin adipokines diabetes breathing difficult fever anaemia cat history allergy inflammatory bowel disease kitten deaths pain relief best veterinarian cat panleukopaenia tartar furballs tumour urine urinating on curtains or carpet polish tooth aerokat unsociable weight loss pets kittens dymadon roundworm free African wild cat cryptococcosis renal disease virus hearing collapse nose scabs Canberra Cat Vet allergy, feline AIDS obesity appetite spraying discount thyroid snake bite grooming fleas head snuffles cat containment pain thirsty change FIV introductions feline enteritis gifts tradesmen enemies senior paralysis tick groom examination fear liver sore eyes cats coronavirus gasping kibble poisonous plants tablet mass cognitive dysfunction introduce goodbye diuretics in season ulcerated nose pheromone wet food corneal ulcer worms kitten play scale furball brown snake computer treat prey herpesvirus dental fits bite bad breath drinking more dilated pupils weight control open night cat behaviour plaque decision to euthanase rigid head pill headache massage blockage hole opening hours petting cat ACT pain killer home visit off food tick pred toxins bump asthma aggression panadol information night heavy breathing old wobbles twitching introducing feliway euthanasia blind water dental check tapeworm stiff eye ulcer changed vet visit mouth breathing high blood pressure worming string laser pointer biopsy touch house call abscess,cat fight outdoor cat kidney disease senses urination permethrin flu anxiety poisoning blocked cat lily teeth blue holiday microchip scratching post flea treatment catoberfest skin marking physical activity New Year's Eve play skinny snot plants flea prevention on heat


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