During her heat cycle, an unspayed female cat will urinate throughout her territory to let males know she's ready to rumble. Male cats use their urine to mark territory. But when their territory is also your house, it becomes necessary to try to curb this behavior. Spaying and neutering are the best solutions to this issue. If you choose not to spay or neuter, stopping their urination may require a multifaceted approach.
Why is my cat peeing everywhere for attention?
If your female cat has started spraying because she is in heat, there's a very real possibility that it's attention-seeking behavior. But it's not your attention she's vying for. By spreading her fertile scent, your cat is actually trying to attract a mate.
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In the throes of cat pee cleanup, it's easy to get frustrated with your feline. Remember, however, that your cat is simply doing what her instincts tell her to do. Contrary to popular belief, cat spraying doesn't happen out of spite. Your cat isn't seeking revenge for a perceived slight, even if she pees on your bed right in front of you.
It's important to keep this in mind when resolving urination issues. In order to succeed, you need to stop thinking like a human and start thinking like a cat.
Why does my cat pee when in heat?
While being in heat isn't the only reason that your cat might be peeing in undesirable places, it certainly is a big contributing factor in most unwanted cat urination situations. Your cat is likely exhibiting this behavior in the hopes of finding a mate.
When many animals mate in the wild, they first find each other through pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals with a scent that have the capability of affecting hormonal reactions in an animal of the same species. A quick and easy way for cats to excrete pheromones is through urine. The scent not only lets their suitor know where they've been but also that they're ready and raring to go.
The importance of spaying and neutering
Spaying and neutering usually does stop your cat from marking in unwanted areas most of the time but not 100% of the time. Some pets can still be territorial after spaying/neutering. Remaining intact can cause great frustration for an animal. It can also lead to certain medical conditions and, of course, unwanted litters. Sometimes even a spayed or neutered cat will mark territory, for instance when there's someone new (animal or human) in the home. This often resolves with time.
But another less often discussed reason to spay or neuter is to reduce the chances of your pet from running away. Because of the reduced health issues and likelihood of running away, spayed female cats tend to live 39 percent longer, and neutered male cats have an increased life span of 62 percent!
Spay to stop a cat peeing
The easiest and most effective way to stop your cat from spraying is to spay or neuter them. If left intact, your female cat will experience a heat cycle. These cycles happen at least every spring and fall; however, they are also known as polyestrous, which means she can potentially go into heat multiple times per year. This translates into multiple opportunities for her to drive you crazy with marking, yowling, and repeated escape attempts in addition to unwanted litters of kittens every year.
Your cat's heat cycle is just as stressful for her as it is for you. You may find yourself dealing with some undesirable cat behavior, but her excessive meowing, inappropriate peeing, and even fighting are all being driven by strong natural urges she can't control or satisfy. You'll both likely be happier if she's spayed before entering the first heat at around 5 months of age.
How to stop a cat in heat from peeing everywhere
Block views of male cats
Pretend your doctor tells you that even though it's your favorite, you need to stop eating chocolate cake. Resisting temptation would likely be quite difficult, but it would be even harder if you sat a chocolate cake on your kitchen counter where you could see it and smell it. The same is true for your cat. When she feels the urge to mate, watching other cats stroll by your house is stressful, and it may cause her to urinate more in an effort to attract their attention.
Cat owners can help by blocking certain views from their windows. Provide your cat with an aquarium or bird feeder to watch while pulling the blinds on windows that give her a view of the neighbor's cat or local strays. Removing certain visual stimuli may not completely resolve urination issues, but it can help a great deal.
Distract her with visually stimulating toys. Petmate Butterfly has a realistic fluttering butterfly inside a clear orb that will keep cats fascinated for hours. PETBIA Interactive Cat Toy has a feather that randomly pops out of holes to capture her interest.
Keep her litter box clean
Even when they're not in heat, cats use urine to leave behind their scent and mark their territory. For domestic cats, their scent is typically the strongest in and around the litter box. If a cat can't smell herself when using the box, she's likely to urinate in it to reclaim the space. Hopefully, your cat will notice her scent fading and make an effort to remark the litter box rather than urinating in other places.
Use a self-cleaning litter box to minimize scent. PetSafe Self-Cleaning Litter Box captures urine in silica crystal litter that locks in scent molecules. The automatic rake gathers the used crystals and puts them in a container on one end of the litter box. If you don't have a self-cleaning litter box, it's best to make sure you're scooping often and periodically wash out the litter box with hot, soapy water. Because of plastic's porous nature, it tends to retain smells. After washing the box, you can use a diluted bleach solution but never use bleach before washing out urine!
It's also important to clean up accidents promptly and thoroughly. If your cat pees where they shouldn't, clean the urine as soon as you find it with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Remover. Cover the spot with foil or plastic to give the enzymes time to completely dissolve the smell and block your cat from accessing the area again. Any urine scent left behind is a green light to pee there again, so make sure you clean well.
Medical causes for a cat peeing everywhere
If your cat pees on your bed while you're sleeping, your couch when you're watching TV, or otherwise blatantly urinates where they shouldn't, they may be trying to send you a message about health problems.
Certain medical conditions can cause a cat to urinate more frequently and do so where they shouldn't. These can include but are not limited to:
- Bladder/urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Inflammatory diseases
- Bladder stones
- Kidney disease
Your cat can't simply talk to you to tell you something is wrong, so they may try to leave clues in obvious places so you can help. Showing you medical issues is a sign that your cat trusts you completely, so don't frighten them with irate behavior. Instead, check with your veterinarian so they can run a urinalysis to find out if your cat is experiencing health issues.
Arthritis is very common as cats get older. About 90% of senior cats eventually get arthritis. Although arthritis doesn't actually cause more frequent urination, cats with this condition may not be able to comfortably lift their hind legs to get into the litter box. As a result, they'll just urinate anywhere. Getting a litter box with lower sides can help or if you're handy with a saw, you can cut an opening into one side of the litter box. Yes there will be more litter on the ground in this area but it's better than urine on your living room carpet.
The bottom line
Cats urinating where they shouldn't can be due to anything from territory marking to being in heat or even medical problems. Keeping your cat's litter box clean and ensuring that there are no other spots where urine smell is present is a great way to keep them from peeing outside their box. Blocking a female's sight line to male cats is a way to help a cat in heat. Spaying or neutering your cat is the absolute best and easiest way to ensure that they stop marking in unwanted places.