How to Stop a Neutered Cat From Spraying

Cats spray for a variety of reasons once they reach sexual maturity, and neutering a cat usually nips this problem in the bud. Unfortunately, neutering sometimes won't stop a cat who is spraying urine outside the litter box and you'll have to take other measures to stop a neutered cat spraying.

Cat Relaxing On Kitchen Counter At Home
Cats spray when they reach their sexual maturity.
credit: Nimrod Shlagman / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Cat urine emits a pretty horrible odor that's hard to get rid of, so figuring out why your neutered cat is spraying urine around your home is important. Once you pin-point the reason, you can more easily stop the behavior by addressing the issue that's bothering your cat.

Signs of cat spraying

Although neutering usually stops a cat from spraying, 10 percent of neutered male cats continue to spray even after this procedure, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Signs of cat spraying include:

  • A pungent odor of urine in the home
  • Yellow stains on the carpet or walls
  • Puddles of urine on the floor
  • Urine stains on the cat's bedding

Visit the veterinarian

Many cats spray urine when they aren't feeling well or are under stress, especially when they are suffering from a urinary tract infection, kidney issues, diabetes, or thyroid issues, according to the All Feline Hospital. These medical conditions can cause pain that prompts your cat to urinate outside of the box. A visit to a veterinarian will determine if your cat is ill.

Treating the health issue may help resolve your cat's inappropriate elimination once your cat is feeling more like himself. Unfortunately, if your cat continues to spray after he feels better or gets a clean bill of health, then he may have a behavioral issue due to stress. In some cases, medication might help solve the issue. Your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to calm your cat and help discourage his marking.

Get more litter boxes

Sometimes cats spray urine around your home because there aren't enough litter boxes around, especially in multiple cat households. As a general rule, you'll need to have at least one box per cat plus one. So, if you have two cats, you'll need three boxes.

Having multiple litter boxes ensures that each cat has access to a litter box at all times. You'll also want to ensure that there is at least one litter box per floor of your home and that all cats can easily access the boxes.

Change the litter boxes

Sometimes cats don't like the type of boxes they have and will start to eliminate outside the box instead. Older cats may also suffer from conditions like arthritis that can make using litter boxes with high sides very painful for them.

Solve potential litter box problems so you won't have to deal with any cat spraying smell in your home by changing the types of boxes you have. For older cats, try boxes with very low sides to make accessing them easy.

Increase the size of the litter box you have if you find your cat is accidentally spraying urine just outside the box due to its small size. Some cats like enclosed litter boxes while others don't. Set up both types for your cat and see which one he uses more to determine the type of litter box that's best for him.

Clean up existing urine

A cat spraying smell is one that isn't just unpleasant for you but it's one that attracts your cat back to where he's sprayed before if you don't fully clean away the urine. On solid surfaces, use a non-ammonia based cleaner because the scent of ammonia can mimic that of cat urine, attracting the cat to that spot to urinate again.

For fabrics, upholstery, and carpeting, use an enzymatic cat urine cleaner that sinks down into the fibers and eliminates the urine and its odor, recommends the Nebraska Humane Society. After blotting up as much of the urine as you can with paper towels, pour cool water on the area and blot again. Then, apply the enzymatic cleaner and let it dry.

Another solution is to try home remedies for cat spraying like mixing three parts vinegar to one part water to make a fabric and upholstery cleaner that also gets rid of urine odors, recommends Animal Planet.

Try different types of litter

Your cat may not like the feel of the litter you are using under his toes, so try a few different types of litter. Pet stores and grocery stores offer a variety of litters, including those made from corn, clay, recycled paper, silica, and walnut shells. Put out a few litter boxes, each containing a different type of litter, for your cat to use. The one used the most is the favorite type.

Scoop the box daily

You don't want to use a dirty bathroom and neither does your cat. For this reason, it's best to use clumping litter in your cat's litter box because you can scoop away urine and feces daily to keep the box as clean as possible for your furry friend.

If you don't have the time to scoop your cat's litter box daily, consider switching to an automatic litter box that does the scooping for you. This way, your cat consistently has a clean litter box to use.

Discourage neighborhood cats outdoors

Cat urine marking is sometimes a territorial behavior and if your feline friend sees neighborhood cats through the window, he may start marking his territory by spraying urine around your home. Your cat is spraying urine to send a message to the outdoor cats that your home is his territory, according to the ASPCA.

Discourage neighborhood cats from hanging around your yard by installing motion-detecting sprinklers. These devices won't hurt the outdoor kitties but will make your yard a less desirable place for them to hang out.

Use a synthetic feline pheromone

Cats use pheromones as a way to mark their territory and to make themselves feel safe. Synthetic pheromone sprays mimic this scent for cats and give them a sense of security. These synthetic pheromone sprays have no discernible scent to humans, so they won't bother you or your family.

You'll find synthetic feline pheromone sprays or scent diffusers in pet supply stores. Use them in areas where your cat is frequently marking to make your cat feel less anxious and less likely to continually mark those spots with urine.

Reduce conflict between pets

One of the main causes of a neutered cat spraying urine around your home is conflict between pets over territory and food. The neutered cat spraying may feel bullied by other cats or dogs and spray to make himself feel better by claiming his territory with urine. Help reduce conflicts between pets by providing plenty of resources for your cat, including:

  • Ensure all pets have their own spaces to sit, like comfy cat beds.
  • Give your pets each their own food and water dish.
  • Hang carpeted shelves on your wall to create spaces for your cat to hang out when bothered by other pets, especially dogs.
  • Place cat condos around your home so that your cat can sit within them or on top of them to feel safe.
  • Most importantly, train your dogs not to chase or badger your cat.