Inappropriate urination in cats

Cat spraying urination

Cats are usually clean, fastidious creatures by nature and should make use of indoor litter trays or loose earth in the garden. Urinating in the house is therefore not just unpleasant for owners to deal with but can be a sign that something is wrong and needs further investigation. 

Is your cat spraying…
Cats spray urine to mark territory and as a form of scent communication with other cats. When spraying, the cat will usually be standing, the back feet may make a treading motion, and the tail will be upright and quivering; urine is sprayed onto a vertical surface. 

It is a normal behaviour, particularly for non-neutered cats. Neutering greatly reduces incidences of spraying in both sexes. However, excessive spraying or spraying indoors can indicate that your cat is feeling insecure and stressed. 

…or urinating?
During a normal urination the cat will not be standing but squatting, over a horizontal surface. They may scratch at the area around the urine as if to cover it. Common sites for inappropriate urination are beds, carpet, baths and sinks. 

Why is my cat doing this indoors?
There are numerous reasons and it can be a process of elimination to find and treat the problem. 

Any cat starting to urinate in the house should be taken to your vet for a check-up. Illness is a common reason; this can include urinary tract infections and stress-related cystitis, or conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease or kidney disease. Let your vet know about any changes in your cat’s weight and drinking and eating habits too.  

Inability to pass urine at all – squatting and straining unproductively – is an emergency and you must contact your vet straight away. 

Other reasons can include litter tray provision. It’s important to have enough litter trays, with a general rule of one per cat plus a spare, ideally all in separate places. Trays are best put in quiet corners, well away from food bowls, water bowls and beds. Many cats prefer a fine, sandy litter without a strong scent. Some prefer the security of a covered tray but some do not, so it’s best to have options. 

Some other common behavioural and stress triggers include:
•    Social stress – conflict with other cats in the household, a large population of cats outside the home, or invasion of the home by strange cats
•    New additions to the family – new cat, baby or dog
•    Owner absence – holiday, change of work, change of shift pattern
•    Disruption of routine – building work, going into a cattery, people visiting 

For more tips on managing inappropriate urination, visit