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Question DetailsAsked on 9/21/2011

How do I detect if my cat is spraying in the house?

I think one of my cats is urinating in the house, i.e.not in the litter box. I am interested in finding out what how to find the location ( I think I smell urine at times) and if there is a way I can stop the cat(s) from spraying. I adopted these feral cats six years ago to save them from being euthanized.

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3 Answers


It's pretty hard to miss if your cat is spraying or urinating outside of the box. It can be a bit more challenging to find the spot/spots.
You can use a black light to find urine stains - it will illuminate the area.

With multiple cats, it will be difficult to determine which is soiling outside the box. If you can determine that, first have him checked out at the vet to make sure there aren't any health issues. Soiling outside of the box is often an indicator that the cat isn't feeling well.

Is it a consistent problem - never uses the box - or just a once a while issue? If the latter, it may be more behavioral than health related.
If it is a behavioral issue, there are some "tricks of the trade" you can try. First, get a good enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly remove any traces of urine. (I like Anti-Icky-Poo. If you can't find it locally, you can get it from several online sources.) Make sure you've removed all traces of urine - even a small amount left will bring the cat right back to the spot.

If he's soiling just outside of the box, try a larger box or different i.e., if you currently use a hooded box, try an open one. Some cats don't like feeling trapped or closed in with covered boxes. Alternately, other cats may feel too "exposed" in an open box and prefer a hooded one. Experiment to see what works best for your furkids. Also, set out a couple of extra boxes with a completely different kind of litter to see if the problem is with the substrate. My old kitty had a definite preference and would soil outside the box anytime we tried a different brand than he was used to.

If he soils away from the box, laying aluminum foil over the area can deter them. Cats don't like to feeling of foil under their paws. Another option is laying a chair mat or plastic rug runner (the kind with the raised points on the bottom) over the area with the points up. The cat won't walk on the mat, of course. It may just send them somewhere else, though, and your search will start all over again.
Check to see if there could be something in the immediate environment that might have scared him away from the box. Have you changed the location of the box? Moved furniture or have outside noises close by that could have startled him? Could one of the cats be annoying the offender when he's in the box so he chooses to go somewhere else? Cats tend to connect these disturbances with the box itself and can be put off their box if anything negative happens when they're in there.

Finally, talk to your vet about spaying/neutering if they're not already altered. Ferals, especially, tend to hold on to those instinctual behaviors like territory marking.
Good luck and repost if you have additional questions!

Answered 8 years ago by ThePetCompany


I agree with the above. A ferrel cat is a big problem. A vet will confirm.

Answered 8 years ago by help1968


The black light mentioned previously, is available at local pet supply chains as a flashlight-type device called Stink Finder. The black light used at the vet to look for ringworm on pet skin is called a Woods Lamp. Basically the same thing.

Answered 7 years ago by houstonmarie

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