Cat Litter Box Behavior & Spraying

Urine marking is an icky yet relatively common problem in cats.
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Although owning a cat is often a very rewarding experience, it has its own share of frustrations, too. Litter box issues are one of them. If your kitty for whatever reason is neglecting to use her box, it can take a toll on your home -- and your sanity, too!

Mating Behaviors

If your cat has reached full sexual maturity and is not yet neutered or spayed, urine spraying is a messy but very likely possibility, even if your cat previously displayed model litter box behavior. When tomcats are ready to mate, they often spray urine as a means of "alerting" nearby females to their availability. The urine's scent works in order to transmit the message. Female cats also spray to promote their mating presence during heat cycles. When your cat has suddenly abandoned proper litter box in favor of spraying, the desire to breed may just be the culprit.

Territorial Competition

As much as you may hate to admit it, cats are very territorial and competitive beings despite their cuddly and innocent exteriors. For example, if you just adopted a new kitten from your local animal shelter, your older resident cat may just express his disdain and jealousy by taking to spraying -- all over your beloved grandmother's floral patterned wallpaper -- ugh.


If your cat is forsaking his litter box for your bedroom floor, stress and anxiety just may be the reasons behind his unusual behavior. Cats don't respond very well to change, whether the change is a result of moving, the loss of a pet playmate or sudden household conflict -- think a complicated, drawn-out divorce. Your fluffball's natural reaction to his nerves may be eliminating anywhere other than his litter box, whether it's by accidentally going No. 2 on your area rug or urine marking the basement wall. Minimize the stress in your pet's life by spending more quality time playing with him, finding brain-stimulating interactive toys for him and giving him a private sanctuary within the home to be alone away from all of the chaos and uncertainty.

Litter Problems

Investigate your cat's actual litter and litter tray before jumping to any conclusions about his potty problems. If your cat is in any way dissatisfied with his litter box situation, he may protest and ban using it. Perhaps he doesn't like the indiscreet locale right next to your kitchen. Maybe the box is simply too cramped and uncomfortable. He might not be too keen on the strong synthetic floral litter scent, either. Consider all of the possibly negative factors that may be driving your pet away from proper litter box etiquette -- and figure out which ones need to change, stat.

Consider Neutering or Spaying

Neutering and spaying cats typically reduces pungent urine marking behavior, especially if the procedures are done while felines are very young, typically around 5 to 6 months. The less hormonally motivated a cat is, the less likely he'll be to want to leave his scent by spraying. This applies to both male and female cats. In rare instances, however, some cats may retain the patterns out of pure habit.

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