If your neutered male cat is spraying -- or urinating outside the litter box at all -- the first thing you should do is take him to the vet. Once you’ve ruled out medical problems, you can look for other causes.
Neutered male cats are especially prone to bladder and urinary tract problems -- including infections, obstructions and urinary stones -- so get him a medical checkup pronto. Male cats have longer, slimmer urethras than female cats, and neutering can narrow the urethra even more, making blockages more likely. If your cat does have a medical problem, he may need antibiotics, a catheter, a change in diet or even surgery.
Your cat’s spraying may be a response to something in his environment. If you and your partner have recently started your nest together, moved to a new home or introduced another pet, these may stress your cat; spraying could be his reaction. He may also be marking his territory, especially if you have an unspayed female or another male cat that hasn’t been neutered. He may also mark if he meets other cats outside or even if he sees or smells another cat near your home.
Litter Box Problems
Your cat’s spraying could be a response to the litter box. He may dislike the litter you use or the location of the box. Even if you think you clean it regularly, he may disagree, and he may be reacting to odors you can’t even smell. Make sure you’re scooping out the box twice a day, and clean the box and replace the litter at least once a week. You should have one litter box per cat, with one extra, and put in in a quiet, out-of-the-way place.
If your vet rules out a medical cause for the spraying, ask for suggestions on how to deal with the behavior. The solution may be as simple as moving the litter box, especially if your cat sprays in the same spot over and over. You may need to try another type of litter or litter box. Never punish him, because that will stress him more and could cause additional spraying. In the most extreme cases, you may need to consult a behaviorist or put the cat on anti-anxiety medication -- but don’t take those steps without checking with your vet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Preventing Spraying by Paul D. Pion
- Denver Dumb Friends League: Housesoiling: Territorial Marking in Dogs and Cats (PDF)
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Inappropriate Elimination by Paul D. Pion and Gina Spadafori
- Denver Dumb Friends League: Housesoiling: Litterbox Problems (PDF)