There are many things that cause cats to feel anxious. New housemates, new babies, new homes and new routines can all upset a cat’s constitution. One of the most common ways cats exhibit anxiety is by urine marking around their territory. When this territory includes the house, owners are faced with a smelly, antisocial problem.

It is important to differentiate between cats passing urine in the house because they have a urinary problem and cats scent marking. Your vet will be able to check your cat over and treat any urinary problems that exist. If your cat has a clean bill of health, it could be your cat is urine marking because of anxiety.

Cats urinate to leave a strong scent marker which communicates their presence to others in the neighbourhood. Often, in highly populated areas, competition for outside territory is fierce and cats will urinate in the house when they are being bullied outside. When cats return to an area they have urine marked it signals a strong, reassuring sense of familiarity.

Urine marking can occur on many vertical and horizontal household surfaces. Often once a favourite spot is found, cats will return and keep ‘reoffending’. Removing the smell of urine from the house is difficult. There are some products available which can be used to break down the urine molecules and destroy the smell. A biological washing detergent can also be used. Restricting access to rooms in which a cat has urine marked helps to re-establish good habits. Providing enough litter trays is also important for cats needing a reminder of more appropriate places to pass urine.

Pheromone diffusers and sprays, that mimic a cat’s natural scent markers, are available from your vets. These help to create a sense of familiarity and therefore reduce the need for urine marking. Unfortunately there are no miracle cures for urine marking. Each case differs greatly and identifying the root of the problem is important so lifestyle changes can be best suited to the individual cat.

 -Penny Clarke MRCVS

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