Our last blog in January highlighted the importance of knowing how to identify whether the cat is marking or just peeing where it should not. We described ‘associative’ marking as a form of cat communication and why such marking may occur. This blog continues with helpful tips on overcoming and even preventing ‘associative’ marking.
Please note that you should always consult with your vet to determine if there is any medical urination or physical problems. Such problems increase stress which would contribute to markings. That being said, listed below are action steps that you can take to either prevent or overcome ‘associative’ marking.
Here are a few things to avoid when treating urine marking:
- Do not rub your cat’s nose in his urine.
- Do not throw things at your cat.
- Do not clean up accidents with an ammonia-based cleanser. Urine contains ammonia, so cleaning with ammonia can attract your cat that same spot to urinate again. Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors.
Some tips for overcoming / preventing associative makings:
- Neuter or spay your cat. – This is a proven treatment to eliminate markings that are used to send a message to other cats that he/she is available to mate. It is also a treatment that can reduce and with many cats even prevent marking associated with territory conflict.
- Reduce stress by trying to determine whether any change in the house or routine has taken place.
- Remove sources of stress from any loud noise from the cat’s environment.
- Use plug in synthetic cat pheromone (spray or diffuser) to create a calmer environment. Place where the cat has marked.
- Increase play, training and quality time between the cat and those that live in the household and with the pet sitter. Provide cat trees and scratch pads to increase exercise and reduce stress.
For multiple cat households:
- Determine which cat is marking. Note sure which one… speak with your veterinarian about giving fluorescein to one of your cats. Fluorescein is a harmless dye that causes urine to glow blue under ultraviolet light for about 24 hours. Similar to number five above, to reduce conflict among multiple cats in the home, increase play with individual cats in different areas of the home to prevent confrontation, provide multiple scratching posts, toys, and perch areas (cat trees/shelves) to rest without confrontation. Also, provide multiple water and food bowls.
- Whether there is an issue with marking or not, households with multiple cats must have multiple litter boxes. This is especially true if there is a cat mate are preventing another one from using the litter box, then conflict and stress increases and cats will send a strong message through markings and other forms of communication.
- Ensure that there is one litter-box per cat plus one extra litter box. Example, if you have two cats, there should be three litter boxes in the house. Additional boxes may need to be placed where frequent markings have occurred. Scoop at least once a day.
- Cats can mark in response to dogs as well as other animals. If you have a dog, keep the litter boxes away from your dog’s food and water bowls.
*Content adapted from Animal Behavior Institute (ABI).