Does your cat ever relieve themselves outside of the litter box? This behavior doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat is dirty—far from it. Instead, urine marking is a way for cats to communicate. Understanding the reasons behind urine marking will help you better understand how to manage this behavior.
This is my territory!
Oftentimes, when a cat urinates in the garden, on the balcony, or even in the house, they are letting others know that it is their territory. Urine marking is a behavior that cats have inherited from their ancestors and is completely instinctive. This behavior can be observed in male cats who have not been neutered, but also in some female cats.
Are they marking their territory or peeing out of necessity?
Are you trying to determine if you cat was trying to mark their territory or simply trying to relieve themselves from a pressing need? Luckily, it’s not that complicated to decipher. Start by observing your cat. If you notice that they are urinating while standing, with their tail up, it is highly likely that they are marking their territory. When marking their territory, cats stand up straight and “aim” at the surface that they want to mark. If you notice instead that your cat is squatting like they would in a littler box, it is likely that they are just relieving themselves.
Leaving a clear message to other cats
They way in which cats communicate is complex and can be expressed in many different ways. Urinating is one way in which cats communicate. For example, they might urinate to indicate to other cats that they do not want their territory to be trespassed. When they do this, their urine is always at the height of the nose of other cats. When smelling another cat’s urine, they can decipher the gender, age, and health of the cat.
If you observed your cat the moment that they stepped out into the garden for the first time, you will have probably noticed that they left their mark in different areas. Cats do this to mark the areas that limit their territory.
An announcement to other cats
A cat that has not been neutered might also urinate to let other cats know that they are available to mate. They wish to pass down the message to female cats who are around them. They will also take the opportunity to let other male cats know that they should go elsewhere.
What about cats who urinate indoors?
Generally, a cat urinates to indicate their presence to others. But why would they need relieve themselves inside? There is usually no risk for another unknown cat to walk inside, and thus no reason to mark their territory. Instead, when a cat urinates inside, it could mean that they feel threatened. Did you recently adopt a new pet? Has a friend been visiting your place more often? Your cat might be urinating to show you that they are anxious.
Depending on the area where they leave their urine marking, you can decipher the message more or less easily. If your cat urinates on the door, on the curtains, or around the edges of the windows, your cat could be letting you know that they saw something strange outside. This could be a cat trespassing their territory, for example.
Does your cat urinate on your table or chairs? This could be showing that your cat feels unsafe. They no longer feel at peace in their home and want to mark their territory more precisely. When cats add their personal odor to furniture when they rub themselves on them, it reassures them. They might be urinating on the furniture because the strong smell of their urine reassures them. If your cat starts to urinate inside when they did not do so in the past, this could mean that they feel in danger. To better understand what might be causing this, you can talk about it with your vet.
Medical reasons for urine marking
It’s also possible that your cat is relieving themselves for reasons that are not behavioral. It can notably be linked to kidney issues.
It can also be a sign of feline lower urinary tract disease, which is a disorder of the kidneys, urethra, ureters and bladder. This disease primarily happens to cats who spend all of their time indoors, fed with kibble, without exercising, presenting a lots of stress, and are overweight. Their lifestyle should be changed to help them overcome this disease.
Other reasons for urine marking
A cat might also urinate everywhere but the litter box because they find it to be too dirty. In addition, if the litter is not in a good area, your cat might not want to go inside. Cats, like us, do not like to be watched when they do relieve themselves.
Moreover, studies have shown that cats who are weaned too early have a tendency to urinate inside. Their mother did not have the time to teach them good practices. Normally, mothers show that the litter box is the perfect place for them to relieve themselves. If your cat has not spent a minimum of 2 months with their mother, they will not know what to do and you will have to teach them. You will need to be very patient.
What should I do if my cat leaves a urine marking?
Cat urine has a strong smell. Therefore, it is necessary to keep this behavior under control.
Be kind about urine marking
If your cat pees inside, there is a high chance that your cat is frightened for some reason. It is useless to reinforce these fears by punishing them. This will simply make them more stressed and they might even leave urine marking more often.
Try to understand your cat
Your cat peed. It’s a fact. But why did they? Are there new things that have happened in their life? Are there any reasons for your cat to feel bad? Have you repainted your house or rearranged the furniture? Cats like keeping their habits and need to take time to get used to changes. You need to ask yourself questions about how your cat could be feeling in order to find the problem that is causes stress. By fixing this, you will alleviate your cat’s stress and they should stop urinating inside. If this is not obvious for you, talk to a vet or cat behaviorist.
Reassure your cat with pheromones
Your cat needs to be able to smell their odor around the house to feel better. For this, you can gently wipe a fabric on your cat’s face and rub this fabric on the feet of the furniture, around where your cat’s nose is. They will be able to smell their odor around the house and feel more safe.
Is cleaning the urine marking a good idea?
If you wash away the urine, there is a high chance that they will urinate again. Instead, you can use a specific cleaner to reduce the odor. This can be an enzyme-based cleaning product or a mixture of water and detergent (10%). Remember to rinse well and leave the area to dry.