If you came across this article while researching on the internet, you are probably one of many cat owners facing this problem. The good news is that you are not alone in this unpleasant situation. Why does a cat mark? Why is your cat marking inside the house? Another piece of good news is that there is a remedy. You can read about what you can do about it in the following lines.
Why does my cat (suddenly) mark in the flat?
In nature it is normal for cats to mark, for example to mark out their territory or to show other cats that they are ready to reproduce or just to communicate. There are hardly any differences between the sexes. However, statistically speaking, unneutered males mark most often, followed by unneutered females.
But one thing is certain, if your darling urinates in places in the flat away from her litter tray, this is very unpleasant for us humans and can even lead to health problems.
Once this behaviour has crept in, you can’t get out of washing, wiping and scrubbing. You have probably also had to throw away or renovate one thing or another.
But why cats mark, and sometimes from one day to the next, can have different causes:
- Male cats in particular mark their territory in this way. The scent marks indicate that it is their territory.
- For health reasons: Your pet may be suffering from a urinary tract infection. If you find urine traces in the flat, the first step should be to go to a veterinary clinic or similar to rule out physical causes.
- Bad litter box management: Keyword uncleanliness! If the problem is uncleanliness, your pet may be unhappy with the conditions of her toilet.
- Marking due to negative feelings and stress: Here, urine marking serves as an outlet for “unpleasant feelings”. Cats usually relieve stress unconsciously by marking, in a sense as an act of escape. Feelings such as fear, excitement, dissatisfaction, insecurity, hunger, pain – to name but a few – can trigger such behaviour. A change of familiar surroundings, such as moving, can also trigger enormous stress in cats. There are also very sensitive conspecifics who feel stressed by the slightest change, such as a new unfamiliar perfume from their cat parents.
- Keep intruders away: Sometimes the reason is also obvious. Your darling makes it clear to the unwelcome visitor that he has invaded someone else’s territory.
- Marking due to readiness to mate: By marking, your pet gives information about her/his sexual status.
Difference between marking behaviour and uncleanliness
There is an important difference between marking and uncleanliness. For example, if you find large puddles of urine, this may be an indication of uncleanliness. Smaller amounts of urine are more likely to indicate marking behaviour.
The posture when urinating can also be an indicator. If your cat squats down and then tries to scrape her business away, this is a sign of uncleanliness. If she stands with her rear end facing the “object of desire” and raises her tail straight up, this is more likely to be marking behaviour. Often her tail shakes and urine sprays out of her.
Last but not least, the “scene of the crime” can tell you whether your pet tends to be unclean or whether she tends to mark. Especially surfaces such as floors, carpets, blankets, beds, sideboards, etc. are more likely to be soiled when they are unclean. Marking, on the other hand, tends to involve peeing on vertical things such as table legs, curtains, walls, door frames and much more.
In principle, marking is a natural and normal behaviour, whereas uncleanliness can indicate an illness or psychological stress.
How can I stop my cat from marking?
Whether this behaviour is recent or your pet has been bothering you with this smelly fact for a while, there are fortunately things you can do about it. First and foremost, however, it depends on the reason why your darling has started to show this behaviour.
- One important thing to remember: Punishment is NEVER the answer! Your pet is not showing this behaviour out of spite or anything like that, as some people unfortunately still assume. The fact is, your cat is dissatisfied with certain conditions, circumstances or is sickly and in no way wants to do you any harm.
- As mentioned above, the first step is to take a close look at your pet’s health. Anyone who has ever suffered from a bladder infection knows how unpleasant and painful this can be.
- If the problem is uncleanliness, try to change or improve the current condition of the litter box. You can find information and many tips in the following article: Uncleanliness in Cats.
- Explore your surroundings, you may get regular visits from other cats or animals that you don’t notice. It’s obvious that your darling wants to stake out her territory.
- It could also be that your furry friend is becoming sexually mature or is ready to mate. Neutering can be a remedy.
- Be aware of your cat’s different needs. An unhappy cat may express its dissatisfaction in its (marking) behaviour.
- Avoid stress factors! Too loud music, no place to retreat to, intense smells, intrusive housemates with or without fur, renovations, rearrangements in the living area – the list is incredibly long – are all conditions that can destabilise your darling. So it is not so easy for you as the owner to find the stressor. Ask yourself when the marking behaviour first occurred. Were there any changes in your lifestyle at that time? Any possible source of disturbance? Did you perhaps change her food or move her favourite spot? Do you have new working hours or is being alone for long periods getting to her? Observe and try to change the disturbing condition, to improve it. Most of the time, the behaviour will improve on its own.
- Clean the places where your cat has marked thoroughly. Otherwise, it is possible that your cat will always see this place as her special “marking place”. The best thing to do is to use enzyme cleaner.
- Seek professional help from animal trainers if you are overwhelmed with the situation or can’t figure out the problem on your own.
Urine marking of cats can be very stressful for cat parents. But it can also be a strain on our beloved pets, as it can be a sign of possible unhappiness or upset. However, it is sometimes not so easy to find the source of the problem. However, with empathy, patience and the will to change things, you will surely get the unpleasant problem under control soon.