Is Your Cat Spraying or Peeing?

Cat Spraying No More

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Is your cat spraying or peeing and how to tell the difference
Is Your Cat Spraying…or Peeing?

For those of us who have been confronted with their beloved cat spraying or peeing outside of the litterbox, it’s an issue that can quickly cause humans great anguish. We rush to find a solution rather than take the time to diagnose the root cause of the issue, and that’s natural. However, determining and then executing the correct solution depends on why your cat isn’t using the litterbox in the first place.

Some cats that engage in improper elimination are spraying, while others are simply peeing outside the box (for any number of reasons), and that’s a big difference, one that will require different treatments. A cat spraying is a form of communication that posts essential information for other cats, while a cat peeing is simply an attempt to empty his bladder.

One of our favorite books on the topic of cats and litterbox issues,

Cat Scene Investigator

by Dusty Rainbolt, outlines a number of highly specific situations that will help you to determine which type of improper eliminator your cat is, and ways you can work to solve the problem.

Cat Scene Investigator

offers the following guidelines to determine whether the issue is spraying (marking) or peeing:

Your cat is spraying/marking

if he’s doing any or all of the following


  • He backs up to a vertical object, such as a wall, wiggles his tail and sprays urine
  • He pees inside the box several times a day


    sprays other places such as near doors and windows

  • He sprays small quantities of urine
  • He doesn’t attempt to cover after he goes
  • He sniffs area


    going but not after
  • He dances side to side on back feet
  • He goes on vertical surfaces such as walls, doors, and furniture
  • He stands in the middle of a room and eliminates small quantities

If you recognize these activities then your cat is likely spraying and he might be motivated by anxiety, stress, or the need to claim territory. Start with your vet to make sure there are no underlying medical issues. Then, check out some of our articles on how to help stop or reduce spraying




Your cat is peeing

if he’s doing any or all of the following


  • He never pees inside the litterbox, but usually goes near the litterbox
  • He produces large volumes of pee
  • He sniffs the area after going
  • He squats and pees near the litter box
  • He makes a round urine pattern
  • He pees on flat surfaces
  • He pees in a discreet place
  • He squats in the middle of a room and eliminates large quantities

If any of these sound familiar, then your cat is most likely peeing. He’s doing this for any number of reasons so first have him checked out by your vet in case he has a medical issue. There are other reasons he may be peeing outside the box, which we cover in other articles like this one or this one or this one.

Readers, have you experienced this problem? Did you find a good solution or resource? Tell us in the comments!

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