Why neutered cats spray urine and how to make them stop

Did you neuter your male cat but he is still spraying urine around the house? Unfortunately, it happens from time to time: An owner neuters his cat with big expectations of him to stop urine marking, but even some time after the surgery, spraying is still there. Familiar?

neutered cat spraying urine
Photo by 1SarahSmith, cc

In this article, you will learn why your neutered cat is still spraying urine and is there something more you can do about it.

So, here is the short answer to why your neutered cat may still be spraying:

  • it may take time for hormonal activity to calm down;
  • spraying is not always sexually related action;
  • urine spraying may have developed as a habit of your cat;
  • the scent from spots already marked before may be triggering the spraying;
  • your cat is stressed out.

About the first one, there’s not much to do but wait. Usually, no longer than a few weeks, however, may be longer in some cases. Others require your actions, as described below.
Remember, the cause for your neutered cat still spraying urine may be any of the above, and, very likely, a combination of several of those.

What to do if your neutered cat keeps spraying urine?

So, you know why your cat might be spraying urine, despite the fact he has been neutered. Now what?

  1. Do not regret neutering. It’s not like it was in vain if it did not have the result expected. It had the effect, just that it was not enough to stop the spraying, and even if you implement everything described below, you would not be able to achieve anything without neutering your cat. So, neutering is a must if you want to stop your cat from spraying urine.
  2. Clean the environment. As we said above, if your cat marked before, it’s highly likely that scents are triggering re-marking of those corners again and again. To avoid it, you have to wash the smell away. To do so, use a detergent that states “pet urine removal” or similar on the label. Ordinary household soap will not be enough. Most likely, you will find them at pet supply stores. Next, treat every spot your cat sprays urine with the detergent, according to instructions on the label. If your cat seems to spray everywhere, then apply it everywhere. Also, in case it’s hard to find where it smells urine, you can use a black light as it will cause the urine to fluorescence; thus, the places where to clean will be visible. Find tips to clean a cat’s urine here.
  3. Limit the stress your cat experiences. It’s no easy solution and is hard to explain in general terms, as there may be many separate sources of stress in cats. Besides, your cat may be affected by more than one of those. To limit it, start by reading our article about the possible causes of stress in cats. It will be a good starting point in what your cat is stressed about, and will help you to figure out how to limit the stress. IMPORTANT: if your cat is under a severe amount of stress, veterinary assistance might be necessary to help relieve it. You can also read about environmental enrichment for indoor cats, as it will undoubtedly help to reduce the stress of any cat.

    Increasing playing time will dramatically reduce spraying by neutered cat.
    Increasing playing time will dramatically reduce spraying by a neutered cat.
    Photo by Jennifer C., cc
  4. Identify the moment when your cat is about to spray. If you are a good observer, you might notice your cat’s actions right before spraying urine. He is approaching the spot, turning his back towards it, rising his tail, and then it happens. In some cases, spraying may also occur after some specific events, like right after cat coming indoors, when your dog passes by, or when he sees a rival cat or postman through the window. Wink, wink, it’s a hint of a possible source of stress, that may be needed to limit.
  5. Redirect your cat right before he’s about to spray. Best targets would be a toy or a treat. However, to avoid feeding your cat too much, a toy would be a better choice. So, right before the cat is about to spray, grab a toy (best if it’s a toy on a string, so you can easily manipulate it) and hopefully your cat will go after it, BEFORE he sprays. If it is so, reward by playing or petting. Keep the toy (or treats) at a point you can quickly grab, which means you might want to keep several toys in different locations and use a clicker for better timing. Read here what is clicker and how to use it in cat training.
  6. If you failed to redirect, ignore your cat. That is, if you reached out for the toy but the cat squirted on the wall anyway, put the toy away and do not pay any attention to your cat for a while. Playing works as a reward, preferably, for not spraying. If your cat did spray, you do not want to reward him for doing so. Also, do not scold, push your cat away, or reproach him. It is attention as well, and attention is a reward. Of course, if your cat did spray, make sure you clean the spot as described above.

But the most valuable advice is, be patient. Correcting urine marking is a long term goal. Instantaneously you could increase your cat’s playing time, reduce, limit or block sources of stress, or enrich his environment. However, be patient, and consistent work, as described above, may be necessary for several months, or even more.

If you think it’s taking too much time and effort, and your neutered cat is still spraying urine, you can seek for professional help, as the problem described here, may be exceedingly complex and specific in your case.