Tagging is part of the normal behavioral repertoire of cats. But what if the cat not only marks outside but also inside your own four walls with urine? Here you can read why cats mark in the apartment and what you as a cat owner can do about it.
Tagging is part of the normal behavior of cats and also helps them to communicate. Outdoors, for example, they signal other cats that this is their territory. But it often happens that cats also start marking in their own four walls. Cat urine smells pretty bad. So it’s no wonder that most cat owners don’t like it when the cat spreads urine splashes outside of their toilet in the apartment.
Why Does My Cat Mark in the Apartment?
Cats use marking to mark their territory. They want other cats to understand that this is their hunting territory, their sleeping place, or – in the apartment – their feeding place. Especially in multi-cat households, but also with single cats, territory marking can also occur in certain places such as the favorite sleeping place, the sofa, or the scratching post.
But territorial marking isn’t the only reason cats mark spots with their urine. Other options are:
- Means of communication, especially in the case of reproductive readiness
- Since unneutered cats in particular mark a lot and the marking behavior often decreases with neutering, it stands to reason that marking is also related to the reproductive readiness of cats.
It is used to attract the attention of the opposite sex and tell them “I’m ready to mate!”.
Marking around the home can also be a sign that the cat is feeling stressed. Stress can have various causes and can also lead to permanent uncleanliness. Often, tagging is a skip action that occurs when the cat is subconsciously stressed (e.g.: she wants to go outside but the door is closed/ she is stressed by noise/ a change in the cat’s life is causing her stress.). In such a case, the cat subconsciously uses marking to reduce stress.
Marking or Uncleanliness?
Marking and uncleanliness in cats are often lumped together. But there are differences! These are:
- Marking is usually a smaller amount of urine than uncleanliness.
- Tagging isn’t about urination, it’s about communication. On the other hand, if the cat is unclean, it wants to urinate, but for some reason not in the litter box. Cats that do mark usually use their toilet to urinate anyway.
- Cat Posture: Most cats crouch when urinating and stand up straight with their tail raised (which often shakes) when urinating.
- When urinating normally, the cat pees directly on the floor, when marking it sprays the urine almost horizontally against a vertical object (tree trunk, table leg, wall, door…).
- After urinating, the cat tries to bury its business, but not when tagging.
If your cat is unclean, you should definitely look for the cause and fix it! Uncleanliness in cats always has a reason!
What to Do if the Cat Marks in the Apartment
If your cat is marking around the apartment, the first things you should do are:
- Determine whether it is a mark or impurity.
- Consult a veterinarian (in both cases) to rule out physical illnesses (e.g. FLUTD) as a cause.
- Find out what is causing the cat’s marking behavior. For example, observe the situations in which your cat shows the marking behavior.
In the next step, you can then try to prevent the cat from being tagged in the apartment. This is not easy, because the causes are manifold. If the trigger for a cat’s marking is stress, it can show up in many different situations, not all of which can be avoided. In general, however, the following applies: Make your cat’s life as pleasant as possible. Here are a few tips as examples:
- If you know that the marking behavior is triggered when the cat wants to go outside but the door is closed, consider getting a cat flap.
- If the cat is easily stressed by noise, take appropriate precautions if you have visitors, for example, and give your cat a quiet retreat just for her.
- Introduce your cat to change slowly or avoid it. Why change cat litter types when the cat is fine with the old one? If you have to switch food or bedding, do it slowly by gradually increasing the amount of the new product and reducing the old one over weeks.
- When you move, you should always take your cat’s favorite items with you to the new home.
- Don’t buy everything from scratching posts to litter boxes new!
- Give your cat a lot of attention and affection and play with it extensively. Provide security for sensitive, stressed cats.
- Especially if you suspect a newborn baby or the new partner as the trigger, you should pay a lot of attention to the cat.
- Ensure a harmonious multi-cat household.
- Check to see if anything about your toilet could disturb the cat.
Also important: remove the cat urine thoroughly! Be careful when using vinegar: if you use it first, it fixes the smell and can encourage the cat to mark the same spot again later.
Fragrance Sprays Against Marking in the Apartment
There are also fragrance sprays or fragrance atomizers for the socket especially for cats, for example from Feliway, which secrete pheromones. These pheromones can calm cats and, among other things, ensure that the marking behavior decreases.
Castration as a Solution for Marking in the Apartment?
If your cat’s marking behavior is related to your reproductive readiness, you may also consider having your cat neutered. Tomcats that are ready to mate often undertake long forays in search of a female and often become victims of road traffic. Neutering, therefore, has many positive aspects and also contributes to cat protection. In most cases, the marking behavior decreases after castration (after a few weeks). However, there is no guarantee of this. Even neutered cats and tomcats can show marking behavior.