Marking is a Different Story

Some cats mark vertical objects with a small spray of urine, often standing with their tail upright and twitching at the same time. Its estimated that nearly a third of them have no litter box problems. Theyre simply using communication skills that nature gave them, the ASPCA says.

They mark their territory to indicate stressful changes in the environment, the presence of cats outdoors, conflict with another cat in the home or, if theyre intact, their availability for mating. Spaying and neutering significantly reduce marking. Whatever its basis, marking can help keep unwanted individuals away, the ASPCA says, adding, It creates an atmosphere of familiarity that makes them feel more secure.

To reduce marking, the feline practitioners guidelines recommend eliminating triggers, such as installing motion-activated sprinklers on the lawn to shoo away roaming cats; cleaning soiled areas with an enzymatic cleanser and, in chronic cases, obtaining veterinarian-prescribed medications.

Cornells Feline Health Center suggests using the synthetic pheromone Feliway, available as a spray or diffuser, to discourage marking. It mimics cats cheek gland secretions and is intended to have a calming effect.