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Stressed orange tabby cat on floor

Minimize stress urination in cats

Q: Our son and his family are moving across the country and can’t take their 10-year-old cat, Macey. We have one cat, Mellie, and we’re thinking of adopting Macey.

We’re worried, though, because whenever there has been a major change in Macey’s life, she’s urinated on the floor. What are the chances her inappropriate urination will start again when she moves in with us?

A: Stress is a factor in many cases of inappropriate urination. Moving to another home and acquiring a new human and feline family will be stressful for Macey, so it’s possible she may start urinating on the floor again. Fortunately, you can do several things to minimize her stress and decrease the risk of inappropriate urination.

First, she should see her regular veterinarian for vaccinations, blood work and a urinalysis. Any unaddressed medical problems will add to her stress. Ask her veterinarian about medication to decrease her anxiety. Your son can start the medication before the move, and you can continue it until she seems relaxed in her new home. Your son should spray Feliway, the feline facial pheromone that calms cats, on the towel in her carrier before he drives her to your home.

Once she moves in, confine her to one room, such as a large bathroom, and plug in a Feliway diffuser. She’ll become accustomed to the sounds of your home, and she’ll meet Mellie under the door. When she wants to explore beyond her room, open the door and let her find her own way. If your home’s layout permits you to limit her to a few rooms initially, her transition will be more gradual and less stressful. Equip those rooms with Feliway diffusers, too.

Provide hiding places, such as a cubby-hole box introduced while she still lives with your son. Maintain Macey’s standard daily routine, and use her regular bed, food, dishes, litter and litter boxes.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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