Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
I've been going through similar things with one of my four cats for a while. I've found a few unconventional things that help the interim step. So, you know he's using the box appropriately in the small room, he needs slightly more freedom but not too much.
Our solution is that when we are home Doran was harnessed and tethered to a cat post. Within he reach he had a litter box, toys, and attention. (no water or he'd make a lake...but I would offer it to him periodically) We started him with a range of about 4 feet, he had about 2 perches and the floor to lay on, and was always fairly close to the litter box. When I brought him out of his room I'd put him in the litterbox and say "Box." Then I'd block the door and wait, usually he'd pee right away, problem solved. if he didn't I'd let him out of the box, but watch him very closely until he did pee in the box. When he did pee he'd get either a small treat or a big fuss of attention.
Once he'd gone 1 month with no mistakes we lengthened the tether to 8 feet.
After a month of no accidents with the longer tether I allowed him off the tether but VERY closely supervised and he HAD to pee in the box first. I'd watch him really closely, like follow him around the whole time he was off the tether, and if I thought he was too interested in smelling something I'd distract him with a toy and say "Leave it".
I know that 'my way' isn't the way people usually work with cats, but I've found it really effective. Doran has mostly stopped spraying and any time he has sprayed it's been on a day where I've been more slack about the litter boxes and supervision than I should.
The catch to 'my way' is that you have to start with getting the cat used to a harness, and be willing to spend some serious time changing the behavior. It's more work, but IMO it has a better likelyhood of working than going from a confining room to freedom! with no in between.