Imagine you come back from work looking forward to meeting your furball friend. A strong smell strikes you as soon as you enter your home, and it puts you off. Are you one of these people who is unable to handle your dear pet cat habit of spraying inside the house? Then read on to find the reason and tips to stop this behavior.
What is spraying
For cats spraying is like urine marking but for a specific reason- to mark the territory. The urine has a distinctive pungent odor. This becomes the mark of the presence of a cat. It is a kind of communication between cats. But this ends up leaving stains and odor for you to deal with. The urine emitted through spraying is stronger and foul-smelling so that the other cats recognize the area marked by a cat.
Understand if it is urinating or spraying
Try to understand if it is urinating incorrectly or actual spraying. Inappropriate urinating may also cause staining and marks at different places when the cat does not squat properly. This could be due to medical issues and can be rectified easily with medication. Spraying is distinctly marked by a different position while leaving small puddles of urine in many places.
It is different from urinating, which is natural and essential for living. Sometimes due to behavioral and physical sickness, a cat may urinate more frequently inside the house. It is still distinct from spraying and can be treated with medicines.
Why do cats spray?
Spray marks are vertical marks as cats back up into an object to mark the territory. Small stains in many places with a strong smell are proof of spraying. The cats are naturally inclined to be territorial animals. Their system adds strong chemicals to the urine to ensure that the other cats recognize a marked area. The message to the cats and possibly other animals is always conveyed through pheromones produced by them.
It is a common behavior found in many situations.
- Cats that are not neutered (Males),
- Cats in new houses- after relocation or if many new changes are made to the house.
- A house where many cats are living together. One or more cats may try to ascertain dominance/territory in the house, in some areas and things.
- Spraying is also a mating ritual. During mating season, the pheromones in the urine communicate to other cats that they are available for mating. This is commonly seen in unneutered male cats.
- Cats that feel threatened due to the arrival of a new member in the family, kid, or a new pet.
- New neighborhood cats coming into your house or your cat threatening the outside cats.
- A new change in the routine that has upset your pet cat.
- Cat’s litter box has been changed or disturbed or not cleaned for a long time.
Medical reasons for spraying
A cat may be spraying if it is suffering from any of the following diseases.
- Urinary tract infection or inflammation of the bladder
- Liver disease
- Excessive glucose in the urine (diabetes)
- kidney or bladder stones
- Old age (neurological issues)
- Feline leukemia
- Medical treatment
The simple steps to change this behavior in cats
The behavior of spraying needs to be tackled according to the reason.
- Neuter/ spay the cat
If it is a male cat, the most helpful method would be to get your cat neutered. The male cats should ideally be neutered when they are around six months old. The behavior can be curbed before it even starts. If the cat is very old by the time you get it neutered, then the behavior may be too ingrained in the cat to get rid of.
Un-spayed female cats also spray to attract the attention of male cats for mating. They should be spayed when as young as six months to avoid the development of this behavior.
- Stress-induced spraying can be tackled differently.
- Do not change the routine of the cat or people at home suddenly. Any change can cause cat insecurity and stress. Try to maintain the same schedule every day. Feed your cat simultaneously every day, keep the toys, litter box, and bed in the same place.
- If you have visitors, then try to keep your cat in a different room. This is more important if they have cats at their home and may smell along on the clothes.
- Buy some specific sprays available at the pet stores. These are effective in calming and comforting the cat at home. You can use it when there is a major change at home.
- Multiple cats may be struggling to mark their territory. If you have more cats, then try to give each one a distinct space to feel secure.
- You can have more than one perch for these cats. Similarly, provide more scratching posts, toys, and even litter boxes to avoid conflict between the cats.
- Clean the litter box whenever you can. More cats mean – more litter boxes too.
- Clean up the urine immediately and thoroughly. If the urine scent lingers, then the cat will be encouraged to urinate or spray there again.
- You can use a solution of vinegar and water to spray on the surfaces where you want to remove the smell and discourage spraying. You can also use a store-bought solution for the same purpose.
- If a new cat in the neighborhood is the cause of the stress, then do not allow her to go out for some time. Allow her to relax and calm down and slowly restart the activity. Don’t let her see the other cats even from the window.
- Introduce new family members, including a new baby, gradually, without making it stressful for the cat. The cats should still feel loved and confident about their position in the family.
- Do spend more time with the cat so that it feels loved and content. Provide adequate physical activity and toys that help her spend time at home. Provide adequate perching place and scratching posts. Play with them using toys available at the pet stores.
- Do not scold your cat. That may lead to more stress and increased behavioral problems.
Seek Medical Intervention if it is not stress-induced
If even after trying all the behavioral methods, the cat continues to spray, it is advisable to seek medical intervention.
- If it is an older cat, then it could be bladder control issues.
- The vet may also advise neutering the cat if not done previously.
- A vet can prescribe calming medications for the cat that will work. These may include anti-depressants that are designed to be given to cats and not human medicines. The medicines can help to reduce the anxiety in cats and reduce spraying too.
- Some people believe in homeopathic medicines. Some remedies can be used to calm the cats effectively.
- If all else fails, the vet will check for physiological reasons and any sickness in the cat. It is essential to keep medical records for correct diagnosis. The cat may have to go through some medical tests to find the real reason. This may include blood tests, urine tests, X-Rays, and ultrasound, etc.
A cat is your companion for good times and bad. You need to be patient and figure out a way to solve the problem of spraying. If it is behavioral, you can treat her with love and patience, and the unwanted behavior can be stopped. But if you feel that it is due to an underlying medical condition, then meet a vet without delay. Treatment and love will make the bond grow stronger.