Cats are one of the country’s most popular pets. Lovable, independent and full of character; it is easy to see why they are so well loved. Yet occasionally our pets can become problematic if they start showing behavioral problems. One such problem is spraying, which can occur inside the home and cause quite a mess.
But what is spraying? What is the cause and how can it be stopped?
What is cat spraying?
Cat spraying is where they raise their tails and quite literally, spray urine out behind them. It is entirely different from when your cat urinates normally; they squat and then cover it up after them.
When a cat sprays for behavioral reasons, they are wanting it to be found by other cats. In the wild cats spray to mark their territory, and it is a behavior most commonly seen in males. Domestic cats can be seen spraying either outside or sometimes in the house too.
What causes spraying?
The most common reason domestic cats spray is to mark their territories and as such unneutered male cats are the worst offenders. As their hormones kick in, they are telling the world that their home and garden is their spot!
Female cats can also spray, although it is less common. One reason that a female, or an already neutered male cat, may start expressing this behavior is due to stress; for instance from a house move or from another new cat in the neighborhood that is upsetting them.
Behavior or illness?
A consideration to bear in mind is that spraying may be caused by an illness instead. If your cats appear to start spraying for no reason the best thing to do is to get them checked out by your vet. If your cat is finding it painful to urinate, they may start spraying instead. Rule out physical causes before tackling it as a behavioral issue.
How can you stop it?
The first thing to do is to try and identify the cause. If you have young male cats, get them neutered. Not only should this help reduce the spraying, but it will also stop the hormones that cause them to wander far from home looking for a mate and will prevent them from producing potentially unwanted kittens too. It is best to get your male kitten neutered as soon as they are old enough as if spraying becomes a habit it can be hard for them to break when neutered as an adult.
If you believe your cat is spraying due to stress look at ways of minimizing the stress for them. Is a new cat in the area bullying your cat? Think about making your cat garden escape (and enter) proof so that it is for your pet only.
Moving home, a new puppy or new baby can all stress out your cat causing them to spray. While many of these causes are unavoidable, there are a few things you can do to help stop the spraying. One method is by using a product called Feliway or Comfort Zone products. This is a diffuser that you plug into a normal electrical socket, and it releases odorless pheromones that help keep your cat calm. Many vets recommend this product, and it is definitely worth trying if your cat is prone to spraying.
To further combat the spraying, start feeding near to where they are going to help discourage the behavior. Cats are very clean animals and will not want to urinate where they eat. Although this does not tackle the cause of the behavior, it can help discourage them if it has become a habit. When you have to clean up any spray that is in the house, do make sure you clean it up really well as any lingering smell can again encourage them to spray again.
For multi-cat households provide enough litter trays and feeding bowls to go around; having spares if necessary. A cat being bullied or stressed due to a new addition may also start to spray.
Spraying can be an offensive, smelly, horrible habit that your cat has gotten into. However, look into the reasons behind it, be they behavioral or medical. By taking a few simple steps, you can vastly reduce the chances of it happening and hopefully get them out of the habit.