What is Cat Spraying? The Ultimate Guide

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Spraying is quite a normal behavior for cats and kittens whether they are male or female and contrary to belief, neutering will not stop this natural instinct. Your cat will normally behave this way outdoors in an attempt to make his territory, but if he begins to spray inside you should take this as an indication that he doesn’t feel secure in his environment – he isn’t doing it to annoy you.

Please be aware that spraying urine is nothing to do with normal toileting. Cats are naturally very clean animals and if you provide a clean litter tray he will use it. You will find that when cats urinate normally they will squat and produce a puddle of urine. Spraying behavior is quite different. They spray to leave a ‘scent message or mark’ and when doing this, they back up towards a vertical object and squirt a short burst or spray of urine at it whilst standing up.

You may also like: Essential Guide to Cat Scratching

What makes a Cat Spray urine?

Well as we said this is a territory marking behavior. Cats use the scent of urine to mark various parts of their territory; it produces a sort of map of their surroundings as they roam around. There are two distinct areas of their territory; in the central part where they feel safe and comfortable, they mark by rubbing their cheeks against various objects. However, in areas where they feel unsure or threatened, they spray urine. Experts believe that this leaves a note or mental message to remind him that this is an area that might not be safe.

What causes my Cat to spray in the house?

There can be several reasons for this unusual behavior and if your cat does begin to spray indoor you need to look for the reason and try to resolve it. Mainly it stems from insecurity caused by one of the following reasons

  • Your cat or kitten may be ill and feel vulnerable.
  • He may be highly aroused.
  • He may perceive something in the house to be threatening and become stressed.
  • There may be some changes to his normal pattern of life which may cause some stress eg new baby; visitors; noisy building work.
  • You may have adopted a new kitten or puppy which your cat may perceive as a threat

Generally it is a combination of two or more of these factors that have caused the unusual behaviour. Please don’t punish your cat for this behaviour as it is bound to make him more nervous or anxious and subsequently increase the problem.

How can I help him to stop behaving in this way?

First call is to visit the vet. If your cat starts spraying suddenly you need to be sure it is not due to some medical condition. The vet will soon confirm whether or not your cat is healthy and once you know this you can start looking for whatever is making him feel threatened.

This may not be immediately obvious as it could be due to a combination of factors and if it is a long-standing problem, it might be a good idea to take him to a clinical behaviorist recommended by your vet.

If the problem is recent you need to look at what has changed in hid environment. Use the list above to give you some clues. Perhaps the biggest clue will lie in the location of the sprays; cats will spray specifically where the feel stressed or anxious.

Let’s imagine for instance that he has started spraying on the stairs. This may be because this is where he comes into close contact with your new cat or kitten. To help him overcome his anxiety, try to create a sense of calm and security. Provide separate places for your animals to eat, drink, toilet, scratch, sleep and play. This may even need to be in different rooms until the animals get used to each other. Remember cats are naturally loners so they may never accept the presence of another cat. The only time cats will get on naturally is if they are part of the same litter. This is worth remembering if you want your cat to have a companion.

What if he sprays on windows and doors?

If you notice that he’s spraying on windows, the cat flap or external door, it may be an indication that the source of anxiety lies outside. It could be that he sees strange cats outside when he’s looking through the window or that the neighborhood cat has attempted to come into the house through his cat flap.

Two things you can do here…

  • Fit a cat flap that is operated by a magnetic tag on his collar; this stops other cats from coming into your house;
  • Put a net curtain or a semi-transparent material over the window. This will restrict his view somewhat and make him feel less anxious about the outside and more secure inside.

Don’t be angry – but we’ve just re-decorated!

So you’ve spent time and money redecorating; bought new carpet and curtains and the first thing that happens is that you find that your darling cat has sprayed in your lovely new lounge.

Try to understand that you have just removed all the smells that were familiar and comforting to him and so he becomes anxious. So if you don’t want all your DIY efforts to be ruined on the first day, take time to introduce him to this new environment. Stay with him and comfort him until he becomes acquainted with the new smells.

Cleaning Urine Spray

There are two important reasons to do this thoroughly.

1 The smell is extremely unpleasant to humans.

  1. It you don’t clean it thoroughly, your cat’s sensitive noise will find traces of the smell and ‘top it up.’

So what is the best thing to use? Well many people use their normal household cleaner and wonder why kitty still finds the same spot. You see many of these cleaners contain ammonia and as this is one of the components of cat urine it just makes matters worse.

One of the best and easiest ways to clean is to use warm water and a biological washing liquid. Once it’s dry go over the area with surgical spirit if the surface will allow.

If your cat has sprayed on a carpet for a prolonged period, not only will you have to remove the area of carpet affected, but also treat the concrete floor or floor boards below.

Try Pheromone therapy

What’s this? Well it’s a synthetic version of the cat’s facial pheromones. We mentioned previously that a cat will rub its face against walls, chairs, even you legs – anywhere he feels safe and comfortable. A pheromone spray, which you can usually get from your vet, can encourage the feeling of well being and security in the places that were once a threat.

This will only work when the reason for his anxiety has been established and dealt with.

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