Pet Tips

Tip 47 – Cat marking by spraying and urination

The phenomenon of cats marking their territory, especially indoors, produces anxiety for many cat owners. The very first thing to know is that cats are not malicious or sneaky; They don’t go around marking objects by spraying to irritate you. Long before we took cats into our homes, they developed behaviour patterns that helped them survive and reproduce in the wild. These behaviour patterns which include marking or spraying through urination are 100% natural and are in the genes of every domestic/wild cat. Cats spray and mark territory as a way of communication and declaring ownership. Unfortunately for the cat, these types of problems are disliked by many cat owners, and all too often they lead to their abandonment. Usually adjustments in the home can solve the problem.

Is the cat spraying or urinating – What’s going on

When cats urinate as a means of elimination, they normally do it on a horizontal or flat surface like the ground or in a litterbox. When cats spray in order to mark their territory, they turn their backsides to the object, twitch their tails and spray urine on the vertical surface, usually at another cat’s nose level. They are telling other cats that this territory belongs to them. They might also be telling other cats that they are ready to mate.

Non spayed/neutered cats, especially males are the heaviest sprayers which is in itself a great reason to have kittens spayed/neutered at 6 months. Spraying behaviour rarely occurs if the kitten was neutered/spayed before sexual maturity. However there is no absolute guarantee, marking behaviours can appear in any cat regardless of whether or not it was spayed or neutered. This often occurs when potential stresses i.e. (new cat, new house, new house member etc.) present themselves.

Dealing with the behavioral reasons for territorial spraying require the examination of the individual cat’s pattern. Is the cat spraying near the drapes or around a window area? This could indicate that it sees another cat through the window or even that another cat has come onto the porch and given a spray of its own.Your cat may retaliate naturally by spraying near the door or window to tell foreign cats who’s turf this really is. In this case, maybe temporarily blocking access to the offending window is the way to go.

Urinating on the rug, floor, in a tub etc. are not usually territory markers, they are signs of inappropriate elimination, that is urinating where the cat is not supposed to. The first thing to rule out is any type of urinary or bladder infection which may have formed due to crystals in the cat’s urine. This is a very common reason cats urinate in strange places. Straining and making strange/painful sounds while urinating is common to this problem and a good indicator that it is time to see a veterinarian today.

Once you have ruled out medical problems, urinating in strange places is also often due to litterbox problems. Cats like a really clean box with litter scooped daily and changed completely once a week. They like private quiet areas for their litter boxes. They also like an extra litterbox in a different area. (if 2 cats, 3 or more litter boxes) Some cats have certain preferences when it comes to the type of litter. Have you changed the brand of litter lately, have you moved the location of the litterbox, has another pet recently been introduced?

Once you figure out WHY the cat is spraying or urinating in a strange place only then can you deal with the problem. It should be noted that there are commercial sprays that can help some cats stop from spraying. Before using the spray, you should have figured out why the cat sprayed where it did.

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