Cat Spraying in the House

Jane from Estepona writes:
“My 8-year-old cat has started spraying in the house. He was neutered
at the proper age, and is an indoor cat. He started spraying about
two years ago, at first infrequently, but now it’s pretty bad. He is
also in good health.”

Answer
Inappropriate elimination is the number one behaviour problem
reported to vets by cat owners, with both males and females found to
be equally at fault. While it can be caused by a urinary tract
infection or illnesses such as colitis, often there’s no medical
cause, which seems to be the case with your cat.

Often you’ll blame yourself or something you must have done for
putting kitty off-track.Of course, nothing could be further from the
truth. Urine marking, or what’s typically called “spraying,” is an
expression of territorial dominance found in both cats and dogs. It’s
associated with the rubbing of body oils from the chin and tail on
favourite objects (and favourite people).

Spraying, however, typically occurs when a cat feels like placing an
advertisement that sex is available. It increases during mating
season and particularly during “courtship.” It’s the feline way to
send the message “Hey, this is my boudoir – keep out!” Of course,
getting your cat neutered will almost always solve this cause of
spraying. But it can also happen when a cat feels threatened by an
intruder. An indoor cat may see a new neighbourhood cat spraying on
or near the house. Indoor kitty will initiate defensive activity
involving spraying and possibly other behaviour such as running to
the door, hissing or growling at the window, and obsessively watching
the rival. It can also occur when a new cat is introduced into the
house. Basically, anything that disturbs the cat’s routine and
arouses the cat or is perceived as a threat can elicit spraying.

It’s important to evaluate what could possibly be causing your cat’s
stress which is, in turn, causing the spraying. Attempt to determine
if any outdoor cats are tormenting your cat. If so, either try and
drive the outdoor cat away or block the view of your indoor cat (both
of which can be, admittedly, difficult). Think back – is there any
household behaviour which may have changed in the past year or two,
since the spraying activity began? Any new addition ( even a human)
to the house hold can cause stress to your cat.

Finally, if spraying seems to be occurring in the same locations, try
breaking kitty of going in these areas. Commercial cat repellents,
mothballs in cloth bags, orange peels, and rubbing alcohol will all
tend to keep kitty away. You can also try setting the cat’s food dish
near the spot, as cats don’t like to soil near their feeding area.
You can also try upside-down mousetraps or aluminum foil spread on
the floor. Unfortunately, the spraying may just relocate to another
part of the house in this instance.

Unfortunately, there’s no single cause for spraying and,
consequently, no magic cure-all. Careful observation and trial-and-
error are the only sure fire solutions. Still, you may at least now
have a place to start.
Good luck!

David the Dogman

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