09 April 2014 | Cat health issues

What’s That Smell? The Lowdown On Feline Spraying

It’s never pleasant to come home to find puddles of cat urine throughout the house.

Why do cats feel the need to urinate outside of the litter box and what can be done about it? Firstly, you need to identify if your cat is spraying (also known as marking), as opposed to simply urinating inappropriately.

When a cat sprays, he will usually urinate on a vertical surface (a wall, couch, door etc), with his tail erect, sometimes twitching his entire body, depositing a fairly small amount of foul smelling urine.

Why does a cat spray?

Unlike dogs, cats lack social skills, and spraying is a form of communication; their way of sending messages without actually having to confront one another.

  • Marking territory: The most common understanding as to why cats spray is they are marking their territory. By leaving his mark on the door, his message is clear; “This is my home – do not enter.”
  • Announcing availability: Spraying is common during mating season. The pheromones in the urine communicate ones availability. “Ladies, I’m ready and willing to have your babies!”
  • Anxiety:  Cats thrive on routine and familiarity – they don’t like change. Any change to his environment, such as a new baby, new pet or even new furniture, can cause stress which can result in spraying. “What’s that thing that has come into my home, cries all the time and smells odd? I don’t like it.”

How to stop the behaviour

Contrary to popular belief, not only male cats spray, females do it too, although generally not as frequently.

  • Sterilization: As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and neutering your cat before he starts spraying is the best bet. Neutering them after they’ve started has been known to help, but it’s not nearly as effective.
  • Provide a safe haven: Providing a safe and secure environment is the most effective (but not always practical) method of stopping your cat from spraying. You can’t exactly leave the new baby at the hospital! But you can create a safe area for the cat to enjoy, provide scratching posts, play with him, and cat-proof the nursery. In households with more than one cat, try and separate them, and create plenty of places for cats to hide and enjoy their own territory. In households where external factors are influencing your cat’s insecurities, ascertain how you can make him less vulnerable. (Keep curtains and doors closed etc)
  • Calming supplements: Try Regal Pet Health’s Cat Health Tonic which has been formulated using Dr. Schüssler’s Biochemic Tissue Salts to assist with not only keeping your feline in good health, but to calm him too.

If you feel your cat is simply urinating inappropriately (and not spraying as outlined above), it is advised to consult your veterinarian as he could be suffering from a medical condition or other behavioural issues which only your veterinarian or animal behaviourist will be able to diagnose.

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