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If you are a cat owner, you already know that the first problem you have to deal with is when your cat starts to spray.
In addition to urinating out of physiological necessity, many cats use their urine to mark their territory, to let other cats know they have been there or to give an area its own special smell. This behavior is called urine spraying.
The statistic shows that urine spraying constitutes 44% of all house soiling complaints. The frequency of spraying in single cat households is approximately 25% and near to 100% in multi-cat households with over ten cats. But cats are not spraying to make us angry or to spite. It is just part of their 100% natural behavior, which is in the genes of every domestic or wild cat.
You have to know that urination outside of the litter box should not be confused with spraying. The difference is that urination is usually done on a flat surface, such as a towel or a bath mat or rug, and spraying is done on a vertical surface, such as the wall. It's possible your cat could begin spraying and stop using the litter box at the same time, but for different reasons.
Both males and females spray urine although the behavior is much more common in tomcats, and typically they urinate on vertical surfaces such as walls and furniture.
Why do cats spray?
Urine spraying and marking are social, sexual and territorial behaviors, and usually male cats are the culprits. It is normal for unaltered males to make their territorial claim by spraying. This starts right about the age of sexual maturity because it is triggered by hormonal changes. Females also tend to spray, especially when they are in ‘heat’.
Most cats are neutered and generally do not spray indoors. However, spraying can even occur with neutered males and spayed females, especially if you have waited to neuter a male cat after he has reached sexual maturity, by then, spraying may have become a fixed habit with him.
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 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.
Spraying is generally motivated by territorial anxiety, such as adding new cat, moving into a new home, or having too many cats in the home. Your cats may spray urine to mark their territory when they feel stressed. Situations such as seeing neighborhood cats walking around your yard, moving, fighting among family members and even scolding kitty, may cause your cat to start spraying. An unacceptable litter box - a dirty box, different litter, bad location - also could trigger a marking problem.
On other occasions, items belonging to a certain individual are singled out and sprayed. These objects are associated with a less than pleasurable experience for the cat. Marking can be an expression of anger, stress or frustration!
Anxiety caused by changes in work schedules, absences from home, spending less time with the pet, or inappropriate punishment may also cause a cat to spray in the home.
It is not uncommon for cats to start spraying also when there are some problems with a member of the household or with another pet. For example, competition may exist with another cat in the neighborhood that she perceives as a rival or threat.
Many people don't realize, but all these things can cause a cat to spray or urine mark. And when she does that, it is usually a sign that she is feeling stressed or threatened by something or someone.
How to control cat spraying?
1. The easiest way to deal with spraying is to consider neutering or spaying. The statistic shows that in 90% of all tomcats this procedure is effective. But you should do this before your kitten’s mature - when she is 4-6 months old.
2. The issue of proper litter box maintenance should always be addressed when dealing with a spraying problem. Spraying is generally motivated by territorial anxiety, but it can also be caused by stress created by a poor litter box situation, as a dirty box, scented litter, bad location. If you are a multiple cat owner, it is strongly advised that you have one litter box for every cat. Keep the litter boxes scooped and clean, and be mindful when washing them to use only mild and unscented cleaning agents.
3. Try to lower cat’s stress by maintaining a routine, because the changes often cause cat spraying. Feed at the same time each day and keep their food, litter box, and bed in their respective places.
4. Give your cats enough attention. Play with her, massages her, talk to her. Give her climbing cat tree and tons of praise, affection, and attention for simply breathing. Constantly reassure her that she is the most wonderful cat in the world. If they are not threatened, most cats do not feel the need to mark their territory at all and are quite content to leave the worrying to us.
5. Urine spraying occurs near doors or windows where cats can see outdoors, especially when strange cats are hanging around outside. If your cat is spraying because she has received a threat from another cat or animal, try limiting the area she can roam in your house to improve her feeling of security. If the problem is with the cats that are outside the home, you should try to reduce your cat’s exposure to those cats, because when she sees other cats, her natural response will bee to mark her territory, which is your home.
6. Clean soiled areas thoroughly as well because cats love to urinate in places that already smell like urine. Use products that have natural enzymes actually to devour odor-causing bacteria instead of just covering up the scent. Avoid products that contain ammonia as these could remind the cat of the smell of urine. And remember, even if you can't smell something, your cat probably can.
7. In multiple cat households, urine spraying becomes extremely difficult to resolve because of the natural competitiveness between the various cats. If the cause for urine spraying cannot be determined or removed, a reconditioning program or treatment with drugs, or both, may be necessary.
8. Do not hit or yell at your cat when he sprays. It will only make the problem worse. Instead, try to figure out why he is feeling insecure and take steps to ease the disruption.
Finally, if the problem persists, you must consult with a cat behaviorist. A holistic vet also may have herbal remedies that they have used with success. If that fails, there are prescription drugs that have been used to treat spraying cats, but they are not without serious and life-threatening side effects.