Cats and Spraying: Why Cats Spray and the Best Ways to Tackle It
From frequent grooming to fastidious bathroom habits, it’s a well-known fact that felines are very clean animals. Hence, it might come as a surprise to you when you find your cat spraying or marking their territory with urine.
Your cat spraying—especially around the house—can be both unpleasant and unhygienic, so we’re here to help! Below, Cat in a Flat explains why Mr Whiskers sprays, and offers tips on what you can do to stop it.
Why does my cat spray?
Our fur friends may be domesticated, but they aren’t all that far removed from their wild roots. It’s natural for your kitty to want to mark their territory or leave their scent in the areas that they frequent. Although our fur friends will generally do this through rubbing or scratching, cats can mark their territory by spraying too.
By spraying, your cat is signalling ownership. However, Mr Whiskers may mark his territory for other reasons as well:
Your cat is spraying because there are other cats in the vicinity.
Perhaps there are other kitties in the neighbourhood, or you’ve brought a new fur friend into the home. In this case, your cat is spraying because he is trying to protect his territory and warn intruders off.
Your cat is spraying because of changes in the home.
Our fur friends are not fans of change and can get very upset when there is the slightest shift in their environment. Your cat could be spraying if you’ve moved home recently, there’s a new addition to the family, or they’ve experienced some sort of travel stress.
Your cat is spraying because they aren’t neutered.
Like with any animal, the urge to mate is strong with felines. Unneutered male kitties are very territorial when seeking a mate and will mark their territory with a pungent spray. Therefore, getting your cat neutered is a safer and healthier option for them and you!
Your cat is spraying because of illness.
Urine marking could be a sign of some sort of medical issue. Male cats in particular can suffer from painful urinary maladies like cystitis. If you notice Mr Whiskers is struggling to urinate or in distress while doing it, this may be a sign of a physical problem. If this is the case, take your sick cat to the vet immediately.
What to do if my cat is spraying
If your fur friend is already neutered and not in need of medical care, don’t worry, there are a few other ways to tackle your cat’s spraying. You will need to treat your cat’s spraying as a behaviour problem and learn how to decrease their motivation to mark their territory.
Here are a few simple steps to help your cat stop spraying:
- Improve litter box hygiene. Your cat could be spraying simply because they don’t want to use their litter box. Make sure to choose the best cat litter to suit your fur friend and keep an equal number of litter boxes to cats in the home, plus one. Clean your kitty’s litter box at least once a day, twice if possible.
- Help your cat feel secure. If your cat is spraying because other neighbourhood felines have access to his or her territory, you should consider securing any outdoor areas to prevent intruders. Keep windows closed to stop your kitty from smelling cats outside. Using a pheromone agent like Feliway can also help soothe Mr Whiskers and make your cat less likely to resort to spraying.
- Reintroduce your new cat. Bringing a new fur friend into the home can be great for your kitty’s mental health, but it might also cause him to feel anxious or territorial. Avoid potential feline stress by taking the right steps to introduce the new kitten to your cat. If Mr Whiskers is still struggling to get along with a new fur friend, use this same method to ‘reintroduce’ the two cats.
- Hire an excellent cat sitter. A major cause of stress for felines can be when their owners go away. If you need to travel, it’s incredibly important to hire a cat sitter who not only gets along with Mr Whiskers but can also make him feel at ease. Your kitty is less likely to spray when under the care of a trustworthy cat sitter who understands his or her needs.
How to stop a cat spraying when you’ve tried everything
Leaving a scent or marking their territory is incredibly important to cats. However, if you’ve tried all our tips and your cat is still spraying, you may need to help them mark their territory in a healthier way.
Your kitty is less likely to spray if his scent is already there. As mentioned above, felines can mark their territory by rubbing against or scratching the furniture. So, if you’ve noticed that your cat likes spraying in a certain room or area of the house, here are a few steps to spread Mr Whiskers’ scent yourself:
- Clean the soiled area thoroughly. DO NOT use a strong-smelling cleaner—this will only encourage your furry friend to spray the spot more frequently to drown out the odour. If possible, use a ph neutral cleaner.
- Using a soft cotton cloth, rub it gently on your furry friend’s face to collect scent. The glands on his cheeks and head are what produces your kitty’s unique smell!
- Rub the cloth on the furniture and walls of the room where your cat sprays. Repeat this daily.
- Spritz the area with Feliway as well—this mimics the scent produced by the glands on your fur friend’s face.
However, if you’re still struggling with your cat spraying, reach out to have a chat with your vet. They can put you in touch with a qualified animal behaviourist who can figure out any underlying issues you may have missed and help treat your cat’s anxiety.