Cat Spraying Is Common
When a cat deposits urine on surfaces like furniture, doorways and walls it is called feline spraying or marking. It can be a little or a lot. A typical posture for a cat intent on spraying is to back into its area of choice, slightly quiver its tail, and, with no discernible crouching, the cat sprays the urine.
It is marking behavior and not a litter box problem. The cat does it not because it needs to pee, but to leave a message for other cats.
Un-neutered male cats usually begin spraying when they hit sexual maturity.
This can vary but in general occurs between five months and a year. There are a variety of factors that affect at what age a male cat begins to spray. For example boy cats that live in households with other cats or where there are other cats in close proximity are more likely to spray when they are at a younger age.
Spraying can also be related to stress. Neutering or spaying a kitten is known to prevent spraying problems. Get advice from your vet about when is best to neuter a particular kitten.
Feline spraying is one of the commonest causes for pets to be put down or surrendered to cat protection shelters.
Why do cats spray?
Cats use their urine to communicate. Urine contains pheromones that are chemicals which convey messages – like in the mating season, when males and females broadcast their availability.
Male cat will also use spraying to alert other male cats that there are boundaries beyond which hey should not go.
Stress can be the cause of your cat spraying
Cats like their routines and when these are disrupted it can result in stress, which can lead to spraying.
The first thing to identify is what is triggering the problem. Is anyone new in the house? Have you had a new baby or pet? Could your cat have been aggressed by another cat in the neighbourhood? Has your cat’s routine been changed? Is your cat ill? Have you changed your cat’s litter or litter tray?
Not only male cats spray!
All cats, male or female, neutered or not, may spray. However, it is most common in un-neutered male cats. Female cats on the rare occasion can spray when she is in season or when there are lots of cats in a household.
An intact males urine spray has the characteristic “tom” cat smell – very strong and unmistakable.
How do I stop my cat spraying?
There are several approaches, but not all will work for you, we’re afraid.
Neutering males and spaying females can reduce a cat’s motivation for spraying. Early neutering in most cases does stop a cat from spraying. Neutering after spraying has started may reduce it.
Research in this field is encouraging, For older cats, one study showed that 87% of male cats stopped spraying after castration – 78% immediately, 9% after a few months. But 13% did keep on spraying.
Pheromone diffusers & sprays
Feliway pheromone products are a possible solution to help manage a range of unwanted, stress-related cat behaviours. The aim of this therapy is to spray a calming pheromone in those places where your cat sprays. The product also comes as a plug-in diffuser.
You could also try a repellant called SSScat. SSSCAT ™ has a motion detector that will detect the cat’s motion and an aerosol, which releases a harmless spray to deter your cat from visiting the area where he or she has been spraying.
There is also another product called ScatMat, which emits a mild static pulse when it is touched to teach your pet where they should beware.
It is important to clean areas where the cat has sprayed as the residual scent can trigger further spraying. Use a laundry detergent with enzymes to wash the areas that have been sprayed. Mix 50% white vinegar with 50% water and spray the area well with the solution.