Cat Behavior E-mail


What is Spraying?

Kitty backs up to a vertical surface, holds up his tail and sprays urine. It’s not that he has litterbox issues – that’s a whole different kettle ‘o fish - he’s actually marking his territory with urine.

Why Do They Do That?

Cats are territorial creatures. It’s normal and healthy for unaltered males to stake out their territorial boundaries by spraying. Unspayed female cats in heat also sometimes spray – the ladies use spraying as a means to advertise their condition to all available males in the neighborhood.

Spraying can sometimes continue even after males and females are neutered. Sometimes these cats have already picked up the habit of spraying by the time they’ve been neutered, so they’ll just go on doing it.

A cat might also spray when there’s a territorial threat; This threat could be a new pet in the house, or maybe there’s a neighborhood kitty that’s out to invade your cat’s space. Sometimes your cat might just be feeling anxious or stressed, and chooses to reassure himself by marking territory.

Try these steps

First have your cat examined by the vet. Any urinary issues could be a sign of a serious medical condition, so rule out ill health first.

If kitty is still unaltered, now’s the time for spaying or neutering. Usually this will take care of the problem. If another animal (whether it’s one of your own household pets or a marauding neighborhood cat) is causing your cat to feel threatened, try to remedy the situation if possible so that your cat can feel safe and secure once again. Similarly, if your kitty is spraying because he’s feeling generally stressed out, try to pay attention & adhere to his normal routine, doing your best to keep his home environment relaxed and soothing.

Never punish your cat for spraying. It won’t work - cats don’t respond to punishment – and besides, if you smack his snout or try to rub his nose in the urine, you’ll only increase his stress level…which he’ll no doubt want to alleviate with more spraying.

Make sure you thoroughly clean the urine spots as soon as you find them, so that kitty won’t be tempted to keep respraying over and over in the same spot. Use one of the modern cleaning products that are specially formulated to neutralize pet urine odors. Don’t use any product that contains ammonia, since the ammonia itself will smell somewhat like pee to the cat, and will remind him to spray again in the same location.