How To Deal With Cat Spraying

training a cat to not spray
Today I am going to talk about how to deal with a cat that is spraying or marking.  A cat who sprays is a cat who is backing up to an item or place lifting their tail and spraying a small amount of urine + other chemicals onto that place. Their urine contains pheromones that other cats recognize them by. You can tell when a cat is spraying because their tail will shake or twitch as they do it. You will also find telltale odorous urine spots about cat nose height on furniture, curtains, walls, etc. This is usually a male cat problem but female cats can exhibit this behavior too.

When cats are sexually mature, they begin to mark and spray. They are either letting other cats know they are ready to go or claiming territory.  Cats do this with other cats, animals and even people when they want to warn them off. Cats will also spray when they are stressed. Spraying their scent around is a way they create familiarity for themselves. As I wrote before, cats are creatures of habit. This means they do not like change.

Neutering and/or spaying can fix the problem but it is not always an absolute fix. Statistics say that 90% of neutered/spayed cats stop within 2 months. If your cat falls into the 10% category then you will need to look closer at why they are spraying. Cats  tend to be in competition for spaces, furniture, food, water, even the litter box.   If your cat is still spraying even after being neutered then there are other ways of addressing the problem.

First you need to identify what the problem is (beside the fact that your cat is spraying stinky everywhere.)  There are questions to help you identify the problem.

  1. Have you recently moved to a new home?
  2. Have you rearranged or bought new furniture?
  3. Is there more than one cat in the house? 
  4. Is the problem another pet such as a dog? 
  5. Is there a new significant other in your life? 
  6. Is there a new baby or other new member of the family.
  7. Is the cat spraying a suitcase or travel bag? (New smells are bad to cats and can trigger it)
  8. Is the cat spraying your bed or clothes?
  9. Is the cat spraying an area where you feed him?
  10. Is the cat being troubled by outdoor cats through the window?
  11. Are you cleaning with a cleaner that contains ammonia?(there is ammonia in urine...)
  12. Is the cat dragging his backside on your carpet? (it's a medical problem so go to the vet)
After you answer these questions this should help you determine the reason for spraying and help you take appropriate measures to change this behavior. It is important to clean the area very well with a cleaner containing enzymes every time the cat sprays. You can find these cleaners at the pet store or simply mix up 1 T Dawn Dish Soap with 1 C Vinegar and place into one of those foaming hand cleaner containers. (I buy a cheap one at the dollar store). Pump foam onto the spot and allow to sit until the foam disappears. The enzymes will break down the pheromones.
  • If it is about food then give each pet their own water and food dish and you can even move the dishes to different areas if the problem persists. 
  • If it is your bedding and clothes then examine whether you are spending enough time with your pet or if a new person has joined you in your bed displacing the cat's favorite place to snuggle you may need to close doors to keep the cat out until he forms new habits. that are not so offensive.
  • If it is an issue with another cat then you may need to separate the offender until they calm down and/or you can provide more beds, perches or ramps in different areas of the house to alleviate the battle. Make sure you clean each spot well so the other doesn't start marking too.
  • If the problem is the neighbor cat that your pet sees through the window then limit the cats view or access to the window. You can spray orange essential oil around the window or door where the offending neighbor cat is visiting (most cats dislike the smell of citrus)
  • If the problem is stress or if you have moved to a new home or moved furniture around then there are products at the pet store that have happy pheromones (without the stinky smell for humans) that you can spray around to help the cat feel more relaxed and at home. There are even dispensers that will emit the pheromones on a timed basis. This method can actually help with all the above questions.
  • If you are in a new home you may need to use a black light to locate any spots where previous owner's pets did their deeds and then clean them well to remove the pheromones.
  • For persistent kitties, there is a product that you can uses that "tricks" her into thinking a spot has been freshly sprayed (without the stinky for us) so she won't bother. 
  • It nothing seems to help your cat calm down then your vet can also prescribe a tranquilizer for your pet to chill him out . This should be on the list of last resort fixes.
  • Be certain the issue isn't a battle over the litter box. If so then provide more than one.
  • Another last resort fix can be finding a new home for the cat that is not so upsetting.  Some cats just need to be the only pet.  
Hopefully you will understand your cat's behavior better now and be able to find a way to change it.  Usually understanding the problem and the ways of a cat will help you find the answer.

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