How can I prevent my cat from spraying?
are not difficult to solve once the reason for the
behavior has been identified, the stressful stimulus
addressed or, if possible, removed and the soiled
areas treated. Dr. Wayne Hunthausen, Director of
Animal Behavior Consultations, offers some helpful
advice in his article entitled, "Feline Housesoiling:
A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment."
The Causes of Urine Spraying
cats in the home, tension among the resident animals
or visiting cats can all trigger spraying behavior.
Environmental stress, such as moving into a new
home, may also lead to a spraying problem. Anxiety
caused by changes in work schedules, absences from
home, spending less time with the cat or inappropriate
punishment may also cause a cat to spray in the
home. When gathering information about the problem,
close attention should be given to anything that
might elicit a territorial response or make the
cat anxious. Sometimes the stimuli for spraying
are obvious. Other times, the provocation might
not be as apparent, such as when the scent of another
cat is brought into the home on a visitor's clothing.
might cause a cat to spray urine include:
• cats visiting in the yard;
• new animal added to the household or new
• problems with a member of the household;
• problems with another animal;
• moving or remodeling or
for controlling marking problems involves reducing
the cat's exposure to the stimuli that trigger marking
and altering the cat's response. The cat's opportunity
to see outdoor cats should be curtailed by closing
drapes, modifying window sills and moving furniture
near windows where the cat perches. All evidence
of urine odor should be cleaned from around doors
and windows, indoors and outdoors. If tension between
cats in the household is contributing to the problem,
that issue should be addressed or the cats should
be confined to separate areas in the home. In households
with a large number of cats, the problem may not
stop unless the number of cats is reduced.
To prevent spraying
problems from starting in the first place, all cats
in the household should be spayed or neutered before
the age of six months. After spraying has begun,
having the cat spayed or neutered is still effective
in stopping this behavior in 90% of male cats and
95% of female cats, regardless of age or experience.
A new approach to the
treatment of spraying problems is the use of Feliway,
an environmental spray that contains a synthetic
chemical that mimics the scent found in the gland
near the lips of cats (the facial pheromones). It
is available through veterinary clinics and in WHS'
Animal Antics store. Feliway is sprayed directly
on spots that have been previously sprayed by the
cat and washed with water. (If the spot is on upholstery,
it will have to be cleaned with a strong enzymatic
cleaner and a piece of fabric sprayed with Feliway
can be placed on top of it). When the cat returns
to the area to freshen up his mark, he sniffs the
Feliway and gets the message that this spot has
already been marked facially. When the directions
for the use of this product have been carefully
followed, it has proven to be very effective in
reducing and eliminating the motivation for spraying.
If all else fails...a
drug that has also been recently introduced for
use in cats, Buspirone, has been used with success
in spraying cases involving territorial stress due
to competition between cats in the home. Discuss
this option with your veterinarian.
• Spraying behaviors
can be an indication of various health problems.
This possibility should be ruled out with a thorough
examination by your veterinarian before a behavior
modification is initiated.
• Although spraying
is generally thought to be motivated by territorial
anxiety, it can be also be caused by other types
of stress, such as stress created by a poor litterbox
situation (e.g., dirty box, scented litter, bad
location). The issue of proper litterbox maintenance
should always be addressed when dealing with a spraying
problem. (See our articles…"What
Is The Best Way to Prevent Litterbox Problems?"
Cat Stopped Using Her Litter Box. What Can I do?")
If you would like to
work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist
one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please
call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.