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Spraying Cats

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We don't mean spray painting cats (heaven forbid!) or even the playful sport of spraying cats with water. We're talking about those pesky felines that spray urine all around the house, leaving those delightfully smelling pee stains on your curtains and walls. Not fun.

Cats use urine marking as a way of spreading around their own scent. This serves to send messages to other cats that the area is occupied, so to speak, as well as to increase their own sense of security in a certain area by surrounding themselves with a familiar smell.

Cats which are sexually intact (i.e. not neutered) urine mark intermittently as part of normal sexual behaviours, but anxiety related or reactionary marking can occur with both males and females, neutered or not. This marking happens in reaction to something that has either already occurred or is anticipated within their environment and can be, for example, the introduction of a new pet, human or even a piece of furniture into the home! (So no shopping!)

A typical feline territory is made up of a central core territory surrounded by a home range area and a larger hunting range area. It's within the core area that eating, sleeping and playing is carried out and a cat will not mark within that core area because this is where they feel safe. Making your home its core territory (from your cat's point of view) will greatly reduce the incidence of urine marking.

So here are a few ideas to help stop the spraying cat:

  1. Increase your cat's home territory security by reinforcing it as core territory. This means providing more areas and methods for sleeping, eating and playing within your home, and blocking out any visual access to neighbouring cats.
  2. Cats are drawn back to freshen up old urine marks as the smell changes over time, so cleaning these areas is important. Avoid products with ammonia and chlorine as these smell like urine to cats. Use a normal detergent, allow the area to dry, then spray it with surgical spirit.
  3. The use of pheromone products such as Feliway in your home is excellent for reducing urine marking, and speaking to your vet about medications may also help in certain cases.
  4. Try to choose suitable cats as companions because cats below the age of three often struggle to interact with cats above the age of three. Litter-mates generally make better household companions.
  5. Importantly, avoid punishment for spraying as this only serves to create more insecurity in your cat and will likely encourage him to either spray elsewhere or revert to other bad behaviours such as over-grooming or inter-cat aggression.

If none of these options work for you, get an air-filtration mask and accept your fate.

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