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“Help! My Kitty Is Spraying!”

Here are some helpful ways to deter your cat from urinating inappropriately in the home.

“Help! My cat is spraying, what can I do?” is a question that is commonly asked in the veterinary field. Some cat owners begin to experience this unwanted behaviour when their sweet little kitten starts to reach sexual maturity. Others can experience this with adult cats for multiple reasons. Some of which can include changing homes, introducing new family members to the home – for example, a new pet or a new baby, or something as simple as bringing in new furniture.

The most common reason for spraying behaviour is territorial marking. Like dogs, cats can urine mark on various surfaces to let other cats, both inside and outside the home, know that this space is the resident cats’ territory. Spraying is their way of communicating with other cats. Both male and female cats are capable of urine marking, but this is a more common behaviour seen in male cats.

If you encounter a situation where your kitten is reaching sexual maturity, it may be time for him or her to be fixed. It can reduce marking behaviour significantly. However, it does not guarantee that they will discontinue spraying altogether. If this is a situation where your adult cat is performing this unwanted behaviour, and they have previously been neutered, then other factors should be considered to help deter the spraying.

1) Multiple cat households may promote spraying behaviour in cats who are looking to claim certain areas of the home for themselves. Not having enough litterboxes in the home can also increase this behaviour as they will try to take “ownership” of a box. The golden rule is to have one litter box per cat plus one extra box. If you have three cats, there should be four litter boxes in various areas of the home.

2) Sometimes outdoor cats may come around the property. They might not be welcomed by your indoor cat and may cause your cat to feel threatened and attempt to claim and protect their territory. If this is the case, you can try closing the curtains and/or reducing the interactions between these two cats as much as possible. Feliway spray, a product that can be purchased at your veterinary clinic, can help reduce territorial spraying through calming pheromones.

3) If your kitty is consistently spraying in a particular spot, that location must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Feline urine has a very strong odour of ammonia that can imprint onto your furniture and carpets. It is very difficult to remove and generally requires an enzymatic cleaner to neutralize the scent. The sooner you catch your cat in that location and the sooner that area is cleaned, the better your chances of eliminating this behaviour. Relocating food dishes to the spraying location may help deter them as they may not want to mix “business with pleasure.”

If you have tried some of these options and the issue is still persisting, then medical intervention may be required. If other symptoms like straining, hiding and vocalization occur, please speak with your veterinarian as these might be signs of something more serious. Your veterinarian can provide appropriate diagnostic and behavioural plans that will work for you and your kitty.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 902.477.4040.

Written by: Meghan Toope, RVT

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