How to solve the problem of spraying cats?
One of the reasons a cat sprays is that it is marking its territory, but there are several others too.
Spraying is when a cat deposits a small amount of urine on an object, usually indoors. It is different from when a cat urinates correctly in its litter tray.
This can be very frustrating for cat owners as cat urine has a lingering, unpleasant smell, plus spraying can damage furniture and household objects.
This article will help you identify why your cat might be spraying and what you can do to stop it.
What does it mean when a cat sprays?
Cats in the wild spray to mark their territory, when they are scared and to attract a mate. House cats also do this if they feel stressed.
Your cat is trying to tell you something if it sprays in the house. This anti-social behaviour is its way of communicating that something is wrong.
Some of the reasons your cat may spray are:
- Stress – is there a new person in the home, have you moved house or has your cat’s routine changed?
- Illness – does your cat show any signs of being unwell? A check-up with the vet is a good idea as they may have a urinary tract infection or cystitis.
- Other animals – have you introduced a new cat or dog to your home? Is there a cat or other animal outside that is stressing yours?
- Litter tray problems – if the tray is dirty or even too clean your cat may be upset. Changing the type of litter from grainy to more solid can also be distressing, as can moving the litter tray.
- Being unable to exit the house – if your cat has access to a garden and likes to go outside install a cat flap so it can come and go as it pleases. This is more practical than opening the door when you think your cat wants to go out.
Cats like routine and one of these changes might be causing yours to feel insecure.
Where are the most common places cats spray?
Your cat might choose a number of places to spray in the home, and none of them is going to be convenient. Whether on your new shoes or in a suitcase lying open ready to pack, a spraying cat isn’t fussy about where it urinates.
Common places where cats spray are:
- up curtains and on windows (as they often spray near entry and exit points to the home)
- on new items that smell different such as bags, shoes and clothing
- on vertical surfaces and furniture
- on bedding
You might not notice it at first, but one of the sure signs of cat spraying is the dreadful smell of cat urine.
What should I do when my cat sprays?
Calmly clean the area and carry on as normal if your cat sprays.
Don’t shout or get angry. Your pet doesn´t understand that it is upsetting you and spraying is perfectly normal for your cat.
If you punish the cat you are in danger of aggravating the situation instead of solving it. You could end up with a very stressed cat if you display aggressive behaviour. The trick is to understand the cause and deal with it in a positive way.
Do male cats spray after being neutered?
Whilst spraying is more common in male cats that have not been neutered, females do it too.
Neutering your cat may make it less likely to spray but it might not eliminate the problem completely.
How to stop cat spraying?
Once you have identified why your cat is spraying you can address the problem. If the reason is not clear (there have been no obvious changes in your household), you should visit your veterinarian so they can check if there is a medical reason for the spraying.
Whilst you can solve problems such as changing the litter until you find one your cat likes or keeping new items hidden away, it’s not so easy to deal with changes like moving house or bringing home a new baby.
This is when you can use an alternative therapy to help your cat. You may wish to try:
- Behaviour therapy – a cat behaviour specialist will look at the individual situation to identify the triggers and help you both overcome this problem. They will ask you lots of questions about your lifestyle and how your cat interacts. Once they have the background information they will design a unique plan to help stop your cat from spraying. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a specialist.
- Lactium® products – you may find that adding the natural ingredient Lactium® to your cat’s food solves the problem. This milk-derived ingredient is known for its calming effect on animals and is a natural way to treat their stress symptoms. There are no side effects and Lactium® will not harm your cat’s health.
- Neutering – if your cat has not been neutered it may be worth considering this. As well as the possibility of stopping spraying neutering also helps reduce the unwanted cat population.
- Spread the cat’s scent – you may find that putting the cat’s own scent in the area where they spray stops the problem. Your cat has scent-producing glands on its face and when it rubs against you it is spreading the scent to feel secure. Wipe your cat’s face gently with a soft cloth to collect their scent and after cleaning, wipe the cloth over the area they spend time in. This could help them feel less anxious as there is a familiar scent around them.
- Provide attention – your cat could be spraying simply because it doesn´t feel loved. In a busy household, it’s not always easy to give pets priority, but they need care and attention just like other members of the family. Take the time to sit with your cat and stroke and make sure it has plenty of toys to play with.
In addition, always provide your cat with enough food and water. Cats tend to eat occasionally, rather than in one go like a dog, so ensure it has access to food and water at all times. If you have a dog keep the cat food out of reach as the dog may be eating it without you realising.
All these solutions will take time to work, so don´t expect an overnight transformation. The key thing is to be patient and work with your cat to find the cause and solve the problem.