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Getting Territorial: How to Stop Your Cat from Spraying


Cats are territorial animals that display cat spraying behavior to mark their territory for other cats to know. It is natural cat behavior to communicate with other cats or animals for different reasons.

It can also develop due to changes in environmental conditions or some health issues.

Here’s a detailed guide for new cat parents or others who are thinking of bringing cats home. This comprehensive guide will help you identify the reasons behind spraying as well as ways to curb the unwanted, malodorous, and instinctive habit of cats.

Before starting off, I recommend to never spank or shout at your cat as it’s a natural behavior of cats. Because as a result of your aggressive behavior cats can develop behavior issues which are difficult to handle.

cat spraying image

What is Cat Spraying?

If you are finding urine on horizontal surfaces of floors or vertical surfaces of furniture/windows/gates/walls, your cat might have developed the innate ability of cat spraying. However, you should know the difference between cat spraying and cat urination.

Cat Spraying: Cat stands with tail erect and upwards to spray certain stinking fluids along with urine to mark their territory. Cat spraying is alternatively named as cat marking.

Cat Urination: Cat (male or female) squats to urinate and can be trained to urinate in the litter box.

Training needs your patience and attention.

Reasons behind Cat Spraying:

There can be many different reasons behind cat spraying, so you need to first identify the cause before you move on to the solution.

1. Medical Reasons

Cats begin to urinate out of the litter box due to several medical reasons that include stones or crystal formation in the urinary tract, arthritis, thyroid, liver problems, kidney failure, and diabetes.

When cats suddenly develop cat spraying behavior, medical issues can be suspected.

2. Territory Marking

Being a territorial animal, cats scratch, rub or spray on the walls, windows, furniture, and floors to let stray cats or neighbors’ cat know that it’s their territory. They demarcate the lines of yours and my homeland. Sounds funny, right? But it’s something natural that develops when other pets or stray cats begin to interfere in their matters or surpass their territorial lines.

3. Mating Needs

During the onset of the puberty stage of life, mating needs develop due to hormonal changes. Cats communicate with other cats via spraying for such needs.

4. Stray Cats or New Cats

Cats have scent glands on their paws, cheeks, and flanks which transfer their particular kind of scent as they rub or scratch on walls or furniture. The scent alerts other cats of its presence and they keep away.

Any cat from outside or a new pet at home creates stress and anxiety in cats as they feel threatened of being left alone or ignored by their owners. So, check if stray cats have started entering your house. If not, then, the reason of cat spray or urine marking may be the new pet you brought home a few days back.

5. Stress/Anxiety

Cats love to stay wherever they are, for years. Changes in environment or routine may upset them. The cat may want your attention to curb the internal anxiety that’s irritating the lovely cat.

Cats can get jealous of your new baby who has attracted all your attention. Cats may spray on the bedding of the new guest as they are feeling left alone.

Before cat spraying turns into a routine habit, train the cat for better.

6. Time and Attention of Owner

Every pet needs a lot of time, care, and attention. If you are too busy in your life and have brought a pet only to get entertained, you are calling for trouble. Pets have emotions and they can sense yours too. If your lack of attention has led to a cat spraying habit, try changing your routine and pay more attention to your cat.

7. Litter Box

Your cat might be avoiding the litter box and is urinating all around the house. She might not be comfortable with the new litter box. Try changing the litter or replace it with a new kind of litter.

8. Lack of Training

Pets are not just meant to be owned or adopted; they need to be trained properly for healthy behaviors. If your training has failed, begin again! Cats can be trained with love and care more quickly.

How to Prevent Cat Spraying Behavior:

1. Get Your Cat Spayed or Neutered

It is usually advised to get your cat spayed or neutered at an early age of six months to ensure that such unwanted behavior will not develop later on. Based on mating needs of cats, the behavior develops during puberty.

If you have adopted an adult cat, spaying or neutering it wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, you will benefit from the surgery as it will eliminate the development of various diseases that are common in unspayed or un-neutered cats.

However, small percentages of spayed or neutered cats still develop the habit of spraying. In that case, look out for other reasons.

2. Give Time And Attention To Your Cat Individually

Cats love to stay in the spotlight. Give them a lot of time and interact with them in appreciative manner. Yeah, you need to butter your cat most of the time. Move your fingers through the soft fur of your cute pet friend anytime you are free and watching TV. Bring toys for your cat to play around with you and at times alone (using mind stimulating toys). Keep them busy all the time and pay close attention to their behavior as well as social activities.

3. Give Anti-anxiety Drugs or Natural Homeopathic Medicines

If a change of environment is the reason, then give your cuddling friend some homeopathic herbs that calm their nerves. Keep the vet informed about whatever natural medicines you are giving to your cat.

If nature doesn’t work for your cat, anti-anxiety drugs like progestins, amitriptyline, etc. can be used. But, care should be taken with the quantity of dose and type of drug you are using. So, get it prescribed by a trusted and professional veterinary.

4. Maintain Distance From Stray Cats

You don’t need to maintain the distance but your cat should be kept out of reach from other wild cat breeds. Avoid attracting stray cats with food and water. Otherwise, your cat will begin to leave its odor by spraying everywhere to keep other cats far from its territory. Cat rivalry is a common spraying reason besides mating needs.

5. Appreciate The Generosity

Generosity is displayed by sharing and playing together with other pets/cats. If you are thinking to bring home a new cat, don’t worry about your cat. Cats can be easily trained to share things and love newbies. Yes, generosity can be developed in cats by appreciating the togetherness and the sharing attitude. Again, I would repeat: it takes time and patience.

6. Use Synthetic Pheromones

If anxiety has developed in the pet, you can try the option of using pheromones. It creates a cozy environment for the cat and calms down her nerves.
How do pheromones work? They function by mimicking the pheromone that’s commonly produced by cats when they are comfortable with their ambiance.

7. Locate the Areas Of Cat Sprays

You can search the places of cat sprays quite easily by their strong cat urine odor. If you cannot locate them, use black light that makes visible cat spray areas. Cats usually spray at the gates, staircases, windows, doors, chairs, and beds.

What you need to do is clean those places completely with washing powders or enzymatic neutralizers. If you are training the cat not to spray, such odors may bring back the memories, so clean all the places of cat spray. Some cats have been found to get repelled by the scent of enzymatic neutralizers and have stopped spraying around.

Some people also suggest placing orange peels at cat marking areas. Cats are repelled by the scent of orange peels and wouldn’t mark around that area.

However, household cleaning items containing ammonia or bleaching agents should be avoided for cleaning. They contain some ingredients of urine and can intensify the urine mark left by cats.

8. Litter-Train Your Cat

If you have adopted a street cat then you need to train it to urinate in their litter box. Give treats to your cat every time it follows your instructions. You should positively reinforce the cat’s healthy behavior of urinating in the litter box. Clean the litter box often, so that the cat is not repelled by the odor of it.

9. Consult the Vet

If all else has been ruled out and medical reasons seem to be the only culprits of cat spraying, get a detailed checkup of your cat.

Lastly, continue to love your pretty cats, they are not meant to be hated or spanked.

Hopefully, you will benefit from the information in this guide and find the real reason behind your cat’s spraying behavior. Let me know how you found the article in the comments section.

About the Author:

James Shore is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant. He is a professional freelancer with years of experience in dog training. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times. His pet-passion led him to develop https://www.labradortraininghq.com/ to help people.

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