Cat’s Spraying Behavior and Its Manifestation
A cat’s spraying behavior is one of the most unpleasant behaviors a cat may display. Some feline owners are familiar with this situation—the cat backs up toward a vertical surface, holds up its tail and sprays urine in short spurts. This behavior may hinder a good relationship between a pet and its owner. That’s why figuring out why your cat is spraying is the first step to ending this nasty habit.
What is cat spraying?
Cat spraying is a feline marking behavior, not a litter box problem. It occurs when a cat deposits a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces, such as walls, doorways and furniture. A cat does not spray because of a need to urniate but rather marks territory with urine. There is a difference between regular urination and spraying. What defines this dissimilarity is the position and choice of location. When a cat sprays, he backs up toward a vertical position and sprays a little amount of urine in areas such as walls, furniture and the like. On the other hand, when a cat urinates, he uses a squatting position on horizontal surfaces.
Male cats that are unneutered will usually start urine spraying behavior once they reach sexual maturity. The ages of sexual maturity may vary greatly but in general it occurs between 5 to12 months. There are several factors that may affect the age at which a tom cat begins to spray. Male cats in multi-cat households or in close vicinity to other cats are more likely engage spraying at a younger age.
Spraying is territorial and may also be associated with stress. Spraying problems in the future can be prevented by neutering or spaying a kitten at an early age. Neutering is one of the ways to get a male cat to stop spraying. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best age to neuter your kitten.
Multi-cat households usually have greater trouble with spraying than single cat households. Overcrowding of cats will often result in territory marking problems. Unfortunately, cat spraying and inappropriate urination problems are common reasons why cats are surrendered to animal shelters or even euthanized.
Why do cats spray?
Cats are territorial creatures by nature. There are many reasons why cats may begin spraying. Urine marking is one way a cat may communicate with another cat. The cat’s urine contains pheromones, chemical substances that are capable of addressing a message to other cats. That’s why spraying has become a common component of feline behavior during the mating season with males and females communicating their availability with their pheromones.
Spraying is another manifestation of territorial marking. Sometimes, cats may begin to spray when they perceive a territorial threat. They may use a variety of signs to mark their territory and set clear boundaries to other felines. Cat’s territorial marking codes include scratch marks, uncovered feces, scent rubbed off their skin and urine sprayed in deliberate locations.
For unneutered cats, it is perfectly normal to make territorial claims by spraying. This manner starts with sexual maturity and is triggered by hormonal changes. However, it can become an inherent part of the cat’s behavioral range with time.Female cats in heat also tend to spray. This apparently serves as a form of announcement. Females inform males in her vicinity that she is in heat by releasing special scents in her urine and spraying it in strategic locations.
Moreover, cats spray to express displeasure, jealousy and undiagnosed physical ailment. Spraying can occur even with neutered males and females. Some people would prefer to wait and neuter a male cat after he has reached sexual maturity. By then, spraying may become a fixed behavior; cats will spray merely out of habit.
How to stop cat from spraying?
- If you are having difficulty dealing with cat spraying, you do not have to worry much. There are several things that you can do to try and solve the problem. Here are some tips on how to keep your cat from spraying.
- Have the cat examined by the vet first. Any problem involving changes in urinating habits may indicate one of several medical issues that may need immediate veterinary attention. Further actions should be taken after the cat has given a clean bill of health by the veterinarian.
- In case the cat is unaltered, have the cat neutered as soon as possible. In some cases, this will completely solve the issue.
- If you think that the reason for the spraying pattern is some perceived threat from another feline, explore the problem and try to accommodate your feline with the space and privacy it needs.
- Spraying is sometimes a reaction to general stress not essentially related to territorial matters. Try to lower the cat’s stress by maintaining a routine and keeping his environment unperturbed and cool.
- Avoid punishing your cat when spraying. Restrain from hitting the cat or rubbing its nose in the urine. Cats cannot be taught by punishment. In fact, punishing him can only cause him more stress, thus making the situation worse.
- You should clean the stain thoroughly since the smell of its urine may encourage him to spray again on the same spot. Use special products that can completely neutralize any odors. Avoid using products that contain ammonia since these may remind the cat of the smell of urine.
It is difficult to solve a spraying problem. That’s why it is better to call in an expert quickly rather than letting the problem get worse.