Cat Spraying Problems

Why Does Your Cat Spray?

You love your cat. He is a wonderful companion. You had him neutered. So why is he spraying in the house? This is a very frustrating problem for pet parents to deal with.  It is messy and it smells bad. Let’s first look at why it is happening and then at some solutions.

Marking Their Territory

Most often, cats will rub up against surfaces, furniture, or even their owners to leave scent and claim their territory and belongings. If you have more than one cat, you may have noticed that after one cat has been to the vet, other cats in the household will hiss, growl, and even swat at him after he returns. There is one cat in my household who will continue this behavior with the offending cat for a week or longer before she accepts that cat back into the fold. And this is after a 15 minute visit with the vet! That is a reflection of how strong of a role scent plays in a cat’s life.

Cats Communicate Using Scent

Cats rub against their humans, against each other, and against objects in the environment to leave their scent and communicate with other cats that this is their territory. Scent glands located in their cheeks, paws, and flanks leave scent behind as they rub against furniture, door jambs, each other, and our legs.

In multi-cat households, all of this rubbing marks territories and creates bonds between the cats. When cats in the household approach each other, they smell each other, recognize one another, then may start grooming each other. This reinforces the bonds between them and decrease any tensions between them.

Cats may also mark their territory by scratching. In addition to the destruction that they cause through this behavior, they are also leaving scent behind.  They have scent on the pads of their feet and scratching transfers scent.

Cats need to have something to scratch. They need to be redirected to scratch on scratching posts or cardboard scratchers to satisfy their need to scratch and mark their territory without destroying your furniture, the woodwork, and your purse.

Urine Spraying and Squatting as a Means of Marking Territory

When a cat stands near a wall or other vertical surface and urinates, he is spraying, or marking territory. Marking territory is also accomplished by urinating on horizontal surfaces, such as furniture or items that are on the floor.

I have a cat that will mark on any plastic bag that happens to fall on the floor if it is not picked up quickly. He will also spray on trash bags. I think it has something to do with the smell of the plastic. These marking activities are not related to problems with using the litter box.

Your cat could be suffering from a medical problem such as a urinary tract infection or a urinary blockage.  A cat with these problems, may spray or squat to urinate in front of you and meow to get your attention. Other tactics include urinating in the bathtub or sink. Your cat will need medical attention to treat these problems. Both conditions are painful, but a blockage can be fatal in a very short time.

Spraying Due to Mating Behaviors and Stress

Your unaltered male cat’s marking can also be due to mating behaviors. The best solution to this is to have the cat neutered as soon as possible. This should solve most marking behaviors. The best solution with males is to neuter them before marking becomes an issue, by no later than five months of age.

Cats also mark territory due to stressors in their environment. Stressors can include many situations that change in your cat’s environment, such as new pets, owners on vacation, and stray cats roaming into your back yard. When cats are anxious due to changes in routine or environment, one of their defense mechanisms is to  mark territory. This accomplishes two things for the cat. He is telling you that he is stressed and he is relieving his anxiety by staking his claim to his territory.

Multicat Households are More Tricky

You may have some detective work ahead of you in a multicat household unless you catch your sprayer in the act. You can isolate each male in turn, which may backfire. If stress caused the problem, isolation may eliminate the stress and the spraying. Another method is to add an animal safe fluorescent dye to one cat’s wet food and use a black light to track the urine spray to try to determine whether that cat is marking.  If this doesn’t work on the first round, after the dye clears his system, work with the other cat in the same way.  This is not an exact science since just doing the isolation may change the behavior of both cats.

Make Changes to the Environment

The first thing that needs to be done is to clean up the mess and eliminate the cat urine smell.   Spray is unsightly against a wall and furniture and carpeting will harbor the smells. The cleaner should be something gentle because strong cleaners may encourage your cat to spray to remark his territory.

Try to block your cat’s access to his favorite marking areas. If there areas can’t be blocked, you may need to repurpose them, for example, by feeding your pet in those areas, playing, or giving treats there. This will help him not to associate the area with marking.

A tactic that I use is to keep items that my cats like to mark off the floor. This includes groceries in plastic bags that I am trying to empty after shopping, purses, suitcases, and items visitors bring in with them.

Try to Eliminate All of the Obvious Stressors

Eliminating stress due to looking at animals outside the house  can be accomplished by blocking your pet’s access to windows that look out to areas where these animals can be seen.  Blocking the noises from animals outside can be blocked with music.   If your cat becomes anxious while you are making all of these changes, you may need to take him to the vet to get some medication for his anxiety, since high anxiety can cause more spraying.

A positive environmental change that can be made is to start using Feliway pheromone products in the home. These are artificial cat pheromones that are released through a special heated plug-in dispenser. The pheromones decrease stress for your pet to help decrease marking activities and to decrease anxiety.

It isn’t easy to stop the spraying. Working with your pet and consulting with your vet will get you on the right track to eliminating this difficult problem. Both you and your cat will be less stressed.

Please leave me a post and let me know how this is working with your pet.

Best wishes.


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Do Cats Like Music?

They say music soothes the savage beast.  Well, our cats may not be savage, but some of them do appreciate a good tune or two.  There are many reasons for our cat’s music appreciation.  Cats have been shown to to appreciate music.  Music has been proven to be a positive factor in a cat’s environment.  Good music is helpful to cats and their humans for  many reasons…

Cats and Music

All creatures respond to sound.  We are startled when there is a loud noise, such as thunder or the loud banging of a hammer.  Cats respond to our voices and we respond to their purring and meowing.

Mammals are wired for sound.  But does your cat like music?  Some animal shelters play classical music to soothe their residents, so there is some evidence that cats listen to human music for comfort at times.

So there is some evidence that cats like music and that one of their favorite types of music is classical music.  Cats respond to the music and tone of the music.  A gentle piano piece, like the Moonlight Sonata, may soothe your cat.  More lively music may rev her up to run and play with a favorite toy.

Cats Have Very Sensitive Hearing

Cat’s ears are very sensitive.  They use their keen hearing, as well as their sight, to be efficient hunters in the wild.  Cat’s ears are shaped like cones.  Their cone-shaped ears have two functions:  catch the sound and amplify it.

Cat’s ears amplify the sound two or three times within a certain range.  Since cats can also rotate their ears, they are able to lock onto sounds in their environment.  Another efficient hunting tool in the cat’s arsenal.

What Kind of Music Do Cats Like?

Since they have such finely tuned hearing, we would expect that cats would enjoy music.  But, being cats, we can also expect them to be a bit finicky. Some cats seem to tune into the music that their humans like, like classical music.

It is also possible that cats form attachments to certain tunes, possibly those that you played while they were kittens. Like their humans, they go through cognitive development stages as they grow and mature.

What happens in the first several weeks of your kitten’s life will influence behavior for many years to come.   So it’s possible that your love of Beethoven or the Beatles may influence music that your cat is happy to listen to.  Cats may also get songs stuck in their head the way their humans do.

Although your music might work for your cat sometimes, he might want to listen to some tunes composed especially for cats…

Music for Cats

There is actually a scientific theory that each species prefers a certain type of music based on the form of their vocalizations and the pattern of their brain development.  David Teie’s theory states that humans have a pulse in their music because we could hear our mother’s heartbeat while we were in the womb.

Cat’s could not hear their mother’s heartbeat, so their preferred music would not have a pulse in it.  His theory uses the sounds such as suckling for milk as a central sound in cat music.  Cat music is best composed of cat-centric sounds.  Cats show a preference for cat-centric music when it is played for them.  Amazing concept!

Cats Benefit from Music Therapy

If your cat suffers from anxiety or is easily startled, playing soothing music for even an hour a day can help to calm her nerves.  It should be quiet, gentle music.  This is called enriching music and is very good for indoor cats.  Cats who suffer from serious medical conditions can also be helped through music therapy.  Anxiety goes along with any chronic condition and music helps the cats to be calmer and to rest better.

There is evidence that music therapy also benefits feral cats.  The music may help abused cats or nervous strays to gain the confidence to approach a human who is trying to help.  It may also help a nervous cat to be more comfortable to approach a new owner.

Music Leads to a Happier Cat

There are some key times when your cat may benefit from soothing music in the environment. Music can block sounds that irritate or agitate your cat.  It can be played while your cat is left alone in the home to quell her anxiety.  It is also comforting to a cat settling into a new home and new surroundings.  Music can be used to attract your cat into a room that you want him to be in and to stay there.

Cats are very responsive to animal noises and can become very agitated indoors when they hear them.  Music can be used to block outdoor sounds from your cat’s hearing so he won’t be riled up and anxious to prowl at night.  This works for both city and country cats.  There are a good number of animal sounds in the more developed areas that we can’t hear with our limited human hearing that will excite your cat.

Music can also be used to soothe your cat while he is riding in the car.  Many cats become agitated and howl and meow while in the car.  Although he may have figured out that he is going to the vet, he also doesn’t like to motion and sounds that go along with the ride.  Playing a soothing tune will help to ease his anxiety and give him a more pleasant ride.

So, Keep on Rockin’

You and your cat may not see eye to eye on everything, but one thing you can agree on is a love of music.  Kitty may be agreeable to listening to your classical music for a while to chill with you.  It may ease his troubled mind when you are away at work or when he is not feeling well.  He may ask in return that you learn to appreciate his kind of music and hang out with him on the sofa to listen to some good cat tunes.

Please leave me a post and let me know how this is working with your cat.



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