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.

Sasha

Technical Resource:  http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/marking_territory.html?credit=web

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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.

Sasha

Resources: 

www.catster.com

https://www.musicforcats.com/

https://www.care.com/c/stories/6249/the-benefits-of-music-for-cats/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/cats-dont-like-human-music-play-instead

https://www.cathealth.com/behavior/how-and…/2179-why-do-some-cats-like-music

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So What’s Up with the Head Bunt?

Did you ever notice that your cat loves to bump you with her head?  Sometimes, she will bump you on your hand or your leg.  If she gets closer still, she may head bump you. So what does all of this mean to your cat?

Bunting is Body Language for “You’re Part of the Group”

Head bunting is a form of cat communication or body language that expressed that you are a special person to her.  She is showing that you are a member of her group.  This behavior is seen in cat colonies.  It is a way of sharing sent so the cats know that they are each a member of the group.

Allorubbing to Say Hello

So…your cat is making sure that you are recognized as a member of the group!  Bunting you is part of your cat’s scent communication, which also includes rubbing against you, other pets, and objects in the environment.  Head bunting and rubbing their bodies and tails against you are all part of behavior called allorubbing.  Your cat will do these things when she is happy.

If You Ain’t Bunting, You Ain’t Happy

Head bunting, in particular, is used when your cat is happy and not when she is having negative feelings.  She is expressing her love and trust, and bonding with you, by bunting you.  You can reciprocate by offering your forehead to receive the bunt, by petting your cat, or talking gently to her.

Leaving Her Scent Behind

Another reason for head bunting is to for your cat to mark you with her scent.  Cats leave behind pheromones when they bunt you, which claims you as part of their family and expresses their affection.

Cats have scent glands all around their faces and when they rub against you, another cat, or even a favorite piece of furniture, they are leaving their scent by depositing pheromones.  The purpose of this behavior is to mark the cat’s territory.  And to claim cat and human recipients as a part of the cat’s group.

This behavior started with the big cats and it is believed that it was part of mating behaviors.  Leaving pheromones on objects is used to mark territories in the wild as well as to leave scent communication, such as messages of bonding, alarm, and invitations to mating.

Attention-Seeking Kitties

If your cat turns his head down or to the side when he bunts, a good ear or chin scratch could be in order.  Cats love to have those areas stroked.  It releases endorphins when those areas are massaged and makes you cat feel good.  A purrfect ending to a purrfect day.

Best wishes for a great day for you and your cat!

Sasha

Resources: 

https://www.thespruce.com › Pets › Cats › Living with Cats

https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/cat-head-butting-what-does-it-mean

http://www.catster.com › Cat Behavior

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Positions, Everyone

Cat Pecking Order

If you have more than one cat, you have probably noticed that there is a certain pecking order, in where they sleep, when they eat, and how they line up for attention.  I have three two-year-old spayed females from the same litter.  At some point, they formed a pecking order.  There is a head of the bed kitty, a mid-level sleep against the legs kitty, and a keep the feet warm kitty.  They never deviate from their positions.

Top Cat is the Attention Seeker

Head of the bed kitty is very attention seeking.  She will tap-tap-tap on me for attention whenever I settle down to sleep and will not be satisfied unless I pet her for an extended period.  After this, I sometimes just put my hand on her or under her head to keep her settled.  If my super attention seeker and one of the others are both getting attention, she will try to insert herself between me and the other cat or bat them away so she can have ALL of the attention. She will also do this at other times when I am giving attention to one of the others.  I have redirected her many times, but this is her temperament.  I do my best to give a lot of attention to the other two as well at every opportunity to make up for it.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Cats?

My thoughts on this are that three cats may be too many, but it is too late since I love them too much to part with any of them.  I will just have to work harder to be sure that everyone gets the attention that she deserves.

 

Wishing you and your cat a purrfect day!

Sasha

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Communicate: Purr, Meow, Chatter

Cats purr to communicate contentment when we pet them.  They also purr when they are afraid or sick.  Their purring helps to calm them and may have healing properties.  Cats purr when approaching another cat in a friendly way, trying to make friends. Other reasons that cats purr for self-comfort when they are afraid, sick, or in some kind of distress, so purring is not always an indication that all is well.

Cat Talk

Among other diverse sounds that cats make are meowing and
chattering.  Many cats meow at you for food and for attention.  Many
Siamese will “talk” to you more than you might like.  A few of my cats
also do a great deal of chattering, especially when they are excited
about seeing those critters and birds while doing some kitty window
shopping in the living room.  Chattering is a behavior that cats have in
the wild that imitates the sounds that their prey make.  These sounds
can be used to trick the prey into being caught.

Best wishes for a great day for you and your cat!

Sasha

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Look

Cats are patient watchers, which is part of what makes them such great hunters.  Your cat can happily spend many hours gazing out the window, looking at people and traffic pass by, or just soaking up some sunshine.  Cats can stare at a fly or spider for hours, patiently waiting for that split second opportunity to spring into action to catch their prey.

Keeping Busy When the Humans are Gone

While you are away, and there are no entertaining flies or spiders to catch their fancy, cats can become bored and frustrated.  I have found that having bird feeders and critter feeders within sight of a few windows help to occupy them during their solo time.  Sometimes when I have caught my cats birdwatching or critter watching, they get so excited about it, they run around the room.  For those of you who don’t mind running the television while you are out, there are cat videos on Amazon Video that include live birds, critters, and cats moving around and making noises.  These really get the attention of a few of my cats and they get very engaged with the videos, meowing, chattering, and batting at the screen. Sometimes they get so excited that they run around the room or play with one of their toys, which is great exercise.

Best wishes for a purrfect day!

Sasha

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Playful, Playful Cats

 

Cats are very playful by nature and need some exercise every day,
just like their humans.  Some cats are confined to the house. Since
these cats don’t get outside to roam around to get their exercise, we need to help them to get enough exercise indoors.  They are many different kinds of toys to amuse both your cat, and you, that will ensure that they get enough exercise.  Teasers are a big favorite of
cats and their humans for interactive play.  They attract the cat’s attention and bring his hunting instincts into play as he stalks his prey, runs, and jumps to catch it.  Many cats love to chase the images projected by laser toys and you can give your cat a good run by having her run and jump around after the red dot.  Take care that you stop exercising your cat for a rest and a drink if she starts to pant!

Cats love to roll balls around and chase them, to play with balls in a round track, and to play with stuffed toys and scratchers, especially when enhanced with a little catnip.  Scratchers of various varieties are very popular with cats and their owners.  Cats love to scratch and we love to have them scratch where they don’t cause damage.  There are numerous types of scratchers from scratchers that hang on doorknobs to wavy scratchers and scratchers that your cat can also sleep on.  A light sprinkling (or spray) of catnip is  especially useful when introducing a new toy, both to get your cat’s attention and to get him interested.

Cats also love to climb.  Many cats enjoy having a cat tree with multiple levels.  Other features can include scratching posts and attached toys.  More complex trees include enhancements such as hammocks and boxes to hide in.  And speaking of boxes, many cats just can’t get enough.  Cats love to hide…under beds and sofas, in laundry baskets, in bookshelves.  Being enclosed makes them feel secure.  Another favorite toy is the nylon cat trail, or the cat tunnel, which sometimes has motion triggered lights or toys suspended from the top of the tunnel. Hiding and playing all wrapped up into one!

Best wishes for a great day for you and your cat!

Sasha

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Cassie, The Cat Who Wanted to Live

One summer night several years ago, we heard a loud, high-pitched wailing in our back yard.  My daughter tracked it down and found the tiniest kitten we had ever seen.  She had shiny black eyes and her coat was almost completely black, with just a sprinkling of light brown markings.  She was a newborn abandoned by her mother, and she was very hungry and all alone.

Cassie was so tiny that at first we fed her formula with a glass medicine dropper from the drugstore every few hours.   As she grew, she moved on to drinking formula from small plastic formula bottles from the pet store.  As she got bigger, she would hold the bottles between her little paws and throw them to the floor  after she emptied them.

Cassie was a character.  She loved to play and loved to have the undivided attention of her humans.  As she grew to her adult weight of four and a half pounds, she also developed a beautiful tortoiseshell coat…and tortietude.  She was a spunky little bundle of joy.

Often, when I was sitting at my desk doing homework,  she would jump from my bed to the desk and walk across my keyboard or sit and swat at the cursor while I was typing.  If I was so absorbed in my work that I was unintentionally ignoring her, she would sometimes  jump from my bed to the  back of my chair and grab onto my scalp with her little kitty claws.  There was no ignoring that.

When she was still very young, Cassie started to have problems with diarrhea.  The vet tried a few different medications, and the diarrhea would go into remission  for a time. When Cassie tested positive for feline leukemia, we were heartbroken.  We worked hard to keep her as healthy and as comfortable as possible, but eventually the disease was too much for her little body to bear.

As Cassie lay on the cushion at the vet’s office, I stroked her and she purred.  As the vet administered the medication to relieve her of her pain, I reassured her, telling her over and over, ” It’s OK, Cass.  It’s OK, Cass,” until Cassie stopped purring.  

Loving and caring for Cassie was a blessing.  She rests under a majestic maple tree in the back yard.  We will always miss her and remember her endless love, her engaging personality, and her ferocious will to live.

Sasha

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About Sasha

Welcome to my website.  Throughout my life, I have had many cats.  When I was growing up, my first cat, Puff, reached the ripe old age of 18.  As life went on, I took in a progression of wounded strays, bottle fed abandoned kittens, and cared for kittens and cats  who were well.  I took in even more who were  sick, nursing those I could back to health.  All of my cats have had unique personalities and quirks that endeared them to me and made them memorable.  I have always worked hard to observe and to research their behavior, to understand why cats do the things they do, and to do my best to have happy healthy cats.

WHY I CREATED CATSTHAT.COM

As I worked to understand the behavior of my cats, I did a lot of research.  I also spent a lot of time talking to sympathetic veterinarians who explained a lot of concepts to me. I would like to share my knowledge about cats to help people to help their cats to lead happier healthier lives.  I would also like to help people who are thinking about bringing a cat into their home to understand the temperament and behavior of cats and what is involved in their care before making that important decision to provide a cat with a forever home.

THE GOAL OF MY SITE

CatsThat.com was created to be a place that provides information about a cat’s life and care in a straightforward, understandable way and provides a forum for cat owners to ask about cat issues and to share information.  If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave your concerns below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Sasha Grey

CatsThat.com

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Welcome to Cats That!

Welcome to Cats That, a place to learn about cats, talk about cats, and share tips on the care and feeding of our furry friends. The most recent addition to our cat family was Nala, a young stray dilute tortie girl, who gifted us with five fabulous fur babies on Black Friday two years ago.  (Cats are always full of little surprises!) Nala was a first-time mom and did a wonderful job taking care of her brood.  We found a loving forever home for one of her kittens, but the rest of the litter found a home with us.  Nala and “the babies” are all sweet, loving kitties.  We can’t imagine life without them.

Best wishes for a wonderful day for you and your cats!

Sasha

 

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