Cats’ spraying is a form of communication for other felines – and a source of annoyance for their humans. When it’s geared toward other cats, it might be a show of status, sexual interest, or indicate stress or frustration. If it’s aimed (not literally, hopefully) at humans, it’s likely showing their irritation at something – perhaps at an upcoming trip if they mark on your suitcase, or a mess if you’ve added another cat to the household.

Spraying can be tough to eliminate, and all cats can backslide. Here are some tips on how to combat it:

  • Most spraying is done by unneutered males and unspayed females in heat. Get ‘em fixed! Sterilization will dramatically cut down on spraying.
  • Don’t avoid the problem. If you ignore the spraying, the cat will keep doing it and it will become an ingrained behavior.
  • Play detective and try to determine the cause. Then, remove the cause from the environment. If it’s a crowded house, another home might be necessary for a foster kitty. Use a fence topper to keep stray cats from entering your yard - and putting your indoor kitty on edge. (Shades, shutters or other barriers could help with this, too.)
  • If you’re having trouble figuring out the cause, ask an animal behavior expert for a consultation – or call the Tri-County Humane Society (320-252-0896). One of our staff members would be happy to try to assist you.
  • Clean marked areas carefully with a commercial odor neutralizer. (They are sold at Tri-County Humane Society’s store, located in the front lobby! All proceeds go back to our animals.) If a cat can still smell the markings, that’s an invitation to reoffend.
  • Combine treats with the stressors. For instance, if your cat is nervous about you leaving on a trip, feed him or her near your suitcase – or bring the luggage out even when you’re not going anywhere to make sure the cat gets used to its presence.
  • If the behavior doesn’t stop, plan a trip to your veterinarian immediately. Drug therapy may be needed to help make a permanent change.
  • Whatever path you take, don’t delay. You don’t want this behavior to become a pattern. Best of luck!

Source: Adapted from information by Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

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