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