Cats use and leave scents to identify territory or signal intent. They often rub their faces or flanks against objects to leave a scent, which most pet parent noses can't detect. Leaving scent through urine spraying, however, is a cat behavior pet parents aren’t likely to appreciate.
Cats spray indoors for a variety of reasons. Pet parents can start cat training to prevent or avoid this behavior.
Why Cats Spray
Cats engage in urine marking for various reasons, but the most common relate to hormone changes, territory marking, and stress. Both male and female cats spray, but unneutered males are much more likely to spray to claim territory, especially in multi-cat households.
Causes of Urine Marking
Cats may feel compelled to leave their scent because of:
- In-home Pet Conflicts
- Perceived Territory Encroachment by Neighborhood Cats
- New Family Members or Furniture In Their Territory
- Mating Behaviors
- Stress or Anxiety
How to Stop a Cat From Spraying
Here are eight ways to help prevent cat spraying:
1. Spay or Neuter
This procedure helps reduce spraying in up to 90 percent of males and 95 percent of females. Since urine marking is often a mating behavior, it becomes less instinctive after a cat is fixed.
2. Neutralize Odors
Thorough cleaning neutralizes odors so the cat is less inclined to re-mark. When cleaning, avoid ammonia-based cleaners because they are too strong for cat health and may encourage cats to re-mark to mask unfamiliar ammonia scents.
3. Add More Litter Boxes
If there are in-home conflicts among cats, additional litter boxes can help keep cats apart. While marking isn’t a litter box issue, it can lessen spraying if cats are able maintain their own litter box territories. Pet parents may also want to clean litter boxes more frequently if a cat is spraying inside the home.
4. Lessen the Tension
Distributing resources can reduce conflicts in multi-cat homes. From food and water stations to scratching posts, cat trees, and toys, multiple resources in various locations can reduce the need to urine mark.
5. Adjust the Blinds
Neighborhood cats may wander the yard and cause stress to an indoor cat. To prevent visibility, semi-close the blinds on large windows or add curtains. Lightweight and light-colored curtains can provide security without darkening the room.
6. Switch Out the Cat Flap
Reassure indoor/outdoor cats of their secure and safe territory by replacing the cat flap with an upgraded model, such as one that opens with a magnetic or RFID chip. Cats can wear programmed magnet or chip collars that open for them but not a neighborhood cat. This will help them feel more secure in the home and less inclined to spray while indoors.
7. Reintroduce Facial Scents
Cats often add facial pheromones to unfamiliar items. New furniture is less likely to receive urine marking when it has facial scents already. Pet parents can wipe a soft cloth along their cat’s face and then wipe the cloth on new furniture or belongings to deposit the pheromones.
8. Use Cat Anxiety Products
Cat-safe anxiety medications calm kitties and help them feel more relaxed in the home. Calming chews are another option for when cats are stressed, as are calming pheromone diffusers.
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