Featured News 2016 What Causes Cats to Spray?

What Causes Cats to Spray?

Some cats engage in urine spraying or marking, commonly referred to as "spraying." In this case, the cat will back up to an object, hold his tail erect and release urine onto an object. The chemical makeup of the sprayed urine is different than the urine a cat releases when they relieve themselves.

Sprayed cat urine is unpleasant; some people say it smells like ammonia, while others say it has a musky odor. Like dogs, cats will spray for territorial reasons, especially when there is a territorial dispute, a female cat in heat, or when they are having a conflict with another cat in their home or neighborhood.

Most of the time cats will spray outside, but they can spray indoors. Often, two or more cats will share a certain territory, called "time-sharing, so their spraying will enable the cats to space themselves out, so they don't encounter one another.

As for indoor spraying, that usually occurs when there are conflicts between cats in the same household, or when an indoor cat will see a cat outside, and feels threatened by it.

How can I stop the spraying?

If you're a cat owner and you feel "enough is enough," your best bet is to neuter your male cat. Usually, the cats that spray are intact males, known as toms, but once in a while a female will spray. If you have a tomcat, neutering should curb the spraying. You should see significant improvements within six months of neutering your male cat.

However, a small percentage of male cats who are neutered before 10 months of age will still spray when they reach adulthood. Also, when a household has numerous cats, usually at least one of the cats will spray, even if all of the males are neutered.

If your tomcat is spraying, please do not punish him by scolding or hitting him. This behavior can teach him to fear you and the additional stress can actually increase the spraying. Instead, contact a local veterinarian for advice.

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