Why Your Cat Sprays And What You Can Do About It

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
It’s a hard habit to break, but there are things you can do about it

Gah! What’s that smell? If you’ve caught a whiff of the distinct scent of cat spray, you never forget it. Cats spray to mark its territory, leaving behind an unpleasant odor. A form of communication with other cats, cat spray consists of urine that is nose-level to other cats, letting them know about claims to territory, status updates (it’s social media for cats!), sexual availability or stress and frustration. They can happen anywhere – even on furniture, drapes and walls inside your house.

Most of the time, cat spraying is a signal to other cats. But when a cat is stressed or frustrated, it’s meant for you. You can tell who the spray is meant for by where it is located. If the cat spray is near doors or windows, it’s most likely to let other cats know whose territory it is. But if it’s on your bed, furniture or something that you love (like your slippers), chances are you cat is telling you something.

Cat spraying is a normal and natural response, which makes it a hard habit to break. Most of the time, cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered and are in heat will be the main culprits of spraying. If you sterilize your cat, spraying usually stops after two weeks (upon competition of surgery). This is the easiest fix to a cat spraying problem in cases of an unfixed cat.

If your cat is already fixed and the problem continues, it’s time to change tactics. Never ignore the problem. This will give the issue time to ingrain itself into your kitty’s brain as being okay to do in your home.

If you don’t know the cause of why your cat is spraying, you need to remove access from the places it has been marking. This could mean building a bigger fence, uncluttering your home, setting up motion detectors, installing shades or a room divider. If this fails, it may be medical and could indicate a serious underlining medical issue. You can also use treats as a positive reinforcement tactic, especially if you notice that certain events seem to set it off.

For areas in your home that have already been marked, you’ll have to use some elbow grease and odor neutralizer to get rid of the smell. If you don’t get rid of it, your cat may come back to re-mark the spot. You can also try a wintergreen or citrus-scented room deodorizer to keep your cat away from the spot.

If the problem persists, you should take your cat to a vet for drug therapy. There are many available, but research the side effects for each medication. Some cats will only need to take drugs for a short amount of time, while others need to stay on it for life.

There is hope to ending your cat’s spraying habit. Be sure to consult a vet or trainer if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to treat the issue – these are trained professionals who can offer valuable advice.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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