So a new cat has recently moved into the neighborhood and your kitty seems to be greeting the newcomer in his own way. He has been seen standing near the front door, with his tail straight up in the air while sending a stream of smelly urine down the wall. He is exhibiting a very common feline behavior known as spraying. It can occur in any age, breed or gender and is more common with males than in females.
What Is It?
Spraying is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface with their tail erect and squirts urine. Their tail usually quivers while they are spraying. This comes from an instinctive urge to stake their claim by leaving their scent. While most cats mark their territory through rubbing or scratching, spraying can also arise. This is not regular urinating. Regular urinating is when a cat squats to pee on the floor or other horizontal surfaces.
Why Do Cats Spray?
Spraying can be brought on by the arrival of a new person, pet or even a new piece of furniture. Another possibility is too many cats in the household or the addition of a new cat. Sometimes the stressor is right outside your window in the form of an another cat. Cats who are allowed outdoors may spray to let other neighborhood cats know whose territory they are in. Inappropriate urination also can be caused by disruption of your cat’s daily routine. It is not entirely clear why cats spray but the behavior is usually accompanied by some sort of stress.
You should also consider the possibility that there may be a physical cause for this negative behavior. If your cat is spraying, begin by taking him or her to the vet to rule out any medical issues. The following are some possibilities:
- Liver disease
- Urinary tract, kidney or bladder stones
- Excessive glucose in the urine
- Old age
- Feline leukemia virus
- Recent medical treatment
- Urinary tract infection
How To Stop it!
Your cat’s litter box might be the source of the spraying behavior. The placement, cleanliness, type of litter and other things can cause your cat to prefer areas other than the litter box. After ruling out medical issues, addressing any harassment from other cats, keeping the litter box clean you may consider speaking to your vet about an anti-anxiety medication. It also is important to thoroughly scrub any area where the cat has urinated, cleaning it with enzymatic deodorizers to remove all traces of the odor, which your cat may find appealing. You can use a solution of water and vinegar then follow up with a spray from a product like Ceva, an animal health urine spray that removes urine stains and odors.
If you have an unneutered adult cat, get them fixed as soon as possible. Neutering solves most spraying issues, even if your cat has been doing it for a while. However, the longer you wait, the bigger the risk that spraying behavior will be instilled. The easiest solution is getting your cat neutered or spayed by five months of age, before problem can arise.