Did you know that almost 50% of complaints by cat owners are associated with house soiling? Compared to dogs, cats are pretty docile animals…practically with no unwanted habits except for house soiling. Unlike dogs cats do not adapt well to training. Thus a cat that was not been trained to use the litter box would certainly be a problem. Cats that have been litter trained can still be a concern. The pet may be using the litter box but the pungent smell of cat urine may still permeate the inside of the house. Cats are inclined to spray and this habit is not a toilet training concern. Spraying is a territorial, social and sexual behaviourism of cats. Female cats are known to spray too but this behaviour is more common in male cats given their inclination to manifest their manliness. Spraying is a testosterone-driven habit hence it’s safe to say that all male cats spray. Some manifest this behaviour more often than others, others rarely do so but all male cats spray because it is natural and normal for these animals to manifest this social, sexual and territorial behaviour.
A male cat manifests spraying behaviour by backing to a vertical surface. It holds its tail erect and squirts a urine-based liquid to a spot about two feet off the ground. I hope you’re not eating your lunch reading this. After spraying, the cat wiggles his tail, does some kneading, then ambles away with a satisfied expression on its face. So what are the reasons why male cats spray?
After reaching sexual maturity, hormonal changes will make a male cat start spraying. One of the main reasons for cat’s spraying is to mark territory. Cats, especially males are very territorial animals. When cats spray, the urine mixed with pheromones allows these animals to communicate with other cats. The cat would purposely aim the spray about two feet from the ground…a spot that other cats would not fail to smell as they pass by. The cat’s spray is generally used to mark the boundaries of the territory but it can also be a way for the cat to tell other cats that all is not well. Spraying is more common in a household with more than one cat as the pets would have the inclination to reinforce its claim on the turf. Spraying can also be triggered by insecurity. The pet may think that it is neglected if the attention of the family is given to a new pet or a new baby. So always remember to give affection to your cat in the presence of a new baby or pet – indicating that this new addition is positive thing in the cat’s life not a threat. A feeling of insecurity will trigger spraying. Another reason why cats spray is to find a potential mate. The pheromones in the cat’s urine let other cats know of its availability.
Some cat owners brag about a non-spraying pet. As mentioned, all male cats spray but it is possible that the owner has not witnessed the pet spraying. This commonly happens if the cat is an outdoor pet. Another reason why a cat may not spray is neutering. Neutering, especially when done before the cat reaches sexual maturity will minimize the male cat’s inclination to spray. As hormonal activity that triggers spraying is eliminated, the male cat would have no more reason to spray. Cats though have different personalities. In some cats, neutering can effectively stop spraying. In other cats, this kind of solution could have no effect at all. Castrating the cat would not be an effective solution to spraying especially if the cat already has the spraying habit. In a multi-cat household, the most common reason why a cat would spray is stress. Spraying can be minimized by reducing the stress of the cat as much as possible. Play sessions are effective stress relief. Anti stress medications can be administered as well but a vet consult is necessary to prevent side effects caused by contraindications.
Purring is a trademark of cats. Owners of domestic cats are exposed to the purring trait of the pet. Big cats Lions and Tigers are known to purr as well. Purring appears to be an innate behaviour as kittens will be heard purring a few hours after being born. The soft purring sound will be heard and the vibration in the cat’s body that is not unlike an idling diesel engine will be felt by the owner whenever the pet is cuddled. This experience gives the owner a wonderful feeling. Purring after all is usually a manifestation of the cat’s happiness and contentment. Because the cat’s purring is believed to have healing properties, people would intentionally cuddle the pet to hear its soft purring. All domestic cats have the ability to purr. Unfortunately, not all cat owners have the opportunity to hear their pets purring as some individuals are incapable of producing the purring sound due to health reasons. Cats with laryngeal paralysis for example cannot purr.
Cats do not have a different vocal anatomical feature. Yet other animals cannot make the purring sound cats make. Other felids can make sounds that resemble purring. Lions, tigers, jaguars are members of the cat family…they have the same anatomical features as domestic cats. Large cats like lions and tigers roar but they cannot purr like domestic cats. Indeed domestic cats are pretty special animals.
The purring of cats has been a topic of debate among scientists. Despite studies conducted, the definite reasons why and how cats purr is yet to be discovered. It is believed that the purring sound is created when blood rushes to the large vein in the heart. Another more popular and more accepted school of thought is that purring is produced by the vibration of the vocal chords. When cats breathe, the air that passes in and out of the lungs causes the vocal chords to vibrate. This theory was supported by the fact that cats with laryngeal paralysis cannot purr. Other sounds like meowing and screaming are made at the end of every breath. Cats have the amazing ability to purr even while breathing. Cats also have the ability to switch on and to switch off the purring sound. It seems that cats purr only when they want to.
Purring is always associated with the contentment of the cat. It is certainly satisfying to know that the efforts exerted in caring for the cat makes the pet happy and contented. As mentioned, laryngeal paralysis will prevent a cat from purring. This is a rather unfortunate condition for a cat owner. Not only because the owner will not be exposed to the pet’s expression of pleasure but also because she/he will not benefit from the healing properties of the cat’s purring, assuming they exist. Cats are now used as therapy animals because of this belief in purring as having healing properties. The purring sound is relaxing and the vibration is believed to promote healing changes in the body. It is reported that purring provides pain relief for owners suffering from migraine and arthritis and other chronic pains. Evidently purring creates frequencies that are ideal in promoting bone growth. Cats are not very energetic animals. Cats spend long hours lying down. The purring serves as a low energy mechanism that allows these animals to stimulate muscle and bone development without expending a lot of energies.
Purring is a means of communication that allows cats to make the owners aware of their happiness or pain. Cat owners have discovered that by cuddling a purring cat, the soothing purring sound would drive stress and pain away. Squeeze a cat today. (Courtesy Carey’sCats)
Cats are known to love catnips. This herb that is a member of the mint family is given as a treat to cats. Knowing the unaccountable effects of this plant to cats, pet owners are now providing cats with catnip-filled toys. Cats love to sniff, to nibble and to roll on catnip leaves and catnip plants. It appears that this herb has euphoric effects on cats. Does this mean that all cats like catnips? No. Studies on cat behaviour have proven that about 50% of cats ignore catnips. Apparently, in some cats the herb has no effect at all.
People, especially cat owners are aware of the effects of catnips on their pets. Catnip is a plant that belongs to the mint family. The scientific name of this herb is Nepeta Cataria. The plant has heart shaped leaves. Colours of flowers range from white, pink and white with purple dots. The variety with solid white flowers is most favoured by cats. Why do cat go gaga over this weed-like herb? Catnip has Nepetalactone, a chemical that creates a psychosexual reaction in cats. This substance’s effects are the same as the effects pheromones have on cats. Cats have special receptors in their olfactory system. Studies have proven that the cat’s response to the substance starts when the catnip is smelled. When catnip is found, the cat is seen nibbling and sniffing the plant, the leaves and the flowers. The chemical enters the cat’s nose and passes through the Jacobson’s organs that are connected to the hypothalamus. One of the functions of the hypothalamus is to act as a switchboard that will trigger different kinds of behaviours. Cats sniff the catnip, roll on it rubbing the plant against their bodies. Finally, the cat is seen munching on the catnip plant. The cat’s high though is produced when Nepetalactone is released when the catnip is bruised. This is probably the reason why cats roll on the plant. The cat then shows uncharacteristic behaviour like rolling and leaping. The cat that appears to be enjoying itself may even foam at the mouth and the drawn back lips look as if the cat is grinning. The cat may meow and pur more than usual. Catnip can have alternative effects on cats as some individuals manifest aggressive behaviour. In short sniffing catnip is believed to stimulates the cat. The euphoric behaviour lasts for five to ten minutes. After rolling and rubbing the body on the plant, the cat does a lot of sniffing. Afterwards, the cat eats the catnip. When eaten, catnip becomes a sedative thus after ingesting catnip, the cat goes back to its normal self. The effect of catnip is not unlike the effects of marijuana. One good thing about this plant is that it has no side effects and the cats don’t get addicted. These animals have the ability to self-regulate.
Catnip is a good training tool. Catnips are rubbed on scratching post to entice the cat to scratch the post instead of the furniture. Catnips are given to calm a pet that is about to go on a long car ride. Unfortunately, catnips don’t affect all cats. Kittens show an aversion to this herb. Aging cats don’t show any reaction to catnips as well. It is believed that the cat’s response to catnips is inherited. Cats are affected by catnips because of an inherited autosomal gene. Cats that are not affected by catnips do not have the genes that will produce a response to the herb.