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.