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Cats Leaving Their Mark

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“If you’ve ever lived with a cat who sprays, you certainly remember the distinct odor it produces. Oftentimes, unaltered males are the culprits; they use their spraying ‘talent’ to mark their territory, thus telling all felines in surrounding areas that this is THEIR kingdom!”

“If you’ve ever lived with a cat who sprays, you certainly remember the distinct odor it produces. Oftentimes, unaltered males are the culprits; they use their spraying ‘talent’ to mark their territory, thus telling all felines in surrounding areas that this is THEIR kingdom!”
-- Sandra L. Toney, The Daily Cat

Yes, if your tomcat isn’t neutered he will certainly leave his mark in his environment (female cats as well as neutered felines can also spray). This is very frustrating for cat owners who find that the “territory” just happens to be their sofa, drapes, or wall. But before you punish your cat, it is best to understand why he shows this behavior and look for ways to remove the triggers of his marking/spraying.

Cats spray for several reasons. If he un-neutered he will continue to spray to mark his territory and attract females. However, there are other reasons for spraying, especially if your cat is neutered or female. They can mark, motivated by anxiety from new pets, other cats entering his/her territory, competition with another cat, a dirty litter box or a new home environment. If you find out why your cat continues to spray you can successfully treat him and remove the things that make him feel insecure in your home, creating a peaceful environment both for you as the owner and for your feline friend.

What To Look For

  • If your cat is “spraying” an area he will stand with his tail straight up or out and spray the urine on a vertical surface (note: this is not the same thing as urinating outside the litter box
  • Watch to see if your cat returns to the place he marked before and begins to sniff the spot. This is usually a sign that he still smells his urine and could mark again.
  • Look for potential triggers such as competition with other pets or animals, stress in the home, a dirty or uncomfortable litter box, etc.
  • Look for any problem areas that need to be thoroughly cleaned with products that will remove the cat odor completely.

Healthy Tips

  • Neuter your tomcat to combat his marking behavior (before 6 months is best since that is around the time he reaches sexual maturity).
  • If hormones are not the cause of your cats’ spraying, watch his behavior closely to find the reasons.
  • Do not hit, yell or squirt your cat with water for marking. Instead of stopping his behavior, he may become afraid of you and even spray more often.
  • If your cat is spraying because other cats are coming around you can either get rid of the other cats or make sure your cat can’t see, hear or smell them.
  • For indoor cats that see other cats outside you can cover your windows or deny access to the specific area where he/she usually sees the other felines.
  • If outdoor cats are marking areas around your house, try dousing the areas with vinegar water to mask the odor.
  • If you have more than one indoor cat, marking could be the result of a competitive situation. Provide several litter boxes and separate water and food dishes in different areas.
  • Make favored marking areas less easily accessible for your cat and/or change the context of those places (place his food and water or toys in that area to inhibit the spraying).
  • If he starts sniffing an area that was previously marked, make a loud noise to distract him and let him know it is not acceptable.
  • To clean soiled areas use a stain/odor remover with enzymes specifically for pet odors.
  • Apply white vinegar or a citrus spray to the previously soiled spot several times a day after the area has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Spend about 10 minutes at a certain time each day to play with and pet your cat. He will quickly learn to expect the attention which will ease any anxiety he may have experienced.
  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to examine your cat for the possible reasons for its behavior.
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I'm living a wonderful life in beautiful upstate NY and enjoying being a part of the Adirondack Mountains with my parrots, Captain, Ringo and Ziggy. I am a mom to 3 adult children and a grandmother to 4. It's my wish to you that through my blog that you, your family and friends will find the information on this site beneficial and life enhancing. I hope you will "like, share, and post" to help get the information out there so that many will benefit!
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