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The Cat Spray Woes!

Oh my, you've been there and done that haven't you? Especially if you happen to own a cat (pardon me - if they own you)! Spraying in the house is the number one behavior that is guaranteed to drive you right up the wall and right around the bend. It makes you just want to tear your hair out in frustration. There MUST be a way to stop this!

The Whys!

First let's look at why cats spray in the house in the first place. You probably know they're marking their territory, but honestly they aren't doing it just to ruin your day. They aren't hiding what they do and they haven't spent their leisure hours plotting to upset you. This kind of behavior is instinctual and genetically programmed into your Cat. They spray because it's their way of telling other cat that this spot is theirs. Call it a form of staking claim to ownership - ownership of your house. While they mean no harm and are operating innocently, this just can't happen inside, and you're getting mighty tired of Fluffy backing up to the new couch and letting fly.

Don't despair, there is a way to make this stop and it usually starts by making a few adjustments in your house.

Spraying or Urinating?

You might not care too much right now whether your Cat is spraying or urinating as all you know is you want it to stop. Well, you need to know if they are simply taking a pee or are really marking their territory. So take a look and see what is happening. If they're just taking a pee, they will be doing that in the usual manner, butt down in the litter box (or outside in a hole they dug for the same purpose).

If they're marking their space, they literally turn their backside to the object, back up, twitch the tail and take aim at a spot just about where another cat's nose would be if one were standing there. Cat urine contains pheromones (chemical substances) that give off certain messages. So it's either spraying or sending a clear "I'm ready to mate," signal. And, if you're wondering if all cats spray, the answer is yes they do, although it is more common in un-neutered males. As for intact females, they usually don't spray, but there have been instances where they leave a marker for a tom letting him know they are in heat.

This kind of behavior rarely happens if the kitten was fixed at about six months of age. Having said that though, being spayed/neutered is no guarantee that spraying won't happen later in life, as it is usually stress related. Stress can be due to a move, a new person in the house or a new animal added to the mix. And yes, males are the heaviest sprayers. If your cat is urinating on the floor, carpet, bedding, clothing lying about, this is not spraying. This is peeing where they should not pee, or inappropriate elimination. There are a couple of reasons why this may be happening, and the first one may be due to a bladder or urinary tract infection because of crystals that have formed in their urine. If they make pained sounds while doing this, head for the vet to get them checked out.

If you don't think that's the problem, then you have a cat that is generally speaking "peed off" about something. This could also be because of several things such as rivalry for the affections of another cat or they totally have a hissy fit over another cat being in their space. Just because you may have a multi-cat house does not mean all cats get along together. They all have their own individual personalities.

The other problem could be litter box related. Cats are really fussy about having a clean box in a private place to do their business. They also like to have a spare box around somewhere in case the main one is too busy or doesn't smell like they want to use it. Litter boxes need to be cleaned on a regular basis and totally emptied at least once a week. This is sort of like a numbers game. If you have one cat, one box should suffice. Two cats, three boxes will work. Eight cats? Ideally four boxes, but you could squeak by with three that were cleaned religiously. Chances are though if the boxes are busy one of your brood will take exception to the toilet facilities and find an alternative spot (one you WON'T like). By the way, have you changed your brand of litter lately? Or moved the box? Felines are notoriously fussy about things being where they expect them to be and as they like them. If you have changed the brand of litter you use or moved the box, try putting things back the way they were and see what happens. It's a little like having a two-year old pitch a fit over having to eat peas isn't it?

How to Stop Spraying

The first thing you need to do is figure out if there is any kind of a pattern to your cat's spraying behavior. In other words, where is the cat spraying? In the same location - say right by the back screen door? Near patio doors that lead outside? This may mean there's been a visitor who left their own calling card and your feline is laying down a challenge and saying (spraying) "Bug off, this is my place". The easiest solution to something like this is to try and block access to the door/window and see if that makes any difference.

There are commercial sprays on the market that claim they will stop cats from spraying and really, all you can do is give them a try. Some of them may be effective and some of them may just encourage the behavior. But, before you try something like this, figure out why your Maine Coon Cat is spraying where they are spraying.

Castration is usually touted as the best route to stop this behavior, but as we have already read, it's not a hundred percent guarantee that the habit won't develop later in life. If you neuter after spraying has started, it usually acts to reduce the frequency. Here's a few statistics you might find interesting. It was apparently done on older cats and it said roughly 87 percent of all males stopped spraying after castration, 78 percent stopped right away, 9 percent stopped within a few months and 13 percent kept right on spraying. Well despite the numbers, castration/neutering has good odds going for it.

Another option, and one that many cat owners would rather not do, is put your cat on anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs) such as Clomicalm and Valium. Although they are used to treat spraying, many who have tried this route say their cats became zombies while on these drugs. If that isn't something you want to consider for your feline, then you may want to try the pheromone approach.

Using herbal therapies may be something else to contemplate as well. For instance one of the best-known remedies to calm pets is Rescue Remedy used approximately 2 to 3 times a day. It won't stop the spraying, but it may calm your cat and as a result reduce or stop the spraying.

Using pheromones is a natural approach rather than chemical. Feliway is a product you might be interested in trying. By all indications, it seems to work rather well by diffusing a placating pheromone into the air that conveys a sense of well being and safety to your Cat. You could also try orange or lemon oil on cotton balls, either placed in the areas they spray or wiped in those areas. Cats aren't particularly fond of either smell.

Another approach is something called SSSCAT that combines a motion detector and an aerosol can that spits out a harmless spray. The theory is that if this is repeated often enough it will keep you cat away from where they are spraying.

Or you might take a fancy to Scatmat that releases a harmless static pulse when your cat touches it. This works when your pet walks across the mat and small pulses of electricity move through wires in the vinyl emitting a small "zap". Your cat (or dog) will learn quickly to stay away from those areas.

If your cat always seems to let loose in one or two areas, change what that area is used for. This may divert his attention and the spraying will cease. For instance if you put food, bedding or a scratching post in the spots where your cat sprays, this may make them stop. Cats rarely spray in their sleeping, eating or scratching areas. There is the possibility they may move along to another spot, but once again, try diversion tactics.

And if all else fails, see if you can find "stud pants" or even a re-useable baby swim nappy and modify it to fit over the tail. Both these alternatives will allow the urine to pool in them.

How to Clean the Mess

Clean the areas with alcohol. Do not use bleach because bleach has ammonia in it and that is the primary component of urine and will only encourage them to re-offend. Or you can use laundry detergent with enzymes. Then use 50% white vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle and spray the area.

For carpets use baking soda, white vinegar (the acid neutralizes the ammonia in cat pee), and warm water. Here's how this one works. Use paper towels to get as much urine as you can up from the carpet. Keep doing that until you hardly get any moisture up. Wet the area with 50/50 white vinegar/warm water- enough to get down to the carpet backing. Sprinkle with baking soda and let it foam. Now let it dry to a hard surface. Then vacuum up the spot.

I hope you have enjoyed this informative article about dealing with spraying cats, please reprint it on your website or in your ezine. This resource box must be included with the article. For more articles and a free cat ebook please visit my blog at

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