Cleaning up after a cat spray is easy, but really addressing the problem can be tricky.
Cricket was a lively, four-year-old Siamese cat who was always very vocal and happily “chirped” all day long, hence its name, writes Alison Laurie-Chalmers.
The past 18 months had seen several changes in Cricket’s routine. His family had worked from home throughout the lockdown and there was a new addition in the form of a puppy.
Recently, cricket, always very clean, was found splashing urine and sometimes urinating around the house.
When taken for a check-up, he was healthy and his urine sample was normal. I said his behavior was stress related, probably due to recent changes in his routine.
Cats will spray to mark their territory. They usually spray in specific places: busy thoroughfares where people come and go to and from the house. Full length curtains are often used. Also new or different smelling articles, e.g. shopping bags, suitcases, handbags, shoes and coats and articles that warm up and cool down, e.g. radiators.
Cats often mark the same area to fill in previous markings.
Spraying of this type is known as reaction spraying and usually becomes a problem when a cat feels threatened by changes.
However, you need to rule out any underlying medical reason for inadequate urination, so schedule a thorough health check-up. If your vet can’t find a physical reason for spraying, it may be behavioral. It could be something like the introduction of a new cat or dog into the household, or a less obvious trigger like a new cat in the area.
Punishment is not the solution – it will only frighten the cat and ultimately make the problem worse. It is important to remember that this is not a “dirty protest”. While trying to resolve the problem, treat your cat as normal – if she feels unsettled it could lead to more injections.
As soon as you notice the stained area, clean it with a 10 percent solution of organic or enzymatic washing powder and then rinse it off with cold water and allow the area to dry well. Then spray lightly with alcohol with a plant sprayer, scrub gently and allow to evaporate. You may want to try a small area on delicate fabrics first. You can use an enzymatic cleaner sold specifically for removing urine stains and odors from pets. In addition to cleaning, you can also apply a cat-friendly synthetic pheromone spray that will calm your cat.
Spraying cats can be a difficult problem to solve. Cleaning the sprayed area may not solve the problem. Make a note of where and when you spray most of the time. Make sure your cat has enough litter boxes of the right size, in the right place, with the right amount of the right bedding, and in a quiet area. Make sure your cat has a safe escape location around the house, with toys, igloo beds, cardboard boxes, and viewing spots leveled to make them feel safer. You can use a cat-friendly pheromone plug-in, and there are some natural anti-anxiety oral treatments that can provide additional help as well.
If nothing seems to be working, your veterinarian may be able to refer you to a feline behavior therapist.
At some point Cricket felt safe in his own quiet area, his spraying stopped and he was a happy and lively cat again!
* Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a Senior Consultant at Crown Vets in Inverness.
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