Cats make great indoor pets, but their more wild behaviors are sometimes made visible in domestic settings. Many cat owners become frustrated with their cats’ “marking” behaviors, or urinating outside of the litter box. Thankfully, spraying is an avoidable nuisance.
Why Do Cats Mark?
Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to communicate with one another. In face-to-face interactions, cats will smell one another to assert dominance and/or compatibility. However, cats cannot ensure that they will always be around to sniff out potential threats. Marking often serves as a sort of boundary-keeping around beloved surfaces. That way, other cats or animals will steer clear of the marked territory until your cat can properly assess them.
Of course, there are exceptions to this case. Some cats may mark or spray due to medical issues including urinary tract infections or blockages. These conditions (particularly blockages) are both very serious and require immediate medical attention. If your cat is urinating right in front of you or licking their genitals frequently, they may be trying to get your attention. They may completely avoid the litter box and instead rely on marking to empty their bladder. Call your vet immediately if you suspect urinary tract complications, as these can be fatal.
What is Spraying?
Spraying is the act of urine marking on vertical surfaces such as drapes, walls, or anything that is not directly beneath your cat. While unneutered male cats are the most likely to spray, any cat has the ability to spray their urine. Spraying is not discernible from marking except for its location. However, because it is largely behavioral, cats with medical complications are not likely to spray.
How Can I Prevent Marking?
To prevent marking, many pet owners turn to negative reinforcement such as shouting at their cat. However, this does not help and in many cases worsens the behavior. Cats who feel threatened or stressed are more likely to attempt to establish territory.
If your cat marks, clean the affected area thoroughly using a cleaner designed for pet odor. Then, consider why your cat might be marking their territory. Is there another cat, either in the home or through the window? Have their circumstances suddenly changed or become more stressful? Getting to the root of the problem will help to establish long-term solutions. Potential solutions might include adding more litter boxes to the home or changing their locations. Get creative; your home should feel safe and comfortable to both you and your cat.
Claws N Paws owns and operates a full-service grooming salon for dogs and cats in Fountain Valley, California. Right next door, we offer cats-only boarding in our designated facility. Claws N Paws is currently open, with specialized safety precautions in place to protect our clients and employees from the current pandemic. For more information, visit our blog on reopening. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 714-962-1005.