Monday, February 27, 2017

Why do cats spray?


Why do cats spray and what is spraying?

Mandy Cooper

Spraying is when a cat leaves a small amount of it's wee on a surface. Spraying isn't always noticed with your eyes. Most of the time, the spots are too small to even notice. The problem lies within the smell. It's a common misunderstanding that female cats aren't capable of spraying but this isn't the case. Times they might spray is if they are in heat to signal to nearby males. Spraying often begins in cats when they are about 5 to 6 months old and cat be a habit that they can carry with them for life if it isn't appropriately addressed.

Both male and female cats can spray to try and protect their humans or their home. Cats are clean by nature and very fastidious about their toilet needs. If a cat starts spraying, it's definitely a cause for concern. Spraying is no different from rubbing themselves on you or the furniture. They are making you and the environment feel safer.

Cats don't need technical devices to communicate. In addition to body language, vocalizing, scratching and rubbing, they use their urine to show their intentions and emotions. It can be tricky to tell the difference between peeing and spraying because some cats stand instead of squat while peeing. The smell and amount of urine indicates whether it's them peeing or spraying. Spray is highly pungent because it contains pheromones.
One thing to note is that less urine is produced when cats spray than when they wee. When male cats spray, it tells potential girlfriends that they are ready and available.
When female cats spray, chemicals in their urine indicate where they are in their cycle.

Most cat lovers are aware that UN-neutered male cats spray on walls, furniture and anywhere else to mark their territory so why do cats spray? It's not about dominance or territory, it's more likely to be because of an underlying medical condition, litter box issues or anxiety. Possible medical reasons could include cystitis  or sterile cystitis ( a bladder infection not caused by infection). In order to understand the behaviour of spraying and stop it, it's suggested that you think like a cat.

 Cats are control freaks and like to feel in charge. If a cat is stressed or anxious, they could spray to try and feel more secure. Spraying makes cats feel more content although it's a tricky behaviour for us humans. It's suggested that cats are very good at hiding things and there is commonly a feeling of anxiety or stress leading to spraying. Sometimes the stressor is outside the cat's window. This can lead to them spraying near doors or windows. Spraying can also be caused by disruption of a cat's daily routine, for example, kitty might be anxious that you aren't there (if you work or go away), so they pee on something you always use like your bed or your favourite chair. It's also suggested that the state of your cat's litter box could make them want to wee elsewhere.

Many people misunderstand the reasons behind spraying behaviour and some cats are sadly returned to shelters or giving away. People understandably label the behaviour as territorial but this isn't the only reason cats spray. When a cat sprays on a horizontal surface, there is usually a medical cause or the little box may be unappealing. If a cat won't use the litter box, they may not feel safe. Spraying should be viewed as a cat telling you something and should not be viewed as a bad or spiteful behaviour. There is always a reason why a cat behaves in a certain way.

 Some common reasons for spraying in cats

    Cats like to create a familiar scent in his/her territory
    Spraying family members things is a way of self soothing by mixing scents
    Spraying familiar things as a way of creating a bond
    Cats my spray if a carers routine or behaviour has changed
    Cats may spray new things that are brought in to find familiarity
    A cat may spray if they are prevented access to another cat they see as a threat
    They may spray because they are anxious
    They may spray to challenge another cat

Confident cats may spray as a grand display of victory after a confrontation with another cat and a less confident cat my spray as a form of hidden aggression when they want to give a warning without risking a confrontation.

Sprayed urine also gives an indication of a cats age, sex and sexual availability. Not all cats spray and if you slowly ease your cat through changes like an introduction to new cats or new environments, you'll greatly reduce the need for your cat to want to spray. It's also suggested that if you allow your cat outside, that may be contributing to the spraying behaviour. Your cat may feel threatened by unfamiliar scents he/she encounters and may be bringing spraying behaviour inside as well.

Neutered or spay cats can enforce a “leader” when there is more than 1 cat and will not usually spray if their dominance is recognised by the other cats. Cats like to have a routine and are more sensitive to changes than most people realise. You might need to reassure your cat that they are loved and that all is well. Some cats can be very nervous, often for no reason, but could be because they were re homed, were feral or have been mistreated. These cats are more likely to spray because they are scared and want to mark their home to feel safe.

Spraying as a way of communicating to you, so listen to your cat and try to find out what they are telling you.


Tomorrow we will have the 2nd part of our article which is about things you can do to help stop your cat from spraying.
Remember as stated at the beginning of the article always take your cat to your vet if they start doing anything out of the ordinary to rule out any medical problems.  

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