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Spraying Cat

Updated on August 22, 2009

A spraying cat or cat spraying, refers to the periodic squirting of urine throughout the house, while continuing to use the litter pan for routine elimination. It is most common in the tom cat but can occur in breeding females and neutered cats of either sex.

Several years ago I had a black and white neutered male cat named Bonomo or BonBon as he was affectionally called who sprayed throughout the house. He always had bursts of nervous energy and constantly wanted outdoor time. Often, I would allow him to release his pent up energy for several hours a day in the backyard. He sometimes would hop the fence and visit the neighbors but would always return One day he just hopped the fence and never returned. Somehow I think that his spraying was a behavioral issue, and a clue to his hyperactivity and eventual dissapearance.

Spraying is an expression of territorial marking and is associated with the rubbing of body oils from the chin or tail onto favorite objects. It mostly occurs when a cat feels his territory is threatened by an intruder. BonBon had five other cats in the household to compete with. Possibly he was threatened by the loss of a favorite corner of the house, to one of them.

Frequently cat spraying is an advertisement that sex is available. It will increase during the mating season and especially during courtship. It could also be brought on by jealousy, insecurity or a break-down in the relationship between a cat and his owner.

Cat Spraying should not be confused with a lapse in toilet training. It usually takes place at ankle height, which distinguishes it from a litter pan problem. The stains and odors are very difficult to remove which makes the problem more troublesome.

In some cases there are treatments for spraying. Toms and Queens who are not being used for breeding should be neutered. The operation is effective in 80 to 90 percent of all cases, but when performed after the cat starts to spray it may take several weeks for it to stop.

The problem can be helped in both sexes by giving a progesterone hormone such as Ovaban or Depo-provera which has a calming effect. However, before administering either of these products you should first check with a veterinarian.

Finally, you should make a strong effort to remove the stains from rugs, furniture and baseboards, so that the cat will not be attracted back to the same spot. You can wash the stains with vinegar or a mild bleach. You can also find products that will leave an objectionable odor to cats through pet stores or veterinarians. Other effective substances are moth balls in cloth bags, orange peels, and rubbing alcohol. Setting his food dish near the spot will usually stop him because cats do not like to spray near their feeding area. An upside-down mouse trap near a favorite spraying area will also be effective.

Your spraying cat problem can be stopped or slowed down by using the methods listed above. Unfortunately, I was never able to understand the psychological aspect to BonBon's spraying before he ran away. It is possible that it could have stopped the spraying and the hyperactivity that resulted in his disappearance.

References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition

Cat Spraying Age


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