By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
If you have cats, especially if you have more than one, chances are that sometime within your lifetime you’ll have to deal with urine-spraying outside the box. Here are some facts you should know:
- Over 80% of cats that spray urine can be treated successfully.
- 90% of intact males spray, so if you have an intact male and he’s spraying, the solution is to neuter him.
- 10% of neutered or spayed cats spray during sometime of their life.
- Cats normally spray to identify their territory, but they also spray to just identify that they were in a specific location
- Stress can cause spraying. Look for possibly stressful events or situations such as—spats with other cats, new cats in the neighborhood, or a change in the owner’s schedule when the household cat has an anxious personality.
- If outdoor cats are the problem, block visual and olfactory access—try the scarecrow outside, block the windows, or get a cat fence to keep cats out.
- If other household cats are the problem, provide separate food, litter boxes and household areas for them so they don’t have to pass each other and can easily escape from each other’s sight (read Feuding Felines to go over more about what you can do).
- Clean the urine spray well with an enzymatic cleaner. Check for urine spray on a daily basis using an ultraviolet light.
- Keep the litter box sparkling clean. Sometimes just a slightly messy litter box in a stressed cat can throw him over the edge causing him to spray.
- Get help from a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist. If the issue is due to anxiety, then temporary use of behavioral drugs may be useful.
- Cats who continue to spray should have a medical workup since any medical disorder affecting the urinary tract or causing agitation or pain can cause spraying in cats. This should be done prior to starting behavioral drugs.
For more information read Urine-Spraying Cats: How To Deal With Kitty ‘Graffiti’ and Feuding Felines. And stay tuned for my next blog on cats who poop outside the litter box.