Neutered male cats may continue to spray and urine mark indoors and outdoors. While many cats stop spraying after they are neutered, those that continue to spray are likely reacting to environmental stress or a health problem. This behaviour can be resolved with a comprehensive approach that addresses physical health, behavioural health and the cat's environment.
Stress is the most common cause of spraying in neutered male cats. Most cats do not react well to change and may revert to urine marking behaviours when a major change creates stress. This is frequently seen when a cat moves house with its family. Even something as simple as rearranging the furniture can trigger spraying in a cat who is easily stressed. Other possible causes of stress include a new family member, a new pet, visitors, fighting with other cats or even a stray cat marking areas near the resident cat's home.
Spraying can also be a reaction to a health problem. Cats that suddenly begin spraying should see a veterinarian and be screened for health problems that could contribute to spraying. A bladder infection, urinary tract infection (cystitis) or other diseases of the urinary system may cause a neutered male cat to spray. If a health problem is identified, it must be treated immediately.
Cats battling for dominance in their household may spray to mark territory. Neutered male cats may also spray if they can see another cat through a window, even if the resident cat isn't allowed to go outdoors. If spraying starts around the time a new cat is added to the family, a dominant cat dies or two cats begin fighting frequently, dominance struggles are likely to blame for the spraying.
Any neutered male cat who sprays should be checked by a veterinarian to identify or eliminate a health problem causing the spraying. Once any health problems have been corrected, behaviour modification should address other causes of spraying. A product called Feliway, which contains a calming pheromone, can help reduce stress-related spraying. Restricting the cat's view of the outdoors may help. Disruptions to the cat's daily routine should be avoided. If dominance battles are occurring in the household, a professional animal behaviourist should evaluate the situation and create a plan to end the cat fights. All existing urine stains must be completely cleaned away with an enzyme cleaner to stop cats from spraying in the same area. White vinegar works well for mild stains. Others may require more intensive cleaning. To keep cats away from a favourite spraying area, there are various motion detecting devices that ward off cats with loud noises or quick puffs of air.
If a cat has a history of spraying, ongoing management means keeping his stress level as low as possible. Make any changes in the cat's routine gradual. Consider avoiding acquiring other pets until the cat with a tendency to spray has passed on. If a major change is unavoidable, use Feliway to keep the cat calm until he has adjusted to his new routine.