Your cat is a lovable bundle of fur until he backs up to your couch, twitches his tail and sprays it with urine. Before you yell at him, realise that he is only fulfilling a role nature intended; he’s marking his territory or trying to attract a mate. Unfortunately, this behaviour is very undesirable and unsanitary. With a little detective work, you can determine your cat’s spraying triggers and take steps to eliminate them.
Identify the objects your cat targets when he sprays. Male cats will return to two or three objects in a home to spray again and again. These are usually vertical items, such as curtains, a kitchen counter, a table leg, the corner of a wall or the flat edge of a chair. Look for a mottled yellowish pattern, indicating urine spray.
Increase the number of litter boxes in your home. Although there is a difference between a cat urinating and a cat spraying, with less urine in his bladder, he is less likely to spray.
Separate multiple cats in your home. A male cat may begin spraying only when you bring another cat home. In this case, he is spraying out of a sense of competition. The more cats you have, the greater the risk of territorial spraying.
Draw the curtains if your cat sprays after spotting another cat outdoors. Your cat is warning other cats to stay out of his territory, which is a natural reaction in the wild.
De-stress your cat’s home environment. Stress is another trigger for cat spraying. To reduce this stress, maintain a home routine, feeding your cat at the same time each day and keeping his bowls and litter boxes in the same place. For some cats, rearranging the furniture can trigger a spraying episode.
Neuter your cat before he reaches adulthood for the best assurance against spraying. Once an adult male begins spraying, neutering him reduces the likelihood of spraying but he may still repeat learnt and familiar behaviour under stress conditions.
Use a chemical repellent. Specifically made to be offensive to cats, these sprays are safe for most upholstery and wood surfaces. After thoroughly cleaning the area, spray on the repellent and allow it to dry. You can also use a pheromone-based spray to calm a nervous cat. The scent reduces his anxiety and protects your home from spraying.
Avoid yelling at a male cat after he sprays. Part of his behaviour is stress based and creating more anxiety may increase his spraying episodes.