Urine Marking: Why Cats Spray

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December 8, 2010
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Urine marking is something we normally think only male cats do who are not neutered but that’s not entirely true. While the occurrence is stronger from intact tomcats to mark, all cats will mark when they are feeling stressed. It’s a way of trying to establish their territory and communicate with other animals in their environment. Some cats will scratch and leave visual markings along with scent, while others will rub objects with their face, and some will mark by spraying urine on an object. Marking reassures cats that their territory will not be violated.

In a house, this can be extremely damaging and frustrating to an owner. Scratching can be curbed to appropriate objects like a scratching post and rubbing their cheek on things is mostly harmless unless they knock an object over. To try and stop your cat from urine marking, you need to first think about what has changed in your house. Most indoor cats will start marking if there’s something that is emotionally upsetting them.

Your cat might be upset over another cat walking through the backyard or fighting for territory with a fellow neighborhood cat. If your cat is indoors only, there might be something in the house that changed that is causing them to feel stressed such as moving to a new place or a new baby. Cats spray as a way to deal with anxiety and stress.

If you have recently moved or made some major changes to your household, try creating a safe space for your cat such as moving the food and water to your bedroom or another quiet room where you spend time. You can also try to provide more attention, play, and exercise to see if your cat becomes more content and less stressed about the changes. Let your cat explore the new change with supervision and see if through time and lots of TLC your cat slowly begins to stop marking. If trying to reduce the stress doesn’t work, a trip to the vet may be necessary to rule out any health issues.

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