Male Cat Spraying

by Michael
(London)

Cat territorial confrontation, copyright Sheila Steele (Creative Commons)

Cat territorial confrontation, copyright Sheila Steele (Creative Commons)

Male cat spraying is a very useful form of communication, both short and long term, for a cat.

There's lots of information on the internet about how to stop cats doing what, in fact, comes naturally to them, namely, spraying.

It is firstly useful to remind ourselves that neutering your cat will reduce spraying. Neutering should be a standard process.

It may also help to remind ourselves that urine spraying is a problem for humans but not for cats. A lot of sites talk about spraying as a problem. We need to understand our cat's behavior and work with it rather than against it.

We don't try and change out girlfriend's behavior and if we do we'll fail and lose her (and vica-versa). We accept the behavior of others provided it is reasonable.

To a cat, urine spraying is more than reasonable, it is an essential and highly useful form of non-vocal communication that we, as humans, can't match.

Of course urine spraying is communication through scent. Cats have great noses and use their sense of smell more than we do.

Spraying on a prominent object will leave a long term form of communication that both tells a cat that another cat is about and when he was about. In other words it provides a record (as good as a written record) of another cat's movements.

We are still not sure as to all the functions of leaving scent through spraying. But here are some:

  • deterring another cat onto his territory
  • enhancing the cat's confidence of being in a particular area
  • urine scent is particular to each cat so provides a marker as to who is around
  • sprayed urine has a different scent to "normal" urine
  • fresh spray sends a "red stop light" signal to keep out or face confrontation
  • old spray scent provides a "green go light" that other cats can enter the area without confrontation
  • female spraying can give indications to a tom cat as to her sexual receptiveness

In addition when feces are left unburied it indicates the cat is not subservient and is boss cat, while burying feces (more normally encountered for humans) indicates that the cat is subservient (to the human carer).

Lets remind ourselves that we need not think of a cat's normal behavior as a problem or bad; just different (and sometimes better) than our behavior and we should try and fit in. For the wild cat spraying is a major part of their lives as part of scent marking in mapping out their home range.

Update: Male cat spraying or any cat spraying is usually triggered by territorial invasion. I took in my mother's three legged cat, Charlie and last night I saw him spray right in front of me onto a chair because a stray cat that I feed (Timmy) was on my bed. Charlie's space was invaded although he has only been with me for about 6 weeks. He is territorial. My girl cat is not bothered.

Spraying is usually triggered when there is a need to put down a marker that this is his/her territory. As mentioned, this is a very effective form of communication for cats as they have a great sense of smell.

The sequence of events is: approach spot, sniff it (maybe rub it with side of face), turn to place backside to object, raise tail, eye pupils dilate (apparently), arch back, tail tremor, spray horizontally, turn and sniff the sprayed area, move off.

More than 10% of adult cats spray regardless of castration etc.

Some animal behavioral "experts" advice giving drugs to stop spraying. One such drug is an anti-depressant called Clomipramine. This must be carefully administered. It has been found to be effective in a proportion of cats but I personally disapprove as it is simply quietening down the cat (removing the excitement that can be a spraying trigger). This then affects the entire character and behavior. Is that wise?

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Male Cat Spraying

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Oct 08, 2011 My 9 years old neutered male cat started to spray me
by: Anonymous

Hi,

My 9 years old cat who never sprayed before, started to spray yesterday. I was watching TV with my husband and he came to the arm of the sofa like he usually do when he want to cuddle. but instead of laying down on my laps, he turned around and sprayed me. I was shocked and get up right a way to change my clothes. I wasn't really concerned yet, but tonight, he did exactly the same things. I have 2 other cats, a male and a female. I buy all of them at the same time and they all grew up together. The cat that started spraying is the "boss" of the other 2, and my cuddle buddy. Nothing as been change in our habits, and I am confused why he would start spraying.. and why the only thing he is spraying is me. I gave him as much cuddle time as before and I am petting him every time he come near me. I didn't touch any other cats/dogs.

Anybody have maybe a solution/answer to why my 9 years old neutered male start spraying me?


Jan 10, 2011 my cat has been marked
by: Anonymous

my male cat has been sprayed by another cat. if this other cat has a disease or is ill, is it possible that my cat (by licking his fur) will become infected or ill??


May 04, 2010 My cat peed on my head!
by: Anonymous

I have three male cats, and two are sprayers, the third is top cat and has never sprayed. The two that sprayed were rescues and I now know why they were given away! My baseboards, furniture and rugs have been ruined and I am at my wits end. I spend most of my time with enzyme cleaners but still can't keep up with them. Tonight was the biggest shocker. I was laying on my couch when one of the spraying males jumped on the arm of the sofa. The next thing I knew I had urine running down my neck and on the back of my head! Okay, now this is where I draw the line....but I can't bring myself to shoot them! Any thoughts?


May 04, 2010 My cat peed on my head!
by: Anonymous

I have three male cats, and two are sprayers, the third is top cat and has never sprayed. The two that sprayed were rescues and I now know why they were given away! My baseboards, furniture and rugs have been ruined and I am at my wits end. I spend most of my time with enzyme cleaners but still can't keep up with them. Tonight was the biggest shocker. I was laying on my couch when one of the spraying males jumped on the arm of the sofa. The next thing I knew I had urine running down my neck and on the back of my head! Okay, now this is where I draw the line....but I can't bring myself to shoot them! Any thoughts?


Dec 18, 2009 Enzyme sprays
by: Michael

Rather than try an alter a cat's behavior to stop spraying I try and prevent the situations where spraying might occur and when it does (extremely rarely) I use one of those enzyme cleaners specifically formulated for cat urine as it is impossible to eliminate it any other way. Never use soap and water. It won't work.


Jun 16, 2009 Video - How to Stop Cat Spraying
by: Michael

Here is a BBC video (with an advert at the beginning, beware) about how to stop cat spraying:


Jan 20, 2009 Not quite spraying
by: Anonymous

I am not sure but cats like to leave scent on our furniture and ourselves (brushing against us for example). What you are describing seems to be a form of this. I makes him feel more comfortable. I don't get the impression that he is stressed but he may be a bit for some reason or another. He may be a nervous boy. You might try this product and see what happens. It is for aggression. Your cat is not aggressive but the same underlying condition may be present, stress.

Aggression Formula by PetAlive - Natural Remedy for Stressed and Aggressive Pets

I am not a vet. This product may not be available in the UK. If it helps it would indicate that stress is the underlying source of the problem.


Jan 20, 2009 not quite spraying
by: Anonymous

Hi All

My 7 year old neutered male cat has started to leave a musk scent on me and bedding so its not quite spraying, I wonder why this is and if this will ever stop - he is very healthy. He sometimes 'flicks' his tail with no spray appearing but later when he jumps up into my lap he is quite 'smelly'.....this is no doubt frustrating for me and him as our cuddles are now non exsistent. please can someone advise.


Dec 16, 2008 Stopping male cat spraying
by: Anonymous

I personally have never suffered from the difficulties of dealing with male cat spraying. Nor, for that matter, female cat spraying.

The experts say spaying a female cat and neutering a male cat will help a lot to reduce spraying. That must be the first automatic thing to do, unless one is a breeder and want male stud cats. But male studs are usually kept outside in cages/enclosures for the very reason that their behavior makes them difficult for a human to live with (i.e. the spraying being a major element).

That said a male cat will spray more when stressed. I am not an expert, but a relaxed cat, comfortable with his surroundings is much less likely to spray. We should check out what we are doing when we deal with this. Are there other cats around, intruding, for example? Are we away a lot? These sorts of things can cause stresses in a cat.

I guess, that if we are doing everything correctly and our male cat still sprays there may be psychological issues (
for the cat). This would mean seeing a vet. We should be cautious though as there will be natural variation between cats.

Do cats spray less with age? I am not sure. But commonsense tells me, yes. Middle age for a cat (a decent and healthy moggie) is about 8 years of age so I'd have thought there would be less spraying at and beyond that age but would welcome input and advice from an "expert".


Dec 15, 2008 male cats sprayinng
by: Anonymous

Can you please tell me how long does it take for my cats to stop spraying



Comments

Male Cat Spraying — 1 Comment

  1. My dominant, whiny, over affectionate Tonkinese has been spraying downstairs, I think this might be because he feels threatened by other cats, he particularly does it on the back of the sofa by the lounge window, but has also been doing it on boxes of my books (arghh!!), on the lounge door, against the stereo in the lounge and on the kitchen cupboards. The lounge seems to be the main target. He doesn’t appear afraid of the neighbourhood cats even though he has been bitten, and has been known to go up to them and even play with them. He seems to do it if I have been outside and left him and when I come back in he does it. I suspect over attachment and have now been trying seperation therapy, ie shutting him out of the bedroom all night or out of the lounge when I am watching TV, to try and toughen him up a bit. Some websites appear to suggest this as some sort of psychological therapy. I have tried Feliway and valerian compound and I dont want to put him on drugs. Right now as I type he is stressing out meowing, knocking things over and attention seeking. I’ve just shut him out of the room again. Am I doing the right thing. (PS I have spoken to the vet about cystitis, crystals, URIs and although she thinks this is unlikely I am taking a sample in tomorrow)

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