My cat got locked outside and now she’s spraying the doors

The title describes unwanted feline behavior and the cat’s owner wants to know how to deal with it. As you can see, their cat became inadvertently locked outside during a rainstorm. The cat flap that she used is one of those which is triggered by a microchip under the skin of the cat’s neck. These devices work quite well but on this occasion the battery had run low and the device failed to open.

Cat started to spray urine when locked out
Cat started to spray urine when locked out. Image: public domain.
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As a consequence, the cat was locked outside for quite a long time in the rain. When the cat flap was activated again because a fresh battery was added to it, the cat passed through but she sprayed urine onto the cat flap, the back door, the front door, and inside the home. In short, it appears that this female cat is (was hopefully) spraying urine on to numerous places which is distressing to an owner.

My instinctive and immediate response to the question is that the reason for it is because the cat became very anxious. And anxious cats will do things in an effort to make herself less anxious. One of these behaviours is to spray urine at ‘gateways’ within her territory and indeed other areas in order to surround herself with her scent. This reassures her.

It is the same process that cats engage in when they rub their flanks against your legs or their cheeks against your hand. They are depositing their scent onto you and in turn you are depositing your scent onto them – a mutual exchange. There is a merging of scent which creates a family environment for the cat.

Spraying urine is slightly different but it serves the same purpose. Sometimes domestic cats will also defecate in the house. This may well take place on the owner’s bed because that area is heavy in the scent of the cat’s human owner. To deposit her scent there in the form of faeces creates a highly effective merging of body odours which pleases her. Once again this sort of behaviour is due to anxiety.

A cat behaviourist said that this female cat might have met another stranger cat outside which has made her anxious. Personally, I don’t believe that that is the reason in this instance for this unwanted behaviour. Cats love routine. They will go through their cat flap over and over again and when it is suddenly barred to her it causes distress and confusion and ultimately anxiety.

The anxiety will fade and the best course of action is for her owners to be particularly friendly with their cat, to play with her, and do all they can to reassure her. They can use, as they are, an enzyme cleaner on those areas where she is spraying urine. This changes the molecular structure of the urine which causes the difficult-to-remove odour.

I wouldn’t expect this behaviour to last no more than a few days at most. I hope by now it’s ended.

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