Sometimes male cats cannot be neutered. And it is entirely legitimate to leave them unsterilised and “whole”. This occurs when the cat cannot be put under a general anaesthetic. A veterinarian needs to put a male cat under a general anaesthetic to remove their testes.
A cat with early-stage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) or any other serious heart condition cannot be placed under a general anaesthetic because it’s too risky. They have a good chance of not coming through it.
And HCM is a congenital heart disease. It can start in kittens or subadults. For example, HCM can start at 4-months-of-age in Maine Coons, a very popular cat breed.
This is the story of a lady of Reddit.com who adopted a kitten born into the home of a cat hoarder:
He was born out of a hoarding house, many generations of inbreeding. I adopted him as a very small kitten, brought him to the vet immediately and he was diagnosed with stage 5 congenital heart disease. Anyways to the point – he cannot be put under anesthesia. He probably will not wake up. Super super high risk. He has started spraying and I cannot have all my clothes and house and myself reeking like that smell, but I refuse to just get rid of him.
And if a male domestic cat cannot be neutered, they are typically going to display all their male, testosterone-fuelled behaviour which includes spraying urine against vertical surfaces.
That’s going to be very trying for a committed and decent cat caregiver. The only way you can minimise spraying is to remove testosterone which is produced in a male cat’s testes. You have to remove those under the neutering operation.
If that can’t be done you are left with a male cat who could be difficult to live with.
Under these circumstances, it seems to me, the best way forward is to create an environment which minimises the need for a male cat to spray. Why do male cat spray?
I can think of two major reasons.
Marking their home range-their territory
Male cats (and females sometimes) like to mark their home range which in effect is like leaving a calling card to other domestic cats that this is their place. As the smell of the urine deteriorates the “trespassing” cat can gauge when the resident cat was there. It helps them to avoid each other.
It allows for a kind of timeshare when there is an overlap in home range.
If, therefore, a cat who cannot be neutered is living in a multi-cat home they are likely to spray because of the pressures of the other cat encroaching on their compressed home range. Or they might see a cat outside the window which may trigger the need to spray.
To avoid these situations, you avoid having a multi-cat home and, perhaps, you blank out the window so the cat can’t see outside. Pretty severe solutions.
Often it is not just about marking a home range, it’s about making the place that they call home more friendly for themselves. They do this by spraying urine which smells of them. They might even defecate to achieve the same goal.
They may defecate or spray on an object of furniture which is particularly infused with the human smell namely the bed.
This merges scents (scent exchange) which also calms the stressed cat by making the environment friendlier.
The trick here would be to make the environment as calm as possible for a cat that cannot be neutered. For me this would mean making the environment as cat friendly as possible. It would mean that the cat’s caregiver is at home as much as possible.
It might mean not being away from home for more than several hours at one go. This might in turn mean that the owner has to work from home when permitted and when possible. A lot of jobs allow this nowadays.
There are ways to make the more friendly which may help to minimise spraying. The classic is to use a Feliway diffuser:
Those are some major potential remedies for the problem or methods to minimise the problem.
You probably know by now that the best way to clean up cat urine is to use an enzymatic cleaner specifically manufactured for the job. This breaks down the chemicals in the urine which in turn removes the odour. Using water and soap et cetera is not going to work.
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