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Cats are wonderful animals, and they make fantastic pets. However, not unlike dogs, birds, horses, or any other domesticated animals, they have their own little annoying quirks that need to be nipped in the bud as soon as they begin.
One of these upsetting behaviors is the spraying of furniture and carpets with cat urine, and, yes, a neutered cat can engage in the frustrating ritual. But why does Fluffy do this to your home when he or she is an otherwise well-behaved little feline?
Here are some of the many reasons this happens and what you can do to control this disturbing act:
Cats spray for a variety of reasons. The foremost reason, however, is to urine mark possessions as a method used to communicate with other cats. Male cats accomplish this by releasing tiny amounts of urine on vertical surfaces, while both males and females may spray a deluge of cat urine on a flat horizontal surface or mark it with defecation.
Many owners may ask, "Can neutered cats spray?" Well, some cats do this when they feel threatened, causing them to act in a territorial fashion. This can be caused by a new cat moving into your home or the presence of stray cats in your yard when Snowball goes outside to play.
If he is an indoor cat and sees them through the windows and doors, he may spray urine to ensure that the other cats identify your home as his territory.
Sometimes cats get stressed when you change their immediate environment, as well. Cats do not take well to change, so moving to another home or even rearranging the furniture can upset the cat and provoke her into marking, especially since she must identify the "new" area as her own.
There are many ways to determine if a cat loves you. Unfortunately, the same can be said for telling signs when a cat doesn't like your presence. Cats have even been known to spray people that they do not know or like as a defense mechanism. If they do not spray the person directly, they may urinate on their clothes or bedding. Can neutered cats spray strangers? They sure can when they are afraid.
However, it goes without saying that the majority of cats spraying urine is strictly a result of not having been neutered. If a mature male knows a female in heat is nearby, he will howl, spray urine, and become aggressive until he is able to do what he feels compelled to do.
Remember, the time when a kitten reaches sexual maturity will vary, just in the way it does with humans, but the environment and breed of the cat can also both play significant roles in the puberty onset age.
For example, Siamese cats can show signs of maturity as young as 4 months old, while some breeds, such as the Norwegian Forest Cat, do not reach sexual adulthood prior to the age of 10 months.
This being said, the average feline reaches adolescence between 5 and 6 months. At this age, a female can get pregnant after going into the heat cycle. She will howl continuously and stick her rear up in the air, signaling that she is ready to mate.
At this point, she may spray her estrogen-laden urine on the walls, not unlike her adolescent male counterparts.
While cats may feel compelled to mate and reproduce at around 5 months of age, most people do not have the desire to breed their felines. They also feel compelled to eliminate the number of unwanted kittens that mating may produce since there are already too many homeless cats and kittens that are in need of forever families willing to adopt them.
That is why neutering and spaying are so important. In essence, you are sterilizing your animal so he or she is unwilling and unable to mate or reproduce.
In a male, this means neutering, which is a castration process. This is simply the removal of his testes. In a female, this means spaying, which is no more than a hysterectomy or removal of her uterus and ovaries.
These operations not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but they also prevent diseases and unfortunate behavioral patterns that only occur as a result of the cat's sexual maturity.
For example, your spayed female cat cannot get uterine cancer without a uterus, and her chances of developing breast cancer are reduced by a quarter. This is because hormonal changes and urinary tract infections are greatly reduced by the surgery. Pregnancy and birth in the animal kingdom also tend to be high risk.
Male cats that are neutered cannot get testicular cancer once the testes are removed. They also lack the desire to engage in aggressive acts towards other cats and other animals.
Unaltered male cats that find themselves in constant fights can get injured, killed, or contract the feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia through the blood of a sickly cat.
Sometimes those wounds can become infected and lead to abscesses. Males that are not neutered also tend to roam away from home, possibly getting hit by motor vehicles.
These reasons are why it has been estimated that neutered or spayed cats survive longer than those that are unaltered.
There are a few different ways to deal with your tomcat's urine-spraying habit. Just remember, it is always best to deal with him in a kind manner.
Punishing your cat will only add to his stress, which will increase his desire to spray since the behavior tends to relax him.
Neutering your male cat may not eliminate his spraying or urine-marking tendencies immediately, but it will significantly cut down on the problem.
Spaying will be of the same benefit to a female cat. Neutering your cat will decrease his sex hormones dramatically, and this should lead to a large decrease in his spraying of urine.
You can also consider using flower essences to help your cat feel more relaxed at home. The feeling of comfort will help reduce the risk of unwanted behaviors.
Your cat may be getting bullied or chased by other indoor or outdoor cats or by another animal in your home or in the neighborhood.
If this is happening, you need to separate him from the tormentor and apply desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to better improve the situation between the animals.
You should also attempt to better train the offending animal. If the offender is outside, do not allow your cat to see the other animal.
You could lower the blinds or draw the curtains to help alleviate his stress. Also, refrain from permitting him to go outside if his fear is solely based on his outdoor exploits.
If you have multiple cats, your kitty may be afraid of being interrupted by his housemates while he is conducting his business in his litter box, so he decides to spray urine wherever he can.
Having their litter box will calm cats down and release any stress they have leading to the spraying behavior.
Having him focus on cat food puzzles and interactive toys like light pointers can keep him occupied and far less stressed. Give them cat trees and high perches to increase their vertical space.
You should also schedule playtime or trick training daily, so he has a schedule or at least some type of structure to his day.
Your house cat will feel more secure by engaging in predictable interactions with his cat parents or with other humans in his household, and he will eventually keep his mind off of any situations that may be causing him discomfort or providing him with instability.
Yes, they can, in certain situations. But, if after having your male cat neutered and trying all the suggestions above, he is still spraying, it may be best to have him visit his vet.
He may be ill or require urinary surgery. At the least, he may suffer from some form of anxiety or depression, and your vet can prescribe a mild sedative or give anxiety medications.
If all else fails, he or she can send you to a cat specialist to assist you with better training your furry friend to keep your carpets, drapes, bedding, and cat-love-pronouncing clothing free of territorial marking.
Cat spray usually has a strong, pungent odor that many people describe as being similar to skunk spray. It can be hard to get rid of and linger in the air depending on how often it's sprayed or where it's sprayed.
Neutered male cats typically don't start spraying until they're at least six months old, and it can happen up to two to three times a week when they're in heat. But if there are other cats in the house, it can happen more frequently too.
To clean up your cat's mess, you'll need to use an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for pet odors and stains. These cleaners contain bacteria that cause a chemical reaction and break down the proteins contained in urine, making them much easier to remove from furniture and fabrics. There are a lot of pet-friendly cleaning products on the market. Just make sure you read the instructions before using any type of cleaning product in your home!