Spray it again, Sam (continued)
What are the remedies? Is there a medical cause?
Firstly, look for a medical cause. A urine test is essential to look for the disease known as FLUTD. If your feline felon has this disease, it can be treated.
Generally treatment involves a course of antibiotics and often a long course too. Diet change will be needed and your vet is likely to advise a specialised diet to control your cat’s urinary pH levels and to ensure bladder health in other ways.
The cleaning routine
Next ensure you are cleaning up the spray in the correct manner. Don’t use any agent that contains a scent of any type and especially any cleaning agent containing ammonia. Vinegar is another product to avoid. The scent of the cleaning agent may be perceived by your cat as the scent of another cat and your cat may over-mark this area.
Clean the area with an enzymatic cleaning agent. The laundry detergent, Bio Zet contains enzymes that do the job well. Another product, Bac To Nature, which is available from your veterinarian is specifically designed for the job and, being non-scented, does everything right.
Having thus deodorized the area, spray the product Feliway on the sprayed article. Feliway is a new product. It is a synthetic analogue of the substances called Feline Facial Pheromones. When your cat rubs its face against you or your furniture, it is marking you or the furniture with the scents from its facial glands. Unlike urine spray, these scents appear to be globally recognized by all cats as ‘happy marking scents’. They are deposited by cats when they are content and calm. The concept of marking a sprayed object with Feliway is, to my way of looking at it, a means of preordaining it as being owned by your cat so that spraying is not necessary.
Even more convenient is the Feliway Diffuser. This is a plug-in unit that diffuses the Feliway Pheromone throughout the house. It is very effective for reducing spraying and aggressive behaviours.
More information is available through the Pheromone Pet Pick on our site.
Manipulating the marauding moggies
If your cat is being pushed by marauding moggies, gently persuading them to go elsewhere will certainly help your cat to improve. There are a variety of strategies but you must be sure to never harm this visiting cats.
Caution with punishing your cat
You may want to attempt to punish your cat if you catch it in the act of spraying. This may help, but one word of caution – if your cat is spraying because it is anxious or angry, the punishment may increase these behaviours. If you must use punishment, use is sparingly and cautiously.
Don’t be tempted to hit your cat. This means nothing to it and is ineffective. Your cat will only learn to avoid you when it sees you coming.
If punishment must be used, remote punishment is the way to go. Many folk use a water pistol and will squirt the cat when it is about to spray. This is sometimes effective, but be sure your cat does not see that you are the source of the discipline. Place a scent in the bottle and, as with the water bomb technique, the cat will learn that the scent means it is likely to get wet. Then, dab the same scent onto soiled articles with a piece of cotton wool. Don’t then spray the perfume onto these articles as spraying spreads the scent too far.
Another easy method is to use a several loops of wide masking tape. Attach the loops of tape, sticky side out, around the areas that your cat is spraying. Your cat will not enjoy walking on them and, unlike the tape, it is unlikely to stick around.
Medication helps to control spraying
There are a variety of medications that can be used to control spraying in cats. Although hormones are often used, these are being replaced by other medications that are safer and much more effective.
Spraying is a nuisance behaviour. However, with attention to all of the above, nearly all cats improve greatly or are cured. Most spraying cats need specific and individually tailored programs to solve their problems. Contact my office for more details.