Spray it again, Sam
Mrs. Humphries arrived home and knew immediately what Sam had been up too. It was the smell that told the story. Cat urine – somewhere in the house – but where?
The smell was atrocious and Mrs. Humphries was getting to the end of her tether. How could she invite visitors to her home when the whole house smelt like a freshly-endorsed cat litter tray?
Why Was Sam Spraying?
But there was another matter. Sam also had a lower urinary tract disease. He was forming crystals in his bladder and also had a few nasty bacteria that were causing a bladder infection. This was another engine that was driving him to spray more that he would do otherwise.
Spraying is one of the commonest behavioural problems about which cat owners will complain to their veterinarian. I treat spraying cats regularly in my behaviour clinics and would see at least one a week.
I am surprised to find that the more I look at this problem, the more I see the link between marauding neighborhood moggies causing a resident cat to spray, and a bladder infection in the same, spraying cat. I estimate that about 60% of the spraying cases I deal with have the bladder condition commonly called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).
Spraying is a normal marking behaviour of entire (non-desexed) male cats and also of female cats when they are in season.
It is a form of communication. Desexing a male or female cat is likely to improve the behaviour but spraying is often seen in desexed cats, males and females, too. This often occurs when the cat is anxious, upset or ‘territorially stressed’. I have seen spraying behaviour in cats never let out of their house but where, through a window, they can see other cats prowling through the garden or around the house. Many house-confined cats will station themselves on an elevated platform where they can peer through a window to the ground below and observe roaming cats.
Sometimes these roaming cats are devilish. I have seen cases where they will spray through a fly screened door to upset the resident cat within. I know of a case where a roaming cat entered through a cat door, chased the resident cat of its sleeping owner’s bed and then sprayed on the owner’s face as she was waking up to the melee!
Other cats will spray on new items that have been brought into the house because of the new smell and some will spray because they are constantly bickering with cats that they live with.