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Cats/Adult male cat spraying

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Question
I have a 7 year old male American Bengal,in house only, that was neutered as a kitten. We had a urination problem for a short time a few years ago which, by adding an additional,remotely located litter box, went away. Now Bailey has decided to "spray" in various,seemingly non-related, spots throughout the house. I say he is spraying because there seems to be only a quick squirt,usually on the molding, and no real volume as the carpeting beneath the spot is not wet.There has been no change in food or litter.Can you suggest any reasons why this began, and how to stop it?Thank you very much.

Answer
Hi Doug,

The most common reason for a neutered cat to start spraying is that he feels territorial anxiety. This is most often because another animal or person has entered the picture, either as a visitor, permanent resident, or as a scent at the door or visible presence through the window. However, any change can cause anxiety enough to result in spraying, and some cats develop anxiety disorders without a known trigger. Spraying is a behavior associated with anxiety.

The spring and summer months are a common time for indoor cats to start spraying, because tom cats are active outdoors in pursuit of females. They become visitors to the yard, which feels threatening to indoor cats as it is part of their perceived territory. The toms may even spray the outside of doorways and windows that they can reach, which your cat can smell. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult situation to solve, because outdoor deterrents to get rid of neighborhood cats don't work well. But there are some cat repellents on the market you could try if you see strange cats in your yard.

Since there are other reasons your cat could be spraying, I recommend focusing on treating the space indoors. Aside from drugs, Feliway and other pheromone products are probably the most successful way to treat territorial spraying. I would recommend using the diffusers as well as getting a spray bottle to use directly on surfaces that he sprays frequently. The pheromones in these products have a calming effect and reduce the urge to spray. If he does feel the urge to spray, the pheromones from the spray bottle will have acted as a replacement of the scent that he felt he needed to deposit everywhere. Many people have great success with these products.

If the pheromone products don't work, I recommend you talk to your vet about antidepressant therapy. While we are all hesitant to place our kitties on meds, we have to think of their quality of life living in a state of anxiety. Several meds are available for the treatment of spraying. Prozac is favored, as it causes no noted side effects and has the highest success rate. It can usually be discontinued after a few months' use without a relapse in the behavior.

Good luck!
Jessica

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Jessica

Expertise

The areas in which I have gained the most experience are cat health and feral cat management/rescue. I provide supportive care to chronically ill cats, hospice care to terminally ill cats and also am involved in trap-neuter-return efforts. My specialities lie in taming feral cats and in the allopathic treatment of cats with illnesses or special needs. I also have owned Siamese, Himalayans, Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Savannahs, Bengals, Peterbalds, Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthairs and am well-versed in cat breeds as well as cat behavior and nutrition.

Experience

I have 15 years of extensive experience with cats ranging from breeding to medical care. My daily routine consists of caring for cats with diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, feline leukemia, feline AIDS as well as feral cats. I have experience with liver patients, heart patients, feline infectious peritonitis, cancer, recovery from amputation and trauma, congenital deformities and most every disease in between. I have assisted cats giving birth and hand-nursed kittens who were neglected by their mother from 2 days old through weaning.

Education/Credentials
15 years' hands-on experience. Current nursing student. I've studied the parallels of human and cat anatomy as well as zoonotic disease, so my studies are broadening the depth of my understanding of feline anatomy, physiology and pathology.

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