Cats use a range of modalities (ie, body postures, facial expressions, tactile stimuli or touch, and grooming and scratching with claws) as means of communicating information. Urine spraying or urine marking is the deposition of urine, usually on vertical surfaces outside of the litter box, for the purposes of communication among cats. Urine marks within the home are often found in socially significant places such as on owner possessions or laundry, or in prominent locations . With the increasing trend of keeping cats indoors in some countries and the potential resultant increase in frustration-related behaviors, urine spraying may occur in the home. Although also a normal feline behavior, it is usually not deemed acceptable when the cat targets household possessions. Urine spraying is a common behavioral complaint that practitioners receive from cat owners and has the potential to disrupt the human–cat bond. In fact, feline elimination issues are a frequent reason cited by owners when they relinquish their cats to shelters and rescue organizations .Therefore, It comes as no surprise that it is essential to a cat owner to understand what triggers the spraying:
- Sexually intact cat (male or female)
- Agonistic interactions with non-resident cats outside the home
- Environmental issues or social changes that may cause frustration, stress or distress: Relocation to a new home; Change in the owner’s daily schedule; Change in the owner’s interaction with the cat; Suboptimal litter box management
- Agonistic social relationships between cats within the home
The treatment of urine-spraying behavior includes addressing the underlying causes that have been identified in the diagnosis: neutering intact cats; increasing litter box attractiveness; attempting to resolve the social issues between resident cats; addressing environmental triggers, including controlling the influence of outside/intruder cats; keeping a constant scent profile in the home; creating an enriched environment; scheduling interactive time with the owner that is predictable, positive and consistent; and avoiding change when possible. When there are multiple cats in the home, urine spraying may occur to delineate territory, or due to a lack of adequate resources or space or the stress of too many cats, and these issues must be addressed to aid in resolution. Additional interventions include the use of pheromones, nutraceuticals and psychoactive medications.
Always keep in mind that in a calmer, less stressful environment urine spraying may diminish or even stop, allowing the cat to remain in a new loving home. And remember, it is that Cat Simple.