Domesticated animals have long been some of humanity's closest companions. Dogs are known as man's best friend, and cats were worshipped as gods by the ancient Egyptians. It is ironic that cats have almost returned to that god-like status with the nearly worshipful popularity of funny cat videos on the internet.
Today, we are going to be looking at cat spraying, but we feel like a general overview of feline and animal psychology, in general, is needed for the proper understanding of this subject.
Those very videos would not exist if it weren't for the finicky behavior of our feline friends. Cats can be strange creatures at times, and we don't completely understand why they do certain things. When it comes to understanding animal psychology, the best that we can do is make educated guesses.
Trying to understand the behavior of animals is almost fundamentally impossible because we are human beings, and we look at things through the worldview of a person, not a cat. Regardless, we do our best to make our guesses good ones, and a lot of the time, we are just about right when we examine and hypothesize about animal behavior.
Unfortunately, we may never know if our theories about the behavior of certain animals are correct since we can’t communicate with them or see the world through their eyes. One behavior that is a subject of contention among vets and other animal experts is when cats spray.
Cat spraying is a behavior in which cats spray their urine on a surface. This is different from urination, in which a cat will merely pee somewhere that they are not supposed to. Cat spray is composed of urine, but it is much more concentrated, which lends it a stronger smell and makes it harder to get out.
Instead of urinating normally, a cat will spray the urine backward with a little more force, so it really is more of a spray than a stream, hence the term. This may seem like an odd behavior, but it is common for animals to use their bodily functions in this manner. Look at dogs when they urinate on trees, after all.
There are many hypotheses as to why cats spray, and the veterinary community is divided over the reasons. Most vets seem to agree that spraying is a form of territorial behavior, but the reason behind why cats want to mark their territory is relatively obscure, though there are some ideas.
The primary motivation behind why cats spray is seen as anxiety. When cats are anxious, the smell of their urine reassures them that they are in their own territory. If your cat is properly house trained and they are comfortable in your home, there is no reason why they would be spraying.
Anxiety could be caused by your cat feeling like they are at a loss for power since cats are staunchly hierarchical animals. When a cat feels like the hierarchy within a home has been disrupted, they will start to act up. Cat spraying is not unheard of after the introduction of a new person or animal to the home.
Of course, there are reasons for cats spraying beyond the purely psychological. Cats can have medical issues that can cause spraying as well. For example, the buildup of crystals in the urinary tract can lead to cats spraying instead of their typical urination, which will have to be dealt with by a vet.
When male cats spray, it is often seen as territorial behavior for many of the reasons that we mentioned above. It is likely that your male cat feels that his dominance is being threatened by someone or something. You may want to take a look at what has changed since your cat started spraying.
Male cats are more likely to spray than female cats by a wide margin, so you may wish to adopt or purchase a female cat if you would like the lowest possibility of urine spraying. Keep in mind that spraying is relatively uncommon, so you should consider other matters when choosing your cat's sex.
Female cats do not spray anywhere near as often as male cats, but they too can do it sometimes. When a female cat sprays, it is more likely that they are suffering from a medical complication than a male cat. While it is still possible that anxiety is the source of your female cat spraying, it is less likely.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to get your cat to stop spraying is to identify the source of your cat’s discomfort and eliminate it (if the issue is psychological). If you can think of any changes in the past days or weeks that you can revert to see if your cat will stop, you should test them out.
If you have tried the behavioral approach and you are finding it difficult to make it so that your cat is more comfortable in your home once again, you may wish to take the medical approach. There is a possibility that your cat has a medical condition that will necessitate a trip to the vet if they won’t stop spraying.
Should your vet find no underlying medical condition as the cause of your cat spraying, they will give you a list of recommendations. Follow your vet’s advice to see if you can change your cat’s behavior back to normal. Spraying is rarely a permanent condition, so your cat should eventually stop when you go over the possible causes.
We hope that we have been able to help you get to the source of your cat's spraying. Feel free to recount some of your cat spraying experiences in the comments section below; you might just end up helping someone else with a similar issue!