Feline urine marking is a normal form of communication between cats. It is usually related to stress – unlike dogs, Cats do not typically use urine marking to claim territorial boundaries.
Urine marking occurs most commonly in male cats that have not been neutered. Neutering or spaying the cat is the most effective initial treatment.
What Is Feline Urine Marking?
Feline urine marking is a behaviour in which cats mark a location with urine to reduce their stress. Often, it occurs near doors and windows to communicate to neighbourhood tomcats wandering through the garden. Although this is a normal behaviour in cats, most owners consider it unacceptable when it occurs in the house. Any cat can exhibit marking behaviours, but male cats that have not been neutered tend to mark more often.
Urine marking is most often seen in multi -cat households. Although sex hormones may be behind some urine marking, stress and anxiety are also causes. Any changes in the household, such as the addition of other pets, workers in the house, or a recent vacation by the owner, may compel the cat to become stressed and urine mark.
What Are The Signs of Urine Marking?
A cat that is urine marking typically stands upright with its tail erect and sprays a small amount of liquid on walls and other vertical surfaces. However, other postures may be seen, and marking cats may spray on horizontal surfaces or items, such as bedding or laundry.
How Is Urine Marking Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will probably want to check a urine sample to make sure that your cat doesn’t have a medical reason for urinating outside the litter tray. If the urinary tract is inflamed, infected, or irritated by urinary crystals, there are treatments that can relieve the signs and encourage the cat to return to the litter tray. Some other medical conditions, such as bladder stones, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney or liver disease, also can cause a cat to urinate outside the litter tray. Your vet may recommend additional tests, such as blood work and x-rays, to investigate these and other possibilities.
Cats are fastidious creatures and may avoid the box if it is not clean enough, if they don’t like the scent or texture of the litter, or if the box is located near a high-traffic area in the house. Once other causes of inappropriate elimination are ruled out, a diagnosis of feline urine marking may be made.
How Is Urine Marking Treated?
The most effective initial treatment for urine marking is to neuter or spay your cat, if it has not been done already. However, once the behaviour has been learned, behaviour modification may be needed even after neutering or treatment for a medical disorder. Reducing stress in the cat’s environment may also help. Ask your veterinarian or a member of the veterinary staff who specialises in behaviour for recommendations on resources to help you understand what may be causing your cat stress.
Synthetic pheromone products (e.g., Feliway) are available in spray or plug-in diffuser forms. These products have a calming effect on many cats and may reduce the cat’s response to stressors. To discourage neighbourhood cats from approaching doors and windows, consider using a spray deterrent that is activated by motion detectors. You also should supply your cat a place to escape from children or other pets in the household, such as a room, cubby hole, or high perch/shelf. Anti-anxiety medications may be appropriate in some cases