Why Are my Neutered Cats Spraying?

Book Cover: The Cat Who Cried for Help
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Hello. I have two cats. A female about 12 years old. A male three years old. When the three year old came into the home, I did notice a problem with the female marking different areas. It wasn't too bad at the time. But now it has got to the point that both cats are doing it everywhere in the home and outside also.They spray in all different areas. In the garage, as soon as I open the door, whatever cat is around will right away run in and spray.

Both have been fixed. They do not use a litter box, they are indoor and outdoor cats.Can you give me any advice? Thank you.

The Rest of the Story:

Territorial urine marking is probably one of the most difficult behavioral problems to correct. However, before assuming this is the only reason for your cats' ongoing spraying, I'd first eliminate physiological causes, especially in your 12-year-old female, as inappropriate elimination can also be a sign of urinary tract inflammation or infection. This will be the first possibility you need to eliminate immediately, so pick up the phone and make an appointment with your veterinarian without delay.

Assuming everything checks out okay on the veterinary front, you can tackle the problem step-by-step. Most behaviorists believe in a two-step process:

1) Discourage inappropriate behavior and: 

2) Reward good behavior.

The first task in discouraging bad behavior in this case is to level the "playing field" by removing every trace of urine scent from your house and your garage.

Wash down all vertical surfaces with a vinegar-water mix and dry thoroughly. If traces of scent still remain, you can use an enzymatic product which neutralizes urine.

Fortunately, a  product has been developed for discouraging cats' urine spraying. Developed by Feliway Farnam, the product comes in both a spray, to be applied to areas previously marked with urine by cats, and in a Plug-in (Feliway Comfort Zone), for whole-room treatment.

Feliway works by mimicking the "friendly facial pheromones which cats use to mark their territory. The theory is that cats will not mark with urine on areas they have previously marked with facial pheromones, and it works very well, judging by the accolades this product has received.

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Now comes the fun part: rewarding good behavior. Your cats need to view each other as the source of *good* things, rather than as territory invaders. Good thing include special treats, fun play sessions, and snuggling and petting. You can accomplish this by playing with them together, using a wand-type toy so you are somewhat removed from their mutual play. As they start to play together, reward them with lavish petting to both cats, and follow-up with treats, always in the presence of the other cat.

None of this will happen overnight. You have to pretend that you are introducing the "new" cat to your older girl all over again, and let them become acquainted with each other slowly, very slowwwwwly.

In the meantime, keep cleaning up errant sprays, and using the Feliway. If, after several weeks of the new regime, the cats are still insistent on marking, you might want to ask your veterinarian about using medication.

Some behaviorists have gotten good results from a medication called "Buspirone," which apparently does not have the undesirable side effects found with Valium or other tranquilizers.

I hope this information will be of value to you. I also highly recommend the book, "The Cat Who Cried for Help," by Dr. Nicholas Dodman. This book covers territorial battles, as well as a number of other behavioral problems.

Good luck! And please let me know how it comes along.

The Cat who Cried for Help
by Dr. Nicholas Dodman [
Whether you've experienced problem behavior with your cats or not, this book will help you re-train errant cats or forestall incipient problems. Written in language easily understood by lay persons. Trade Paperback.

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