My male cat is seven years old and is desexed but over the past year he has been spraying. I thought cats that were desexed could not spray?
Spraying or urine marking is a normal behaviour of entire male cats and is primarily used for feline communication and territory marking.
Although desexing reduces the likelihood of spraying, it may not stop the behaviour completely.
Both desexed male and female cats may start spraying for a number of reasons and the best way to correct this behaviour is to determine the underlying cause.
Spraying must firstly be differentiated from inappropriate urination as these two behaviours often have different motivations.
When a cat sprays, they will back up to a vertical surface, such as a door or window, raise their tail and with a quiver, squirt several short bursts of urine.
When a cat is inappropriately urinating, however, they will not show this tell-tale behaviour and instead will empty their bladder in unwanted locations.
Spraying in a desexed male is more often associated with stress and social conflicts between cats.
A trip to the vet to rule out an underlying medical condition should be the first step in your investigation.
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a medical condition commonly diagnosed in cats with inappropriate urinary behaviour.
Once a medical condition has been ruled out, a behavioural cause for this problem can be further investigated.
Stress is a common cause of spraying and may be associated with events such as introducing a new pet or person to the household or coming into contact with strange cats in their territory.
Stress may be alleviated by limiting access of strange cats to your property or in the case of a multi-cat household, decreasing conflict between cats within the home or separating them altogether.
Your cat’s unwanted urinary behaviour may also be associated with litter tray problems, such as too few litter trays available, irregular cleaning or undesirable location.
This is easily solved by ensuring there are at least one tray for each cat in the household plus one additional tray which should be changed daily.
If your cat continues this unwanted behaviour, there are pharmaceutical options which may be discussed further with your vet.
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