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Filed in Cats, Health

Spraying can be caused either by a variety of behavioral or medical conditions, such as stress, a urinary infection, a bladder problem, or even a hormonal imbalance.

It is important to take your cat to a veterinarian for a complete physical examination to make sure there isn't a medical reason for the inappropriate behavior. Neutering can help to eliminate spraying -- and the related need for territorial roaming and fighting especially in young tomcats before the habit is firmly ingrained. Neutering also makes the odor of urine less offensive.

If the veterinarian gives your pet a clean bill of health, you will need to deal with the spraying as a behavior problem. First, remove your cat from the area being soiled. Then, clean the area well because the odor of urine could encourage a repeat incident. Don't use any products containing ammonia because the urine smell will be enhanced. Enzyme solutions can be especially useful to neutralize odors. Using mothballs or placing your cat's feeding bowl in the area can also help to discourage spraying.

Retrain your cat by keeping him in a small area that contains only a bed, food, and litter box. Cats are fastidious by nature and often prefer to go to the toilet in a clean but inappropriate place rather than a messy litter box. Make sure that the litter box is large enough, is in a quiet place, and is not being used by too many other cats.

Find a brand of cat litter your pet likes, and then try not to change it. Some litter odors may be offensive to your cat. Clumping litters usually remain cleaner.

Of course, be sure to correct any problems that might have prompted the behavior. Often such things as family conflict, a visitor, death of someone in the household, overcrowding, or even loneliness can create anxiety and have a strong influence on a cat's personality.

In some extreme cases, medication may be needed to alter behavior.

Source: Ask the Vet, reprinted with permission by Pet Food Express. Ask the Vet is published by Veterinarian's Best, Inc., PO Box 4459, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103.

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