My Cat Sprays Territorially

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, discusses the reasons behind a cat's terrtorial marking behavior.

By Marilyn Krieger | Posted: December 23, 2010, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My cat Kokopelli has started spraying every thing in the house. A feral cat in our neighborhood has started visiting the house often. We think our cat might be growing more territorial because of the feral. The spraying began suddenly and is getting a little crazy. Do you have any idea why he's doing this?

A: The timing of your cat’s spraying is not a coincidence. The behavior started when the feral cat escalated his or her visits. Your cat’s behavior is instinctual. Your cat sprays to broadcast his home territorial boundaries to the unwelcomed visitor.

One step to stopping the behavior is to persuade the feral that your house isn’t an ideal place to visit. You can place cat-safe deterrents, such as ultra-sonic devices, facing the spots the feral cat uses to access your property. You also can spread lemon and other safe substances that cats don’t like in the areas the cat frequents. These can deter cats, but you must reapply them after rain or snow falls. If the feral visitor is whole, then the cat should be trapped, neutered and returned.

You also must use an effective enzyme cleaner to thoroughly clean the sprayed areas both inside and outside your house. Neighborhood cats sometimes will spray the exterior of houses, targeting windows and sliding glass doors, provoking the resident cats to respond with their own territorial markings.

Preventing your cat from seeing the visitor can also help stop his spraying. Block his view outside by covering the bottom parts of the windows with either fabric or butcher paper. If possible, close the doors to the rooms where your cat can see the stranger. After the feral stops frequenting your house, you can gradually remove the paper and fabric from the windows and allow Kokopelli back in the room.

Read more articles by Marilyn Krieger here>>

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Reader Comments

Barbara    Pahoa, HI

1/13/2011 4:55:04 PM

Murphy started to mark in a big way. He peed my bed, my wool rug and other places. He is neutered also. It started when an unaltered cat visited my cat colony outside. He was unable to be trapped. My 5 cats are indoor, includes Murphy. I got the Feliway spray and it helped, you can spray directly on the spot, after cleaning. He left a few more wet spots, when our girl comes in heat. So I knew you could order Cat Attract, through a vet. Yep thats what I did. It is a herbal mix the does really do the job. Now complete bliss for our family.

Charmaine    Batavia, IL

1/8/2011 9:24:23 PM

My last 2 (neutered males) cats began spraying at the age of 3 when they saw neighbors cats in our yard. We kept them in the basement, which is finished NOT a cellar, when we couldn't be with them. Gradually, we were able to leave them up for short periods when we weren't home. They went down there at night and when we were on vacations or gone for the week. They lived to be 18 & 19. Some people thought it was cruel but it saved our house! This is a very frustrating behavioral problem and unfortunately some people just get rid of their cats because of it.

Vicki Howell    Raymond, MS

1/7/2011 9:07:01 PM

I have 4 male cats; 3 of which have been neatured!! They still try to mark their terrotity even afer being fixed!! Because it's still their terrority!!

jimmelyn    Benton, KY

1/7/2011 10:42:30 AM

There is no way I could clean every place that this abandoned cat has sprayed. Since I have wooden blinds at every window in my house, there is no way I can keep my bengal from seeing this cat when it comes up. He will actually try and tear down the blinds. I am in a bind.

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