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Pet Talk: Should A Neutered Cat Scent Mark?

By Sally Salopek

 

Q: We have a three-year-old cat. There have been a few times we’ve see him back up to a wall with his tail quivering and then he urinates a bit. Sam is neutered. I didn’t think a neutered cat would do this.

 

A: Your description of Sam’s behavior sounds like he may be spraying. Punishment is not the answer and may make matters worse. He is not doing this to annoy you but it is a way to let you know something is wrong in his environment or with his health. Most people don’t realize that all cats may spray, male or female, neutered or not. However spraying, also called urine marking, is most common in unaltered males.

The first thing you should do is take him to the vet. Neutered male cats are prone to bladder and urinary tract infections. Once medical problems have been ruled out, you should look for other causes.

Sam may be spraying because of anxiety. Cats are creatures of habit and don’t like change, so you need to look at what is going on in your feline’s life that may be causing stress. It is very important to try and discover what has triggered this behavior. Some things to consider are a new pet in the house. A new baby? Is your cat part of a multi-cat household and possibly being bullied? Have you changed Sam’s daily routine in any way? Had house guests? Is there a strange cat coming into the yard that Sam sees out the window? These are all possibilities along with anything else that may have changed in Sam’s life causing him anxiety.

One of the ways cats deal with stress is by spraying urine to mark their territory. They may be saying this place is mine, or they might do it to comfort themselves with their own familiar scent.

It’s important to clean any spots Sam has marked in your home with a pet-specific enzymatic urine cleaner. Without proper cleaning, these areas can attract him back to spray over and over again.

Also spraying or diffusing synthetic cat pheromones around your home promotes a sense of well-being and tends to discourage urine spraying. The ASPCA recommends using them in areas previously marked by your feline for best results.

Another possibility that may help with stress is a homeopathic solution called Rescue Remedy. You can help Sam feel more comfortable in his home by playing with him and also offering plenty of affection.

If all else fails you may need to talk with your veterinarian again about putting Sam on an anti-anxiety medication to help work through this. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. I hope some of my suggestions, along with your veterinarian’s advice, can solve this issue.

 

Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected].

 

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