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Neutered Male Cat Spraying


Question:

I have a neutered male cat spraying all the time. I used to run an animal shelter and I have been used to fostering cats that need to be looked after. My male Tom was the most tolerant of cats with all the other temporary housemates that he had to get used to until the last few months.

We moved 18 months ago and took in a mom stray cat with her 4 kittens We found homes for 2 of her kittens and kept 2, they are now about 16 month old. The mom cat wandered away and my Tom was fine with the kittens and accepted them with no problem. He now is marking his territory all over the house I have tried spraying him with water when I catch him doing it.

He only learned spraying behavior 6 months ago from a visiting stray male tom cat. We have had him from a 3 week old kitten and initially he was a house cat. He also has become aggressive especially with one of the new cats but with the other cats as well. He shows no signs of illness and has had a clean bill of health from our vet.

We have fenced off the garden so no more strays can get in. We have a large garden with trees for climbing etc. I have separated the new cats into the back of the house and they get into the garden at different times, the new cats are quite confused as to why he has turned on them and they are very submissive to him.

The spraying is still going on and he is aggressive with the other cats that he has been brought up with. Is there anything else that you can suggest? He has his own bed and space etc.

Response for Neutered Male Cat Spraying:

Hi Liz,

Sorry to hear about your problem with your Tom.

Obviously you know that male cats deal with stress and anxiety through spraying initially, but after a while it seems like it almost becomes a habit, long after any stress has gone away.

It if was just caused by stress, you could remove that source and be done with it, but habits are much harder to break.

You did a good job of having him checked out by the vet already; because this is the first thing suggested you do when you have a cat with a sudden behavioral change. Spraying with a water bottle is a good idea as well, but you always have to be there when he does it before he starts to associate negative consequences to doing it.

Here are some suggested things to do:

1. Try and identify the times of the day, circumstances, areas that he sprays and see if there are any patterns you can pick up on and identify.

2. Clean the areas that he sprays with an enzymatic cleaner so there is no lingering smell (no further reward for him doing this behavior)

3. If he has his own space can you give him another litter box, or a bigger one. Although not directly related to spraying, sometimes changing the litter box situation can help a lot.

4. There are some cat pheromones on the market (Feliway, etc.) some people have had great success with this product, and I have seen it work wonders (some people see no results). This can really help calm the cat down if it is due to stress, and is worth a last try.

5. Try to give more attention to him around the times that he does spray (before he does it if possible.) If he is busy getting attention or being active he might not feel the need to spray as much. Also if possible try and keep the same routine for him everyday, which might help calm him down.

Overall, I think it is important to at least figure out where and when he sprays the most, then your treatment plan can be the most effective.

If you need more assistance please let me know with neutered male cat spraying.

Thanks,

Dr. Chris


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