Ooh, that smell! That is the reaction when someone gets wind of where a cat might have sprayed or inappropriately urinated. These episodes are really very common in cats and can infuriate the cat owners enough to lead to rehoming of their cats. Before you go down that path, let’s educate ourselves about why cats spray so that we can deal with the problem – or even better, prevent possible cat urinary problems.
First we need to determine if it is behavioral or medical. Medical issues can cause inappropriate urination or marking and it is best to have them examined by a veterinarian to diagnose the problem. This would include Urinary Tract Infections, bladder stones and crystals, or possibly “idiopathic cystitis”. A medical diagnosis can be made by examining your cat, checking the cats’ bloodwork and doing a urinalysis on it. If there is something medical going on, antibiotics and maybe a diet change will be indicated.
Based on my experience, behavioral issues tend to be more difficult to treat. First we need to determine what factors are causing your cat to behave this way. Causes can include:
- Undesirable Litter Box: Cats are particular about their toilets. The litter box may be simply too dirty, or it may be clean, but it may be too small. In multi-cat households, there may not be enough of them. The rule is to take the number of cats you have and add one litter box. The location of the litter box may be an issue. Finally, it might be the scent of the litter. Experts recommend that unscented, scoopable litter be used.
- Stress in the Home Environment: Scent is the primary way that cats communicate. They have scent glands on their cheeks, paws and flanks so when they rub objects, they are putting their scent on that object. This is sending the message that they’ve been there and are staking their claim to tell the other cats to back off. In multi-cat households, this rubbing helps to establish territories and create bonds between the pets. The cats may feel that it is too dangerous to access the litter box. They may also act out if there is a new human in the home. Cats are very sensitive to the smallest changes in the environment.
- Old Urine Smells: If your cat has urinated on an area and you clean it up, the smell might remain. A cat’s sense of smell is much better than yours. If old urine odors remain in your home, there is a very good chance that your cat is returning to the area because of the smell. She will continue to urinate in the area that smells like urine. Because of this, it is essential to thoroughly clean any areas where the cat has urinated using a special cleaner.
In general, the key to stopping inappropriate urination in cats or avoiding it all together is as simple as being a responsible and attentive cat owner. Keep your cat healthy by visiting your veterinarian with routine health checkups. When issues arise, have the issue diagnosed and treated effectively and immediately. Make sure that the litter box is as attractive to your cat as possible, and clean up urine accidents thoroughly. Minimize stress in your cat’s environment. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us call us here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at (618)-656-5868. Do all this, and your cat will thank you.