Ask the Veterinarian By Caterine Wendt, DVM Inappropriate elimination includes urinating or defecating outside the litter box as well as spraying. This behavior can be demonstrated by cats of any age and stems from a variety of causes. Other than territorial behavior (spraying), the three most common causes include: multiple medical conditions, stress, inter-cat aggression, and litter box issues to name a few.
Spraying or Inappropriate Elimination?
While the end result may appear the same to cat owners, spraying and inappropriate urination are different. Spraying involves urinating on a vertical surface such as a wall or door while inappropriate elimination is usually found on horizontal surfaces such
floors, furniture, laundry baskets, etc. Urine spraying, or marking, is a specific territorial behavior most commonly associated with un-neutered male cats (toms) or multiple cat households. Spraying is also possible in a neutered male cat if for some reason neutering did not remove all testicular tissue- this can occur more often when a male cat is cryptorchid which is when the testicles have not dropped and an abdominal exploratory is needed to find the intra-abdominal testicular tissue and sometimes not all tissue is completely removed in this most rare of circumstances. Spraying behavior is also motivated by a need to identify property or territory or to cover the scent of other cats, even those feral or stray cats hanging outside your home. In contrast, inappropriate urination is more of a general behavior and is not moti-
vated by territorial behavior. Cats are extremely sensitive to STRESS. Events such as moving, changes in routine, or any stressor may cause inappropriate elimination. Reduce these and other stressors whenever possible, or decrease their impact. Help your cat through stressful changes by making sure your cat has a quiet, safe place to retreat, such as a cat tree, hideaway, or window perch. In addition, consider using Feliway Spray, or Comfort Zone Plug-in with Feliway which is a diffuser that spreads feline pheromones throughout a room. These products contain a pheromone-like substance designed to help calm cats. Catnip is always a great natural alter-
native as well and you can purchase it inside toys or as loose, dried leaves which you can spread on a towel and then throw away the catnip when your pet is done having fun.
Litter Box Issues
Your cat may have developed a litter (substrate) preference and may not like the feel or smell of the current cat litter. Covered litter boxes will only intensify the smell of a scented litter and may cause your pet to avoid that litter box. Try different types of litter, including
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