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Common Behavior Problems

Litterbox and Urine Marking/Spraying Problems

If your cat is soiling the house, it may be because he doesn’t like using his litterbox, or because he is spraying. It’s rare for a cat to stop using the litterbox altogether.

Your cat may have developed preferences, other than her litterbox, for where and on what she likes to relieve herself. Litterbox problems can be a symptom of other behavior problems, such as your cats not getting along together or fear related problems.

Spraying is a marking behavior in which a cat backs up to a wall, furniture or other vertical surface, raises her tail, and deposits a small amount of urine. Both males and females can spray. If your male cat isn’t neutered, it is unlikely you will be able to control his spraying behavior. Have him neutered now - there are no behavioral reasons not to.

Cats urine-mark in response to anything they feel is a threat to their territory, including visitors, odors, or other cats. Cats may also spray when they are anxious or fearful. Depositing their own familiar odor seems to have a calming effect on cats. For some great ideas try our new CDs What Cats Want: Creating a Cat Friendly Environment or Helping Cats Co-Exist: Creating Feline Friendships.

You MUST take your cat to your veterinarian for a complete check up and most likely laboratory testing on your cat’s urine or stool before working with the problem behaviorally.

Litterbox problems are generally resolvable. Start by purchasing our booklet Cats Come Clean which is full of information about creating a cat friendly litterbox. These tips will solve many problems. If your cat’s problem is more complicated, schedule a telephone or in-home consultation with us so you can continue to live happily with your cat.

Urine-marking problems may require both behavior modification and short-term medication prescribed by your veterinarian. We can give you individual assistance with either a telephone or in-home consultation.

Rest assured your cat is not doing this because he is mad at you, is trying to tell you something, or is trying to get back at you. Do not try and punish your cat, and especially do not try to show her the “mess” and then put her in the box. This will not solve the problem, will significantly damage your relationship with your cat, and can cause her to dislike the litterbox even more.

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