Anxiety in cats and spraying behavior

Deborah S
by Deborah S
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Question3. Recently my pregnant friend, her dog, and her tabby cat moved in with my husband, our three kids, myself, and our Bichon. Not even three weeks living with us our bichon ended up pregnant, friends border collie being the father. It has been close to a month now and all of a sudden her tabby cat, who is a female, has started spraying our daughter's bed. The cat is not fixed. I am thinking she is either marking her territory or using pheromones to attract a mate. Other than getting the cat fixed or kicking it out, since it's not mine, what can I do to stop it from happening (Brianna Martel - Pennsylvania)

Answer

Cats can be very sensitive to change and one of the most common causes of inappropriate urination (marking, spraying, etc.) is stress.† Moving to a new home can produce anxiety in cats (even months later) and spraying behavior.† It is unlikely that the fact that the cat is intact (not fixed) is causing this problem. However, when female cats go into heat, they can act crazy and exhibit behaviors that are not typical for them. I recommend that the owners of the cat have her fixed as soon as possible and talk to their veterinarian about the urine spraying.

In order to minimize damage and to help the cat relax, it is best to keep the cat in a quiet location with minimal furniture and a clean litter box. This can be something as simple as a spare bathroom or your friendís bedroom fitted with a baby gate. That way, the cat can come and go by jumping over the gate to get to a quiet hiding spot or their litter box and cannot be pursued by other animals. Another option is to limit where the cat can go, such as keeping her exclusively in your friendís bedroom, equipped with litter box, toys, water and food, in order to minimize damage. Reasonable confinement like this can also make the cat feel more secure.

Also, some cats start to spray in other locations if the litter box is not to their liking. Things that can cause this include if the box is not cleaned often enough or if it is in a high noise, high-traffic area in the house, this can deter the cat from using it. The litter box should be cleaned at least once a day.

Make sure that the cat has a place where she can hide, feel safe and get away from the other dogs and people. It sounds like your house is very busy with all the people and animals and this can be enough to trigger anxiety and spraying.† The veterinarian can provide a pheromone diffuser (Feliway) that can help with anxiety. Make sure that your daughterís room is off-limits to the cat. This can be accomplished by simply being strict about keeping the door closed. Often cats are drawn back to the smell of their urine in locations, even if it has been thoroughly washed with an enzymatic cleaner and you cannot smell it. Giving these things a try may help tremendously but having a consultation with the catís veterinarian will help tailor the plan even further for success.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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