Focus on urine marking in cats
The classic urine marking posture which most of you will be familiar with is depicted below. The cat backs up to a vertical surface and stands with an erect quivering tail and deposits urine forcefully against the surface. This is commonly called “spraying”. When the cat does this it is intended to impart information about itself to any other passing feline and is a normal part of a cats repertoire. Although neutering will normally reduce or stop this behaviour in most cats, some will continue. It is a common misconception that only male cats spray, but both male and female cats are capable of this behaviour. This normally only becomes a problem when a cat begins to do this inside the home. A cat will not normally urinate this way unless performing a marking behaviour, although there are exceptions where pain or other illness make squatting difficult. It is important to say at this point that cats can urine mark by squatting as well, so it isn’t straight forward. Squatting in inappropriate places can also be as a result of illness.
Therefore if your cat has recently started urinating in inappropriate places within your home by either method described above, the first course of action would be to make sure that there are no underlying illnesses.
If no clinical problem can be determind, then the reason for the change in your cats toileting habits may be down to a behavioural issue. There are many reasons why your cat may find it necessary to behave in this way, as this is one way in which cats react to stress, anxiety and conflict in their lives. If the cause can be easily identified and dealt with e.g stopping a neighbours cat from getting into the house, or is temporary in nature e.g a visitor who is only staying for a few days. Chances are that things will improve once these problems have been dealt with. But if the problem cannot be identified or is ongoing, it will be necessary to consider a behavioural consultation. It may be that the problem can be identified with closer questioning and resolved, or a management protocol may be the answer to reducing stress levels. This service can be provided by the practice.
Another therapy which is available over the counter at the practice which helps to reduce stress in cats and promotes a feeling of well being is a product called Feliway. It is useful for both short term problems and for use alongside a behavioural modification programme.
This is a synthetic copy of the facial pheromone produced by cats. The facial pheromones are deposited by cats via rubbing the side of the face onto prominent objects. These pheromones convey a message of security and reassurance. Feliway is therefore used to increase the sense of familiarity and security in the home environment.
Areas treated with Feliway may help to reduce spraying/scratching and promote facial marking instead.
Pheromones are species specific therefore Feliway will not effect any other pets within the home. It is also odourless, and can be used alongside any medications your pet may be taking. If you wish to find out more about this product you can visit the Feliway website, or contact the practice.
If you have any questions about anything in our newsletter or have any concerns about your cat after reading the above topic, then please feel free to contact the practice and discuss these.