Pet Vet: Cat sent outside because of spraying

May 25, 2015

Today we are going to deal with a problem I believe to be fairly common among those of us who associate with feline companions. The subject is urine spraying.

When I use the term "urine spraying," I am specifically referring to the actual spraying of urine from a standing position usually aimed at a particular target. There are also situations in which a cat will display normal urination posture but is urinating in an abnormal location. Either situation can be quite frustrating for a caretaker, not to mention having to deal with the odor and staining that can result.

Mike has a black cat about 8 years old that has been forced into an outdoor existence because he has taken to spraying inside the house particularly in the living room. This is obviously an undesirable behavior and has left Mike with no apparent alternative. He would prefer to be able to share the inside of the house with his cat and would like to know if indeed there are any alternatives. Mike neglected to share his catís name so we will refer to him as Blackie.

The most important bit of information we need in this whole scenario is the answer to the question, "Why is Blackie spraying in the living room?" I realize this is an obvious point; however, the answer may not be so obvious.

First of all we need to rule out any type of disease process that might be causing Blackieís inappropriate urination. A urinary tract infection with bacteria can be very irritating and lead to urination in other than the litter box locations. There are cases in cats in which they produce crystals in the urine, which can score the bladder wall, again causing irritation and frequent urination in any location.

Problems with the kidneys themselves can lead to increased urination that can also occur in locations outside the litter box. These cats will often times drink more than normal and therefore have to urinate excessively. If one of these problems is underlying Blackieís abnormal urinary habits, it needs to be discovered and treated to eliminate the behavior.

Simple diagnostic testing can be done to help rule out a possible disease process causing this urinary problem. A blood test can be done to check the health of the kidneys and a very simple and very revealing test, a urinalysis with a urine culture for bacteria, can find potential problems within the urine itself. If this testing results in normal values for the kidneys and normal urine, we have to look for a true behavioral problem, and these problems can be quite elusive to solve.

Sometimes cats will begin spraying as a territorial marking behavior, especially if they feel their territory is being challenged. This can occur when an outdoor cat from somewhere else pays a visit. Cats will also begin spraying because of other changes in the household. This can be new furniture or rearrangement of old furniture. It may also occur when a new person joins the household, be they adult, child or infant. There will need to be a discovery discussion to try to figure out what might be causing Blackieís inappropriate urination if it is behavioral.

I must tell you that there are times, a significant number, when we simply cannot figure out the cause for inappropriate urination in cats. In these cases, when all attempts to discover an underlying cause have failed, we can resort to pharmacological intervention.

There are medications that can be extremely effective at reducing and often times stopping inappropriate urination. Your veterinarian can help you in determining whether one of these medications might be appropriate for your cat. The key point again is to rule out any possible disease process causing inappropriate urination before we reach for a pharmacological solution for inappropriate behavior.




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