Cat House Soiling - A 'Wee' Problem
Urine spraying or house soiling is the most common behaviour problem experienced by cat owners. If you are experiencing this with your own cat you will know just how frustrating and destructive this behaviour can be! Furniture, carpets and bedding are easily ruined by foul-smelling cat urine. Luckily there are some steps you can take to understand why your beloved feline friend has suddenly developed this anti-social habit and stop if from continuing.
How to Clean Up After a Cat 'Accident'
Using the correct products to remove cat urine is incredibly important in preventing the problem from recurring. The smell of cat urine can trigger a cat to spray or urinate repeatedly in a particular area. After blotting up the bulk of the liquid with dry paper towel, apply a cleaning spray specifically formulated for cat urine. These sprays contain enzymes not present in normal cleaning sprays that break up the uric acid crystals responsible for the pungent cat urine smell. Avoid products that simply deodorize or cover up the smell as this can make the problem worse.
Why is My Cat Weeing Outside of the Litter Box?
Sometimes medical conditions, especially Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (cystitis of an unknown cause), can be the culprit. Try to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible to rule out this painful condition. If your cat appears to be straining to urinate it could be an indication of a blockage, which is a life threatening emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention. If your cat is suffering from a urinary tract disease, your vet may recommend a special prescription diet as part of their treatment plan. It is important that these diets are used only under the guidance of your cat's veterinarian.
So, You've Ruled Out Medical Problems, What Next?
Another common cause of urine spraying or house soiling is stress. Although your cat may look as cool as a cucumber, the signs of stress can be very subtle. Often behaviour changes like house soiling or spraying are the first signs that something is wrong. New household members (both the human and furry kind), moving house or a new cat in the neighbourhood can all be triggers for feline stress. If you think that your cat may be anxious, try providing them with some quiet hiding places to escape from unwelcome noises or intruders. Make sure you spend some special one-on-one time with them each day playing or cuddling as well. Another useful tool is the Feliway synthetic pheromone spray or diffuser. Feliway is an odourless, man-made version of the pheromone cats release from scent glands on their face when they rub against objects. Using this pheromone regularly can help promote feelings of calm and reduce stress.
Litter Box 101
House soiling may also be the result of a simple litter box problem. Cats are generally extremely fastidious about their toileting habits and sudden changes can cause great offence! It is important that the litter box is kept as clean as possible. We recommend removing solid waste daily and replacing the litter every one to two weeks. Your cat may have a preference for one litter type over another, you could try offering your cat a 'menu' of different litter options in different trays to determine their favourite.
Another important tip with litter boxes is to ensure you have enough provided for each cat. A good rule of thumb provided by cat behaviour specialists is one box per cat with one extra. Make sure that they are positioned in areas where your cat is unlikely to be disturbed while they 'do their business'. Dogs, children and washing machines on spin cycle can all put your cat off using the litter box. Cats are creatures of habit when it comes to toileting, so be wary of suddenly moving their litter box, or they may soil in the area where the box used to be.
Urine soiling and house spraying can be a major pain for pet owners, not to mention the financial costs associated with soiled and damaged household items. Making sure that your cat is happy and relaxed and providing top notch litter box facilities can go a long way in helping to prevent this problem.
When Teagan's not busy sharing her knowledge of all things pets as Pet Circle's resident vet, she is the human companion of two intense English staffies and a three-legged cat named Steve.
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