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Pet World: A few things to try when your cat is spraying

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have an eight-year-old indoor male cat that shares the house with a cat (sister) of the same age. The male cat, Zack, has a bad habit of spraying furniture, walls, and doors on occasion, and I don’t know why. We have three litter boxes between the two cats and clean them frequently. The two cats are very social with each other, including us. There haven’t been any changes to the household either. Also, during annual vet visits we have had Zack tested for any underlying medical issues and nothing has been identified. Any idea what can be causing this bad habit?

-Joe, Coventry, Connecticut

Dear Joe,

Often cats spray as they sexually mature to mark their territories, so he likely developed the habit because he was neutered at an older age. But both sexes can spray as well because of stress, physical ailments, or unmaintained litterboxes. While there is no definitive way to know if Zack’s spraying is from a developed habit or for a current reason, there are three things you can try to dissuade the behavior.

First, if Zack is using the litter box for his solid waste, add a litter box attractant to lure him back to the box. Second, sift the box twice daily. Some cats are extremely fastidious and want super clean locations to relieve themselves. Finally, put a feline pheromone collar on Zack. Pheromones have been used successfully to manage behavior issues, and it might help in this instance.


None of these are guaranteed to work but trying one or a combination of things may help reduce or eliminate Zack’s spraying.

Dear Cathy,

We recently adopted a rescue lab mix. He is very shy when he first meets people with his tail between his legs. Lately, when someone comes to the house, he gets a little aggressive by barking at whoever comes over. I’ve tried to stop him and had people offer him treats. Any other suggestions?

–Mark, Seaford, New York


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