Cat Urinating and Spraying

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Which Cat is Urinating or Spraying?

House soiling is the most common behavioral complaint owners have about their cats. Ten percent of all pet cats may have a urination problem at some time. Cats that urinate outside their box may be displaying one of two very different behaviors: spraying or inappropriate elimination. In multi-cat households the risk
of spraying for any one cat increases with the number of cats. If your cat sprays a horizontal surface, it can be differentiated from urination in that it typically leaves a long, thin wet area, rather than a puddle. Cats look very different when they are urinating merely for elimination. They use a squatting posture, usually voiding large amounts onto horizontal surfaces. It is important to differentiate between the two, since they have different causes and treatments.

Urine spraying is a marking behavior that generally has a territorial or anxiety based origin. Either intact males or females or cats that have been neutered or spayed can show urine marking behavior. When a cat displays inappropriate elimination, which is different than spraying, it is essential to consider possible
medical causes. A cat should have a thorough physical exam by a veterinarian. If the veterinarian determines that the cat is physically healthy, then the cause for the house soiling is most likely behavioral. Inappropriate elimination can result if a cat’s litter box is not cleaned appropriately, if there is not an adequate number of litter boxes in a multi-cat household, or from a medical condition such as interstitial cystitis.

In a multi-cat household, it is important to determine which cat is exhibiting the behavior so that the proper intervention can be made. Even if one cat is observed marking or urinating outside the box, it does not rule out the possibility that other cats are also behaving inappropriately. When it is necessary to identify which cat in a multi-cat household is spraying or inappropriately eliminating, there is a safe and inexpensive dye (fluorescein) that can be orally administered. Fluorescein can be fed to one cat in the household. That cat’s urine will fluoresce under ultraviolet light for approximately 24 hours. To detect urine with fluorescein
indicator, scan the household with a commercial black light or black light purchased from a novelty store. Although urine will commonly glow, fluorescein treated urine fluoresces a characteristic bright yellow. Scanning may also reveal previously undiscovered sites of elimination. By treating each cat at two day
intervals, the culprit can be identified.

Please contact our compounding pharmacy for more information about prescription fluorescein for oral administration.

Copyright 2003, Storey Marketing – Veterinary Website Updates. Reproduction prohibited without subscription from Storey Marketing (814-337-3441). Questions regarding this article should be directed to the compounding professionals at Martin Avenue Pharmacy by calling 630-355-6400.