In the previous blog we reviewed the different types of marking behavior seen in cats. The burning question that everyone who has endured this unpleasant behavior in their home wants to know is “Why is this happening?” Below are the four basic causes.
Medical causes and problems. It can be difficult to distinguish marking from other types of inappropriate urination. If your cat urinates outside of the litter box, leaving a puddle or a large carpet stain, she requires a thorough physical examination and urinalysis to check for or rule out medical problems such as a urinary tract infection, cystitis, arthritis, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Additional tests such as urine culture, abdominal radiographs, abdominal ultrasound, complete blood count, and biochemical profile may be performed if your veterinarian believes the house-soiling behavior is caused by a medical reason.
Feline idiopathic cystitis [FIC]. A frequent cause of house-soiling, cats suffering from FIC have increased frequency of urination, difficulty and pain when urinating, and can have blood in their urine. It is an inflammatory condition that can increase or decrease in severity over time and is aggravated by stress, changes in diet, as well as other issues. We will discuss this in greater detail in a future blog so stay tuned!
Marking behavior. As described above, these behaviors are normal in cats, especially in un-neutered male cats and unspayed females. Cats might target items with new or unrecognized smells such as backpacks or shoes, windows and doors if the perceived threat is coming from outside the home as well as stairways, hallways, doorways, or the center of rooms, especially if any kind of change is detected inside the home. Cats may mark around windows where they can see other cats outside. Also, marking behavior can be the result of anxiety caused by a change in the cat’s environment, particularly the area where he eats, sleeps, and plays.
Environmental and social factors. Stress is a major cause of spraying. Cats may spray when they perceive a threat to their territory such as a new pet or baby in the house, a new roommate or house guest, new furniture, a strange cat in the yard and so many other things we may never know about. Additionally, cats may spray out of frustration with their circumstances such as restrictive diets, insufficient playtime with owners, dealing with someone’s absence or the smell of new furniture and carpet. Your cat might even be house-soiling because he had a negative experience near or when using the litter box.
It’s important to remember that cats who mark items in the home are not being spiteful, rather, they are upset over something and need to be reassured. If your veterinarian doesn’t find a medical problem as the cause then you must consider what is going on in your cat’s life. First and foremost, shower your cat with lots of attention so they know that you care about them. Never scream at them, rub their nose in it or throw them into the litter box. That will make them more nervous, more upset, and more afraid of the litter box. Stay tuned for Part 3 to learn about what you can do to put an end to the house-soiling problems. To receive an email when this blog is posted, sign up at the orange button below.
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