Q: In a past column, you mentioned a product that can deter cats from spraying. What is it? — G.H., via cyberspace
A: Feliway is a copy of a comforting pheromone found on cats’ cheek pads. As a cat rubs your leg or a table leg, the pet deposits that pheromone. The spray version of Feliway (also available as a diffuser you plug into a wall, or a wipe) can ease territorial anxiety related to spraying. Feliway is available online, where pet products are sold and at veterinary offices.
While Feliway can be an extremely useful tool to lower anxiety and minimize spraying, you ultimately need to address why a cat is spraying in the first place.
First, is the cat truly spraying, or is the pet having accidents outside the litter box? There is a difference. Cats who spray, typically back up against a wall or piece of furniture and let loose with tail lashing and often telling the world all about it. Cat spray drips down vertically. Alternatively, cats who have accidents generally void on a flat surface, ranging from a carpet to a throw rug,on a sofa or even the kitchen sink.
Cats who spray are marking their territories, similar to gang members who tag property with spray paint. Most often, cats are offended by the presence of other cats in their territory (in a backyard, for example). A visiting uncle or the adoption of a new cat might also prompt spraying.
If roaming outdoor cats are causing a problem, a temporary solution is to keep the spraying cat in another part of the house, away from windows with a view of or potentially being able to smell the interlopers. Meanwhile, attempt to dissuade the visiting cats, A motion detector sprinkler called the Scarecrow (available online and at some hardware stores), might do the trick. Also, adding a litter box near where the cat is spraying is always a good plan. Be sure to read the directions about where to spray Feliway.
If a visitor or newly adopted cat is causing anxiety, consult a certified cat behavior consultant, and/or pick up the books “Cat vs. Cat” or “Think Like a Cat” both by certified cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett; or the ebook “Good Cat!,” which I authored.
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