Spraying by Cats: A Frustrating Problem for Pet ParentsPublished September 12, 2012
By Jo Singer
Just about four years ago, for no apparent reason, our beautiful eight year-old neutered white Oriental Shorthair cat, Sir Hubble Pinkerton, started spraying liberally on the sides of our mattress. In all my 48 years of sharing my heart and home with felines, I have had only one cat (a magnificent intact Russian Blue in the middle of a brilliant show career) who had a similar issue with spraying when he discovered that my ex-husband’s raincoat hanging over the chair was the perfect spot upon which to mark his territory.
To prevent a repeat performance of his macho behavior, Algernon was quickly neutered, ending his connection with show business. The surgery was an instant cure, with never another episode of this undesirable behavior.
But when a cat begins spraying out of the blue for no “logical” reason, this exasperating behavior becomes a guardian’s nightmare. What can be even more maddening is trying to ferret out the cause for this frustrating comportment. In fact, this nettlesome behavior can turn even the most patient and devoted kitty lover's hair grey overnight. Trust me, I am speaking from personal experience . . . been there, done that, even have the T-shirt.
In our situation, it took us several weeks to discover that the culprit was one of our two neutered Oriental Shorthair males, Sir Hubble Pinkerton. After undergoing several diagnostic tests, our veterinarian finally diagnosed Sir Hubble with Diabetes Insipidus, a relatively rare condition in cats. Sir Hubble responded beautifully to treatment and within several weeks the spraying episodes abated. And after two years of no spraying, to test the veracity of the diagnosis, we stopped the medication and his urine tests were completely normal. He continues to be tested every six months with no trace of the condition.
But what is befuddling both my veterinarian and me is that Sir Hubble has recently started spraying again. The poor kitty is banned from the bedroom, since it is the only area he chooses to mark. Unless we are there to supervise him, the room is totally off limits. He is extremely frustrated, and becoming more and more anxious, pacing and yowling to be let in!
But here’s the kicker! Two huge tom-cats have started hanging out around our house. Of course for a kitty that tends to be insecure and extremely territorial, this scenario alone might account for his behavior. On one hand, Sir Hubble’s recent bout with illness (which I described here on Petside) may have him stressed to the point that almost anything could set him off, or, on the other hand, his Diabetes Insipidus may have become active again.
And because he is only “spraying” vertically, and not piddling little puddles on horizontal objects all over the house, we highly doubt he has a urinary tract infection. Spraying behavior is a vertical phenomenon.
I have learned never to assume anything, even if based on prior chronic conditions. He will once again be tested thoroughly. But in the meantime, until we can make a definitive diagnosis, I am pulling my very grey hair out by the handfuls.
Inappropriate elimination in cats can be a complex and difficult problem with which to deal, don’t you agree? Share your thoughts in a comment.