Cat Marking

 

About a year ago I rescued a stray kitten who quickly became a part of our family.  He has gotten along great with our two adult dogs from the beginning, but as he matured he started marking- mostly the dogs beds. We had him fixed and that seemed to stop the problem for about eight months.  Recently, he has started urinating on the dog beds  again and I am at my wits end!  I have tried enzyme cleaners to remove the smell and sprays that are supposed to deter cats from marking, but to no avail. At this point I just leave him outside when I’m not home but winter will be here before we know it and that  won’t be an option.  He seems happy and is very loving towards my partner and I, as well as our dogs.  We keep his litter box clean.  He has his own bed, which he often sleeps in, as well as toy to play with, so I really can’t figure out what the problem is?! He is a great cat, except for his foul smelling bad habit! I am going to purchase a food  additive that is supposed to reduce the scent of his spray.  Do you have any other suggestions?  Thanks for any advice!

Ah!  The case of the marking cat!  Although marking may be caused by reasons other than a need to eliminate, the result is the same – the cat is urinating or defecating in your house. 

There may be many reasons for marking; however it’s important to understand that marking is a normal behavior and probably has very little to do with you.  Marking can increase under stressful circumstances such as adding a new animal to the household.  However, the number one reason cats stop using their litter box is because it’s not clean enough.   Think about why neutering the cat worked for 8 months and then the marking started up again – were there any changes in your household during this time?  It’s also possible that your cat has a urinary tract problem and you should have him checked by a veterinarian.

The best way to deal with marking is to implement a housetraining regimen.  You housetrain a cat the same way you do a dog – set up a schedule, confine the cat to a crate or small room, reward the cat when he eliminates in the litter box, allow supervised access to an area of the house after proper elimination and gradually increase the area to which he has access.

It’s always worth looking at your cat’s diet.  The better the diet, the less stress and physical problems your cat will have.  A cat’s diet should be human-grade food with minimal heat processing and very fresh – i.e, packaged properly so there is no exposure to air, light, water, etc., or a raw diet.  Cat grass may be a good addition to your cat’s diet and help him digest his food.

Finally, as with dogs, mental stimulation is very important for cats – they are smart and need puzzles to solve.  Feeding out of a Kong or other innovative feeding toy, as well as training will keep your cat both mentally and physically healthy.

Raising Canine has a school for dog trainers which focuses on operant training for dogs, dog behavior, working with clients and addressing client compliance, and the science behind behavior modification.