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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 11 November 2003 Issue

By Jill Conner, Ph.D.

Male Cat Spraying

"Spraying" has nothing to do with aberrant litter behavior.  It is a sexual marking intended to let other males (in the household and those outside) know who is on the premises.  Cats are not "pack" sounds as if you have a struggle for dominance going on among your many male cats.  Whatever you do, *don't* get a female!  Spraying will get much more aggressive!  Spraying (scent marking) begins as soon as the cat's testicles descend and testosterone floods the male cat's body.  Once it begins, it's very difficult to extinguish.  A male cat neutered past the age of 9 months will continue to "mark" even after being neutered.

You need to determine who the real culprits are.  In order to do this, you must put four cats at a time in isolation (a small room where they cannot get out.)  Feed each cat (out of the sight of the other three) in this isolated group a tablespoon of tuna fish heavily laced with food coloring.  Red, blue, yellow, green.  Observe the color of the "spray" (as this is a bodily function, the color fed to that cat will be seen.)  Do this until all ten have been "tested".  You will probably discover that two are vying for "top cat" position.  

Once you have identified the culprits, separate those two cats.  Do this for a few weeks (at least).  If you observe that one cat stops marking, allow him back into the colony; or, you may choose to allow the truly top cat back into the colony.  However, you will have to keep the offender out of the colony for quite some time in order to stop this war.  Once separated, you may not be able to re-integrate the solo cat into the colony without fights.

As for the cleaning agents, although these products might mask the scent of one or two "accidents", the animal always is able to smell it.  After more than four "accidents", the products stop working.

The absolute solution to this dilemma is to find adoptive homes for the offending cat(s).  
Jill Connor, Ph.D.

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