What is Feline Spraying/Marking?

sprayingThis blog summaries the distinction between cat urination markings and will be continued in the upcoming January blogs with a discussion about urination problems and how they can be either prevented or eliminated. 

It is important to know how to identify whether the cat is marking or just peeing where it should not. Urine marking refers to the ways in which cats spray urine to send information and put their scent out into their environment. Marking can be vertical sprays (most common), horizontal spraying (not as common) and associative.

As the picture above shows, spaying typically includes a cat backing up to a vertical object like the side of furniture, a wall, a pet carrier, etc. The cat stands with his/her body erect with the tail extended straight up in the air, and sprays urine onto the surface. The tail and body typically twitches while he/she is spraying.

The urine smells extra strong to humans because it is not just regular urine – the spray contains extra communication chemicals to send other cats key messages! It is thought that this spray may contain information about sex, age, hormonal state, assertiveness and general health.

Associative marking - there are conditions surrounding the cat that can promote cat associative marking behavior – examples include a cat being punished and becomes anxious or the owner is away from the cat for a long period of time and it urinates on something personal where the owner’s smell is concentrated such as a bed or clothes. From a cat’s perspective, they are ATTEMPTING TO REDUCE THEIR ANXIETY – they are not retaliating against you (which is what a human view might deduce from this behavior). 

Read next week’s blog to learn more about urine markings and problems and how to effectively address them.

*Content adapted from Animal Behavior Institute (ABI).

What is Prey Sequencing?

All cats need to have their natural ‘prey sequence’ satisfied.  As guardians of cats, we are responsible for ensuring that such innate needs are met. Prey sequencing is a pattern of behaviors that follows the same sequence every time.  For cats, there are two components, stalking and catching, that comprise a four Cat Playingstep process listed below.  Have you observed your cat exhibit these 4 steps?

  • Step 1 - Staring
  • Step 2 - Stalking/chase
  • Step 3 - Pounce/grab
  • Step 4 - Kill bite

Playing is one way that cats demonstrate the prey sequence.  Did you know that different types of toys or enrichment will elicit different components of the prey sequence?  If we play with our cat and elicit only the chase component (as is the case with laser pointers) we may not be fulfilling all of the cat's needs. Fortunately, there are any number of free or commercially-available items that can be used to address the entire sequence.  This is important since cats view toys as their prey and instinctively perform the prey sequence with their toys.

Your cat needs this sequence satisfied not only at home, but also during boarding periods.  The Hotel 4 Cats highly recommends that you provide your cat(s) with his/her favorite toys during their vacation boarding period.  Such toys help enable them to have a satisfied, active and playful time while they act upon their instinctive need to stare, stalk/chase, pounce/grab and go for the kill bit during their time away from home.  Your cat’s toys from home also help keep him/her calm with familiar loving scents from home.
Review the 20 frame sequence below and see if you can determine the frames that depict each of the four components.  What prey sequence does your cat’s toys supports?

We invite you to read our next week’s blog to get additional ideas of types of toys and ways your cat’s environment can be enriched to stimulate each prey sequence.
The above has been adapted from an Animal Behavior Institute (ABI) study guide.

A Cat’s Functional Contribution To Society

autumn catWhether you live in the country or the city cats actually play a significant role in our population. But what might that be?  

Cats have played a very important functional role in society.  They have been depended upon to protect and keep grain storage areas, barns and our homes clear of mice and rats. This can be verified not only by farmers and city residents but also by scientific research that has identified that when cats were nearly eradicated from areas, local rat populations quickly multiplied causing potentially costly business or personal financial damages, community health worries and ecological concerns due rats preying upon other animal populations.  

Although the above contributions are significant to humankind, many would agree that a cat’s invaluable contribution to society is their caring and loving support toward their guardians.  Those that share their lives with cats know that they have a gentle touch, a calming purr, charming playful gestures, bask in the sun during long-lazy naps and are low maintenance ---- all attractive characteristics.  But don’t let these characteristics mislead your perception about them.  They are not lazy….they just know their own value and don’t need to brag about it!  

So, the next time you hug your cat or see a stray cat walking through your yard, you may want to say “Thank You” for your love and for naturally protecting our communities from costly rodent invasions.

This blog has been adapted from Yahoo News “What If All the Cats in the World Suddenly Died?”

Did you know?

All of our Hotel 4 Cat staff members are dedicated to ensuring a safe and enriched environment for our “guests”. This is especially enforced by our staff member, Mary Tomasello who is a Certified Feline Behavior Specialist by the Animal Behavior Institute. While servicing our guests she pays particular attention to their various forms of communication and behaviors to determine if their needs are being met. Our guests receive this special attention at no extra charge.

If you would like to learn more about Mary Tomasello’s personalized feline behavior consulting services, Heartfelt Feline Behavior Solutions, read more by clicking on this link