2001-Mon Aug 21 17:50:53 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
It’s not unusual for me to hear from clients that their cats are angry or upset or just plain spiteful and are acting out — specifically by urinating on belongings or furnishings. “He's mad because I've been working late/traveling a lot/not coming home for lunch," they’ll say. Or, "I think she's jealous of my new lover/new baby/new roommate." In every case, these cat owners feel like they are being punished by their pets.
Folks, I’m here to tell you that cats aren’t spiteful. Cats are smart, for sure, but spite is a complex feeling that isn’t part of their emotional repertoire. But cats are easily stressed, and when stress enters their lives, they often respond in ways that are comforting to them but crazy-making to us.
Here’s how my late colleague veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin explained it:“One thing cats do when they’re stressed out is they urinate or they spray on things belonging to the owner, such as clothing or bedding. They choose things that smell like the owner because that’s where cats feel comfortable.”
It’s not unusual at all for cats to mark with urine when they’re faced with changes in their environment or other things that cause them stress. The most common places for them to mark in this way have some kind of social significance to them: owner possessions; laundry or closet areas, which carry strong scents of the owner; or just in prominent locations of the home, so they can make sure their message gets across.In addition, some cats will mark inside the house to make themselves feel more secure when they see strange cats outdoors. In these cases, the cats will often stand with their tail up and spray vertical surfaces, rather than crouching and urinating on horizontal surfaces.
Of course, this strategy has the unintentional effect of making you mad. And though it’s perfectly understandable to think that your cat is marking your stuff because he knows you don’t like it, in reality, your cat doesn’t know any such thing. He just knows that mingling his scent with yours makes him feel less stressed, whether that stress is caused by a new animal or person in the home or a change in your work or travel schedule.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.