Thursday, May 14, 2009

Problem With Cat Marking

From Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach

My cat has recently started marking in the house. He’s a four-year-old indoor cat and has never done this before. The vet couldn’t find anything physically wrong with him. My husband is fed up and wants the cat to go. He’s such a wonderful cat. I don’t want to get rid of him.

There’s probably been a change somewhere in this cat’s life that has made him start marking around the house. Often a new carpet, new furniture, new animal, or a new person in the house can start this type of behavior. The change makes the cat feel the need to mark in order to announce that this is his territory.

If no obvious changes have been made inside the house, check around outside. There may be a new cat in town that started this cycle. Although your cat is an indoor cat, he may have seen the new cat from a window. Look for signs outside that a cat may have marked bushes or the side of your house. Your cat may be keenly aware of this new visitor and wants to make it clear this is HIS house. If this is the case, block his view of the outside for a while and take steps to discourage the visitor cat from coming around. Put tin foil around bushes near windows and the front door so the cat will not want to go to those areas. If you actually see the cat, you can squirt him with a squirt bottle and hiss to discourage his visits. You don’t need to drench him, just give him the idea that he’s not welcome.

Thoroughly clean any areas where your cat has marked inside. Be sure to use a cleaner without ammonia. Put tin foil in those areas to discourage your cat from going back. Add another cat box to the house to give him some options for elimination. This is a problem that can be stopped with some patience and consistency. Ask your husband for a little more time. After all, this cat is just doing what comes naturally to him. He deserves the opportunity to learn a different behavior that is more acceptable to the humans in his life.

The number one reason for relinquishment of cats to shelters is for elimination problems that could be solved. Don’t give up on this little guy quite yet. For more ideas on cat elimination problems, log on to and click on “Behavior Issues” or call Cheryl at 434-591-6113.

Private sessions are available to help find solutions to behavior problems. People owe it to their animal companions to try everything before relinquishing them to a shelter for behavior problems.

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