In this last segment of why cats miss the litter box blogs, we will look at the causes resulting from social issues.
Social issues tend to occur more rarely than other causes. It is normal for cats to mark. Cats do head and cheek rubbing, for example, on doorways and even on owners to show friendly associations. Cats also mark territory by clawing. They are leaving their scent from glands in their cheeks and paws. A third way to mark is by urine spraying. This is a normal behavior in cats which many owners would not expect. It is their calling card to indicate that they were there, to mark boundaries, and to announce sexual availability. Spraying involves leaving small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. The cat stands backed up to something, raises his tail, shakes it, and squirts a bit of urine straight back. Usually this is done by un-neutered males and even females, but 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayed females still spray. One recent study, shows far less of this in males neutered at the age of 5 months or younger. Urine spraying often is seen in multi-cat houses with more than 6 cats in response to the stress of social conflict with the other cats.
Cats can also spray due to anxiety. What makes a cat anxious? For unaltered cats their hormones can make them anxious to advertise themselves. There can be territorial issues that make cats anxious. Strange cats hanging around outside can upset your inside cats. Inside your house, multiple cats can make each other anxious as one shows more dominance over others. The bold cat wants to declare himself and the timid cat wants to reassure himself that he has a safe place to be, so he reassures himself with the scent of his own urine. Experts say that the incidence of house soiling may approach 100% in houses with more than 10 cats. New items or situations also can stimulate anxiety in cats. A new sofa or carpeting, for example, can set off insecure cats, as can a new baby or a new pet. A new person in the house may stimulate the cat to urinate on that person’s belongings. This often is interpreted mistakenly as “spite.” Even someone moving out of the house can prompt urine spraying.
Finally, cats can leave “presents” if they get upset over something an owner did. Case in point, when the owners leave for a vacation, your pet sitter may have the unsavory task of cleaning up the “present” left on your Ralph Lauren comforter.