Frequently Asked Behavioral Questions

Spraying/Marking Problems


I’m asking for help or suggestions with a neutered male Blue Persian. I cannot get him to stop marking and spraying all over my house and the clincher was when he sprayed ME while I was in bed. I’m about to give him up but thought I would ask here since there are no “no-kill” shelters in my area and it would break my heart. I really want to keep him but am at my absolute limits with him.

He has sprayed on my toaster (yes – I had to buy a new one!), my stove, counter tops, dish rack, you name it – I think he’s sprayed there. I am at my wits end with Smokey. I do have other cats in the house, all neutered, including 2 Blue Point Himmies, all cats are neutered (the females never seem to show up at my house – just males…) and I don’t have this problem with any other cat, just Smokey.

Does any one have any suggestions or advice for me? I’m desperate at this point and near tears from the damage and mess.


One of my cats sprayed the toaster oven and it gave off an awful smell when we turned it on without realizing it. The new toaster oven is put away to reduce temptation. He also sprayed me. I was chasing him around with the squirt bottle because I knew he was looking for a place to spray, and I got him a few times. I bent over to put it away and he jumped on the counter and sprayed me. I was surprised but not really mad since I figured he was only doing to me what I was doing to him. All that was a preface so that you know you are not alone.

Spraying does not generally respond to behavior modification alone unless there is a clear cut reason for it such as a cat spraying the doors and windows because of a cat outside. The option that most behaviorists recommend is medication with some behavior mod to augment it. In a recent article in Catnip about spraying, Dr. Nicholas Dodman is quoted as saying that Prozac can cause a dramatic turnaround in spraying. He said that it works so well and so quickly that he doesn’t recommend anything else at present. If you don’t have access to this article and want a copy to show your vet, please send me your mailing address and I will send it to you.


I am seeking advice/referral, foster home, or sanctuary that can help with this beautiful, show quality red male I rescued. He is a 2 year old neutered male. He has had full exam, fecal, FIV/FLV test, vaccinations, etc. He continues to poop in my bathtub. He is urinating in the box every time. He has 2 brand new litter boxes, and is currently isolated in my large master bath. I don’t know what to do because he can’t be adopted out like this….and it’s not fair to him to spend his life in a bathroom!


For some reason he prefers to defecate on a smooth surface. I suggest putting an empty litter box or two in the bathtub or right beside it. I would buy two new ones with the shiny plastic surface. Block the surface area of the tub so he must use a box. See if he will go in one of them. If yes, then remove one box to see if he will still use the box versus the tub. Gradually move it away from the bathtub to the corner. If he regresses go back to where he was doing okay for a while before trying the next move again. The new boxes are in addition to the ones you already have. Keep those in place. More is always better with litter boxes when there is a problem.

Also, can you block your tub or put water in it as a deterrent. If you had glass doors installed you can block off the tub, but you still need to make sure he is using the box before you try to place him. Is there any possibility he is marking from anxiety? Maybe a mild anxiolytic like amitriptylline will help him adjust.

Improper Elimination – Not Using the Litterbox


The following is in response to a question regarding a twelve year old cat who had always been an indoor cat until recently when she started urinating outside the litter box. The cat’s guardian was advised by friends to let her outside to improve the situation


Here is what I would do with Moose. Confine her to a crate – a large dog crate is ideal. Put two litter boxes in there with unscented scoopable litter. Instead of using regular litter boxes though, buy two small Rubbermaid dishpans and put them side by side. Put her food and water at the other end and there should be room left for her bed or sleeping pad. Leave the radio on a soothing station like classical while you are not there. Put the crate in a room that you can use to expand her territory once she is using the litter box consistently, like a bathroom or spare bedroom. The room should be fairly small though. Once she is using the boxes consistently you can open the crate and let her out in the room. However, even if she starts using them from the start, keep her confined for a week. You can take her out for short periods of cuddling, grooming or play, two or three times a day, but then back in the crate. Try to give her attention equivalent or greater than what she received before confinement. She should not view this as punishment. Do not leave her unattended outside the crate, even for a minute to answer the phone etc. Don’t think this is cruel, it is behavior modification, and environment control, and if she were surrendered to a shelter she would be in a smaller cage for at least a week during quarantine and acclimation. After the week of good habits open the door and let her out for supervised periods and give her lots of attention, then back in the crate at night and when you are not at home. As time goes by and she is being good you can expand her territory. If she slips, go back to whatever level she was at before the slip i.e. if she slips after you let her into the house go back to room confinement. These steps should be gradual and always under close supervision when gaining the next level. Always keep two boxes available to her and even consider adding two more on additional levels of the house that she frequents. Stop letting her outside, even if she is doing well in the house. She is too old to be going out and it won’t help her problem.

I have never had a Persian or Himalayan but I have heard that these breeds are prone to litter box problems. You might search for a breed rescue on the internet for Himalayans and see if they have any specific advice as well.

Another thing that I have used for various reasons and especially when confining a cat is Rescue Remedy. You can put it in the water or directly on the cat’s tongue. Use it consistently. It is very mild and sometimes the effects are subtle, but they are there. You can get this in a health food store and it is also available from various online sources.

Don’t give up on Moose. Her behavior is her way of communicating. It is up to us humans to figure out what our kitties are trying to tell us.

Why is it taking my cats so long to get along?


In this situation an adult cat and a kitten were adopted from the shelter at the same time.

Sabrina does not seem happy, and does not like the kitten, Rainbow. I’m beginning to think she was meant to be an only cat. 

It’s surprising that she’s so snappy since they both were brought home at the same time, it’s not as if she lost territory.  She’s taken to trying to get out when we open the door to exit or enter, and I don’t believe she was ever an outdoor cat.  She’s eating and using the litter box with no trouble at all, which is a good sign.  Do you think she might come around, there’s absolutely no evidence of it.  In her biography it says she’s used to noise, kids and other pets, any suggestions as to how we can help her?  We shower both of our kitties with affection.  Any thoughts are appreciated.  Thanks.


I would just give her some more time to adjust. Sabrina went from a home to a shelter in Gardner to our shelter in Lunenburg. She just needs to be sure she won’t be abandoned. Patience and time will work wonders. My newest cat was a holy terror for the first month, but we gave her unconditional love and corrected her when she got out of hand and now she’s a great cat to have around. Sabrina is a really nice kitty. She does like to sit on laps, so maybe you could spend some TV time with her and have Rainbow be held by someone else in the meantime.

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