How to Make Your Female Cat Stop Spraying

Unlike urinating outside the litter box, spraying is when urine is sprayed on vertical surfaces, like walls, doors, and furniture.  While most cat lovers know that male cats will spray urine to mark their territory, they may be surprised to learn that female cats (both spayed and unspayed) can also exhibit this behavior, although it is not as common in females. Female cat spraying can also be caused by stress, litter box issues or medical conditions.

The problem is, your cat doesn’t think that her urine smells bad. Spraying urine makes the cat feel more content. It gives her a sense of control and makes her feel more secure.

Intact cats are more than twice as likely to spray compared to spayed females. Spaying your female kitty can reduce the chances of female cat spraying, but it’s not a guarantee. Some spayed cats continue to exhibit this behavior.

Why Female Cats Spray

Regardless of its causes, female cat spraying can be difficult to deal with. If your cat is exhibiting this issue, it is up to you to investigate the problem and find out how to eliminate it.

There are many reasons for female cat spraying, including:

  • Changes in your cat’s environment
  • Increased levels of stress
  • Showing fertility to male cats
  • Too little playtime
  • Dietary changes
  • Changing the litter you use in the litter box
  • Neighborhood cats outside your home
  • Other cats in your home
  • Moving
  • Getting new furniture

Cats have an instinctive need to leave their scents. They can do this by scratching because the paw pads emit pheromones. They can also do this by rubbing their cheeks against an object because their cheeks also have scent glands. Spraying is another way that cats leave their scents behind to mark their territory. The behavior is completely instinctive, but it can also be caused by stress. If your cat has a conflict with another cat (either in your home or outside), or if there is a change in your cat’s routine, she may feel more anxious. Marking her territory helps to calm her.

To learn more about feline pheromones, go to What Are Cat Pheromones?

The more territorial your cat is, the more likely it is that she’ll mark her territory by spraying. Unneutered cats and cats living in multi-cat households are more likely to spray to mark their territory. And if one of your cats in a multi-cat home starts spraying, it is likely that others may do the same.

What You Can Do to Stop Spraying

If you’ve got a female cat that is spraying, there are certain steps you can take to help remedy the situation. To start with, make sure to thoroughly clean the area where the cat has sprayed. Use an enzyme-based cleaner. Regular household cleaners are not effective at removing urine odor and your cat will continue to smell the odor – even when you can’t. Also, don’t use cleaning products that contain ammonia because they can smell like urine to your cat.

Next, try to remove the trigger that is causing your cat’s anxiety. For instance, if you have multiple cats in your home, make sure that you provide multiple bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts and toys. If your cat has sprayed at a window, it could be that she sees another cat outside. Try covering the bottom part of the window to block your cat’s view.

Try to remove any other causes of stress in the home. Make sure to keep your routine the same. Give your cat plenty of things to keep her environment interesting, like cat trees and perches. Add more litter boxes or try to make your cat’s litter box more attractive by cleaning it more often or using different litter. Pheromone sprays can also help. They contain artificial forms of the chemical that is released by a cat’s cheek glands. Spray these pheromone sprays around the home and in the areas where your cat has already marked.

If you’ve tried everything and your cat is still spraying, see your veterinarian. It could be that your cat has a medical condition or that she needs some anti-anxiety medication.

To learn more about cat spraying, go to Cat Spraying: What Is It and How Do You Make It Stop?

Why Is My Neutered Cat Spraying?

Neutered cat spraying is a big problem for cat lovers. You may have neutered your cat with the expectation that it would stop him from spraying only to find that the behavior continues. It may take a month or so for your cat’s hormonal activity to calm down after neutering. But cat spraying is not always sexually related. So if the activity does not eventually stop, your cat may be marking due to other issues. Maybe urine marking has become a habit for your cat. Or your cat may be triggered from the scent of spots where he previously marked. Or, it could be that your cat is spraying because he is stressed.

Neutered cat spraying can be a difficult thing to deal with. While you find the behavior frustrating and offensive, your cat thinks it’s perfectly normal. Neutered cat spraying is often caused by stress. Spraying his scent onto a wall or piece of furniture helps to reassure the cat.

Why a Neutered Cat Sprays

Your neutered cat spraying may be caused by changes in your cat’s environment. Things, like moving to a new home or adding a new pet to the family, can be very disruptive and stressful to a cat – and spraying could be his reaction to this situation.

A neutered cat who sprays may also be marking his territory. This is especially true when there is an unspayed female or another male cat in the home that hasn’t been neutered. Your cat may even spray when he detects the presence of another cat outside your home.

Cat spraying could also be a response to litter box issues. Your cat may be unhappy with the type of litter you are using or he may not like the location of his litter box. Or, he could be reacting to litter box odors that you can’t even smell. So clean your cat’s litter box once or twice a day. Wash out the litter box and replace the litter once a week. Also, make sure that you have enough litter boxes in your home. You need one litter box per cat, plus one. Make sure that the litter box is located in a private, low-traffic area.

If your cat has marked in an area before, the scent of that previous marking may be triggering an urge to remark the territory. That’s why it’s so important to remove all traces of odor from the area. To locate all the areas where your cat has sprayed, use a black light. The urine will become fluorescent under the black light, indicating the areas where you need to clean.  Household soap and cleaners will not be enough to get rid of these powerful urine smells. Visit a pet supply store and purchase a cleaning product that is specially formulated to remove cat urine.

Your neutered cat may be spraying because he is stressed. To learn more about the causes of stress in cats and what you can do to help, go to 14 Things That Stress Cats Out!

Correcting Neutered Cat Spraying

Correcting cat spraying takes time, so be patient. Try to increase playtime with your cat, reduce stress and enrich your cat’s environment. In multi-cat households, provide high perches and cat trees to increase vertical space. Never punish your cat for spraying because that will only cause more stress and it could lead to even more spraying.

See your veterinarian and make sure that your cat’s spraying is not related to a health issue. Neutered male cats are prone to bladder and urinary tract problems. That’s because the male cat has a longer, slimmer urethra than a female cat. Neutering a male cat can narrow the urethra, even more, making blockages more likely. If your veterinarian rules out a medical cause for your cat’s spraying, ask for suggestions on how to better deal with the behavior. Your cat may need to be on an anti-anxiety medication.

To learn more about cat spraying, go to Cat Spraying: What Is It and How Do You Make It Stop?

Cat Spraying: What Is It and How Do You Make It Stop?

Cat spraying is a problem that can be difficult to deal with. All cats can spray, whether they are male or female, young or old, fixed or not fixed; however, it is more common with males than it is with females. Intact kitties are more likely to spray than other cats. The spray has an extremely unpleasant smell because it contains pheromones. Spray from intact males has a stronger odor than spray from a cat who has been fixed. And the probability of urine spraying indoors is directly related to the number of cats in the household.

In this article we are going to tell you why cats spray and what you can do to stop it.

First of all, what is cat spraying? Your cat backs up to a vertical surface with its tail lifted vertically and directs a small amount of urine in a fine spray from beneath its tail. You will notice an intense quivering movement of the tip of the tail, sometimes treading, and a look of intense concentration on your cat’s face. This is called spraying.

Cats use their urine as a means of communicating. Cats can learn a lot about other cats from their urine, including their age, their sex and their sexual availability. Intact male cats may spray to show that they are ready and on the lookout for girlfriends. They are telling other male cats to stay away. When an intact female cat sprays, their urine indicates where they are in their cycle.

Cats are territorial creatures by nature, and spraying is a way for them to show dominance. Both wild and domesticated cats will mark their territory by spraying urine or by leaving their feces uncovered. By doing this, they are sending a sign to other cats that this is their territory, so stay away. Spraying around doors and windows could indicate the presence of another cat outside.

Why Do Cats Spray?

Cat spraying can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Marking boundaries
  • A desire to mate
  • Indoor cats reacting to an outdoor cat in the neighborhood
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Difficulties adjusting to environmental changes
  • Conflict resolution

To learn more about why cats spray, go to Why Do Cats Spray?

So what can you do to stop cat spraying?

Neutering and spaying will usually resolve spraying behavior, but in some cases it will only reduce it.

If you have too many cats in too small a space there may be struggles for dominance. If it is possible to separate the cats, this may help to resolve the spraying.

Don’t yell or punish your cats for spraying. This will only cause your cat to feel more stressed and the behavior can escalate.

Clean the sprayed area thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner, then try to change your cat’s association with the sprayed area. Try placing toys or scratchers near the sprayed area. Place your cat’s food and water bowls in that area. Also, try using synthetic pheromones around the marked areas.

Reduce the competition in multi-cat households by providing more vertical territory, more scratchers and more hiding spaces. Make sure there are enough litter boxes in your home – one per cat, plus one. Spread the litter boxes in different areas of the house.

If you add a new kitty to your household, keep him separated from your cat and introduce him slowly.

Anxiety issues like overcrowding, dominance, unpleasant noises, loneliness and changes in the home environment can cause a cat to become anxious and result in spraying. Try to give your cat a happy, interesting environment with cat trees, climbing posts, scratchers, window beds and toys. To learn more about creating an interesting environment for your cat, go to Is Your Indoor Cat bored? 12 ways to Prevent Boredom.

Why Is My Neutered Cat Spraying?

Neutered cat spraying is a big problem for cat lovers. You may have neutered your cat with the expectation that it would stop him from spraying only to find that the behavior continues. It may take a month or so for your cat’s hormonal activity to calm down after neutering. But cat spraying is not always sexually related. So if the activity does not eventually stop, your cat may be marking due to other issues. Maybe urine marking has become a habit for your cat. Or your cat may be triggered from the scent of spots where he previously marked. Or, it could be that your cat is spraying because he is stressed.

Neutered cat spraying can be a difficult thing to deal with. While you find the behavior frustrating and offensive, your cat thinks it’s perfectly normal. Neutered cat spraying is often caused by stress. Spraying its scent onto a wall or piece of furniture helps to reassure the cat.

Symptoms and Causes of Nausea in Cats

Nausea in cats is a very common condition. It can occur on its own or just prior to the act of vomiting. In humans, nausea is also referred to as “feeling sick to your stomach” or “queasy” and is associated with a feeling of discomfort and unease in the stomach. In cats, nausea is harder to define, as animals can’t tell you they feel unwell. In many occasions, it is unclear that there is an issue until the cat vomits. The most common symptoms of nausea in cats are lack of appetite, licking, excessive chewing, hypervocalization (excessive meowing), restlessness, and drooling. Nausea can make cats feel uncomfortable and restless. Some cats will pace around while meowing while others will lie in the same spot drooling.

Overview of Feline Nausea

Nausea is a nonspecific symptom, which means there are many different possible causes. These causes can include an upset stomach, changes in diet, eating something indigestible, eating too fast, overeating, eating something that is spoiled or unpleasant, licking something with an unpleasant taste (such as cleaning chemicals or topical flea prevention products), motion sickness, and certain medications.

A number of diseases or conditions can also cause nausea in cats, especially disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines). Nausea can be secondary to a disease from a different system such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or various infectious diseases. This can make the diagnosis of the cause of the nausea a challenge.

At one time or another, your cat may have a bout of vomiting before which he probably had a period of nausea. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem or it may be a sign of something very serious.

An occasional, infrequent, isolated episode of nausea with or without vomiting is usually normal and not a reason for major concern.

The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the specific diagnostic tests your vet will recommend. Important considerations include the duration and frequency of the nausea. If your cat vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement, and acts playful, the problem may resolve on its own. If nausea and vomiting continue after your cat eats your cat acts lethargic or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.

Nausea in Cats – What to Watch For:

Signs of nausea in cats often include:

Nausea may also be associated with:

  •  Vomiting
  •  Dry heaving
  •  Dehydration due to persistent vomiting
  •  Abnormal behavior or physical abnormalities associated with prolonged vomiting including lethargy (reluctance to move), abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, blood in the vomit, or other unexpected physical changes

Diagnosis of Nausea in Cats

Administering the optimal therapy for any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of nausea and subsequent vomiting and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause and direct the initial therapy towards resolving it.

Diagnostic measures and tests may include:

  • A review of your cat’s complete medical history and a physical examination, including abdominal palpation. The medical history assessment will most likely include questions regarding vaccination history, diet, appetite, general health, presence and character of vomitus (frequency, progression, presence of blood, duration of vomiting), weight loss, past medical problems, medication history and presence of other gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend a variety of laboratory tests including a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemical panel, and a urinalysis.
  • Fecal examination (to determine the presence of parasites or blood).
  • Plain radiography (X-rays) or contrast X-rays (X-rays performed after your cat is given a contrast material such as barium or aqueous iodine), which can help determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that allows visualization of abdominal structures by recording reflection (echoes) of inaudible sound waves to determine the size and shape of abdominal organs, it can also detect changes in the consistency or texture of organs.
  • Endoscopy may be useful for diagnosis or to remove foreign bodies in the stomach. Endoscopy can also be used for examination of the stomach and a portion of the intestine and to potentially obtain biopsies of abnormal areas noted during the exam.

Treatment of Nausea in Cats

Common treatments for feline nausea may include one or more of the following:

  • A primary strategy is eliminating the predisposing cause (such as a change in diet), eating plants, overeating, eating too fast, ingesting chemicals including flea prevention medications, etc.). Patients who eat too quickly or overeat can be treated by feeding small portions at a time, sometimes with the use of feeders designed to slow eating.
  • An acute episode of nausea with or without vomiting in a playful cat, in the absence of other physical abnormalities, may be treated symptomatically without hospitalization (outpatient treatment). This treatment may consist of subcutaneous fluids, injectable drugs used to control nausea and vomiting (anti-emetics), and a follow-up appointment if the symptoms are not resolved immediately. A drug commonly used to treat nausea is Maropitant (commonly known by the brand name Cerenia).  This drug comes in both injectable and oral forms. Many times a cat is given an injection and sent home with the oral pills.
  • Cats that have abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or have any other unusual symptoms or behaviors may be treated with hospitalization. This therapy may include intravenous fluid administration, 24-hour monitoring, and drug therapy. It is often combined with diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Sick cats may require referral to an emergency or 24-hour hospital that offers around-the-clock care.

Learn more about what you can do at home for the vomiting cat.

How to Transition to Managing Old Cat Behavior

Today you can expect your cat to live a longer life than in the past. While some cats live into their twenties, most cats live to be 16 or 17 years of age.

Cats are like people. We are all unique and not all of us will age at the same rate. Your cat may begin to display old cat behavior as early as 7 years of age or as late as 10 years of age – most will change by age 12 at the latest.

What is old cat behavior and how will you be best prepared to manage it?

Normal aging brings about changes in behavior. Old cat behavior includes being less active, playing less, sleeping more, grooming less, eating less heartily, and reacting less to surrounding events. Older cats may experience a disturbance in sleep patterns or disorientation. Suddenly your older cat begins forgetting previously learned behaviors, like the location of the litter box. These changes can cause a lot of anxiety and your cat may react in many different ways. Your cat may begin to display aggression or change its social relationships with other household members.

Feline cognitive dysfunction or FCD can begin as early as 11 years of age, affecting memory, sight, hearing and much more. Typical signs of FCD can be described by the acronym DISH.

  • D – Disorientation – Your senior cat may wander aimlessly and appear lost or confused at times. He may fail to recognize family members.
  • I – Reduced Social Interactions – Your cat may no longer greet people warmly or seek their attention as often.
  • S – Changes in Sleep-Wake Cycle – Your cat may sleep more during the daytime but wander aimlessly at night, perhaps crying out.
  • H – Loss of House Training – Breakdown of house training can occur because your cat forgets where the litter box is, or is no longer concerned about personal hygiene.

To learn more about old cat behavior, go to Behavior of the Senior Cat.

Why Increased Urination in Cats Happens

As our cat’s age, they tend to urinate more often, and sometimes they urinate outside the litter box. Incontinence or weak bladder is age-related. The bladder weakens with age, resulting in more frequent urination. Essentially, your cat will urinate as soon as pressure builds up in the bladder – and often, that can mean urinating outside the litter box.

Increased urination in cats is normal with age. It often results from diseases that are common to aging felines, like kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Increased urination in cats is often an early sign of diabetes in older or overweight cats. But don’t just assume that your cat’s more frequent urination is a sign of old age. If you have concerns, see your veterinarian. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, or kidney disease.

More frequent urination will cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly. Many cats will stop using the litter box when they encounter a buildup of soil or odor. So increased urination in cats often means urinating outside the litter box. To help keep your cat from urinating outside the litter box, make sure to keep the litter box as clean as possible. Clean the litter box daily, or more often if necessary. To learn more about dealing with a cat urinating outside the litter box, go to How Do You Deal with a Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box.

Arthritis is another condition that can contribute to urinating outside the litter box. Older cats can suffer from arthritis pain that makes it difficult for them to access the litter box. When this happens, they will simply find an “easier” place to go. Get a litter box with lower sides that is more easily accessible to your older cat.

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, here are some things that you can try. Increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Make sure there’s one on every floor in case your cat is experiencing discomfort going up and down the stairs. Put the new litter boxes in areas where your cat can easily find them. Many cats also have trouble getting into and out of the litter box when they get older, so use litter boxes that have low sides. To learn more about increased urination in cats, go to Why Increased Urination Happens in Cats.

Here’s Why Your Cat Wants Attention More Often

Sometimes an older cat can become more needy. If your senior cat wants attention more often, she can show it in many different ways. Your cat may become more vocal. She may follow you around or brush up against your legs. If you are working at the computer or reading the newspaper, she may sit in front of the computer screen or on the keyboard, or she may jump up and sit on top of your newspaper. Essentially she is saying look at me! Pay attention to me!

Why Increased Urination in Cats Happens

Often the most important aspect of helping your cat is detecting any problems at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be successful. Cats are masters at masking signs of illness, pain and other problems. This is especially true with changes in cat urination frequency. Increased urination in cats can happen at any age and for many reasons. However, if your cat is urinating more than usual it can be a symptom of several serious diseases or conditions.

Conditions That May Cause Increased Urination in Cats

Your cat may have a urinary tract infection, which is painful and uncomfortable for your cat. Increased urination in cats can be caused by diabetes or kidney failure. To learn more about kidney failure, go to Chronic Kidney Failure in Cats.

Hyperthyroidism is also a cause of increased urination in cats. Your cat’s metabolism speeds up, which impacts the kidneys. This condition causes increased thirst, which leads to increased urination. While hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed in cats from age 4 to age 20+, the disease is most often seen in older cats. In fact, 95 percent of cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism are at least 8 years of age. To learn more about hyperthyroidism, go to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Only your veterinarian can determine the reason for increased urination in cats, so see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Older Cats and Increased Urination

Increased urination in cats can also be a sign of old age. As cats get older it becomes harder for them to maintain bladder control. As our cats age, they tend to urinate more often, and they don’t always make it to the litter box. Sometimes they urinate outside the litter box. Incontinence or weak bladder is age related. The bladder weakens with age, resulting in more frequent urination. Essentially, your cat will urinate as soon as pressure builds up in the bladder – and often, that can mean urinating outside the litter box.

Increased urination in cats is normal with age. It often results from diseases that are common to aging felines, like kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Increased urination in cats is often an early sign of diabetes in older or overweight cats. But don’t just assume that your cat’s more frequent urination is a sign of old age. If you have concerns, see your veterinarian. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, or kidney disease.

The Litter Box and Increased Urination

More frequent urination will cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly. Many cats will stop using the litter box when they encounter a buildup of soil or odor. So increased urination in cats often means urinating outside the litter box. To help keep your cat from urinating outside the litter box, make sure to keep the litter box as clean as possible. Clean the litter box daily, or more often if necessary. To learn more about dealing with a cat urinating outside the litter box, go to How Do You Deal with a Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box.

Arthritis is another condition that can contribute to urinating outside the litter box. Older cats can suffer from arthritis pain that makes it difficult for them to access the litter box. When this happens, they will simply find an “easier” place to go. Get a litter box with lower sides that is more easily accessible to your older cat.

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, here are some things that you can try. Increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Make sure there’s one on every floor in case your cat is experiencing discomfort going up and down the stairs. Put the new litter boxes in areas where your cat can easily find them. Many cats also have trouble getting into and out of the litter box when they get older, so use litter boxes that have low sides.

For more information about litter box avoidance, check out The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box.

Here’s Why Your Older Cat Wants Attention More Often

Sometimes an older cat can become more needy. If your senior cat wants attention more often, she can show it in many different ways. Your cat may become more vocal. Vocalization is a form of communication for cats, so listen to your cat and pay attention to what she is saying. Your cat’s meow is generally a call for attention of some sort. It’s good to engage in some cat talk and to give your cat the extra attention she seeks. If you’ve ever wondered what your cat is trying to say to you, check out this article – Understanding “Cat Talk” – What is Your Kitty Saying?

When Your Older Cat Wants More Attention

If your cat wants to show her affection for you, she may follow you around or brush up against your legs. One of the most affectionate displays is when a cat will rub its head on their human companions. This friendly, aroma-sharing gesture enables a feline to reinforce a positive relationship and mark you with her scent as she releases pheromones that signal comfort and familiarity. This is a loving signal that your cat wants your attention. To learn more about the ways our cats show us they love us, go to 7 Signs Your Cat Actually Adores You.

If you are working at the computer or reading the newspaper, your cat may sit in front of the computer screen or on the keyboard, or she may jump up and sit on top of your newspaper while you are reading. She may stare at you incessantly. Essentially she is saying, “Look at me! Pay attention to me!” When this happens, you should take some time to show affection to your kitty. Stop what you are doing for a few minutes. Pet her and talk to her and let her know that you love her. If it is possible for you to take a break, see if your kitty wants to play with you.

Tricks Older Cats Use To Get Your Attention

Another trick cats use to get attention is to reach out and push something off the countertop with their paw. Cats usually do this when we are there to watch it happen. If your attention is focused elsewhere, your cat may just reach out with its paw and swipe at an item, pushing it off the table to the floor. This is your cat’s way of saying, “Hey, look at me! Play with me!”

Cat Talk: Your cat will tell you what he needs through vocalization.

If your cat wants attention, he will find a way to show you. Your cat may become more clingy as he ages, wanting to be with you every moment of the day or night. If your cat has lost some of his sensory perception, being with his human companion may be a stabilizing influence in his daily life. To learn more about caring for a senior cat go to How to Transition to Managing Old Cat Behavior.

If your senior cat still likes to play, you should engage in play as often as he is willing. This is a great way to give your cat the attention he seeks and the activity will help to keep his aging body healthy.

While some older cats become more aloof and less interactive, others become more needy. They seem to crave more attention. If your senior cat wants attention, make sure to give it to her. Give her plenty of lap time and talk to her sweetly. Show her that she is important to you. If she still likes to play, get one of her favorite toys and play together. Show your older cat plenty of love and affection and she will be happy.

To learn more about old cat behavior, go to Behavior of the Senior Cat.

Aging Pets: How to Handle Changes in Cat Behavior

Owners of senior cats often notice a change in cat behavior but they simply chalk it up to getting older. Failure to use the litter box, a change in activity levels, and changes in eating, drinking or sleeping can definitely be attributed to old age… but is there something else going on? It would be a mistake to simply attribute these changes to aging without first investigating the possibility of an underlying medical condition. Always see your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your older cat.

Changes in Senior Cat Behavior: What to Look For?

As your cat ages, you should be aware of any changes in behavior, mood or activity. Just like people, older cats become less mentally and physically active. This can be attributed to aging changes that take place in the brain as well as physical factors such as joint stiffness. A change in cat behavior could be a signal that something else is going on.

You may notice your older cat sleeping more than usual. Cats will usually sleep between 16 to 18  hours per day. If your cat is 10 years of age or older, he may sleep between 18 to 21 hours per day. It is natural for your cat to sleep more as he ages.

As your cat ages, bending and moving may become more difficult. This can be related to arthritis or another condition. To learn more about arthritis in cats, go to Arthritis in Cats: Does Your Cat Have Arthritis?

Your cat may have more difficulty jumping up to places that he likes to go, like the bed or his favorite window sill. When this happens you should provide a ramp or a set of kitty stairs so your cat can continue to do the things that make him happy.

Keeping Your Senior Cat Active and Happy

In spite of mobility problems, it is important that your senior cat continues to exercise. To keep your cat interested in play, continue engaging in interactive play sessions. Just reduce the length of time your cat exercises and increase the frequency of your play sessions. For example, if you played twice a day for 20 minutes at a time, play four times a day for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. If your senior cat does not see as well, roll a ball with a bell for him to chase. If your cat enjoys catnip, leave a catnip toy out for him to play with as he wishes.

In most cases, cats can be considered senior when they are between seven and ten years old.

If moving becomes painful, your cat may wash himself less often. It will be up to you to offer more grooming assistance as your cat ages to help him maintain a clean, soft coat. With age, your cat may be less able to cough up hairballs, so regular brushing will help keep them from forming. If your older cat resists being combed or brushed, use a soft-bristled brush or a grooming glove. Pet wipes will help you to keep his coat clean. If your senior cat uses his scratching post less often, you will need to clip his nails to keep them from becoming ingrown. To learn more about grooming your senior cat, go to Grooming Your Senior Cat – Special Concerns.

A normal change in cat behavior with older cats may be that they do not want to be picked up as often. This could be because he is experiencing joint pain or his muscles are stiff. On the other hand, some senior cats become more clingy with age, wanting to be with their human every second of the day or night. All cats are different. Take your cue from your cat and give them the comfort and security they need.

Senior Cat: Litter Box Issues

Age-related problems may make your cat avoid the litter box. Mobility issues may make it difficult for your cat to navigate stairs in order to access his litter box, and he may have problems climbing into the box. To help prevent these litter box issues, make the litter box more accessible to your kitty. Put the box in a location where your cat will not have to climb or descend stairs to get to it. Also, find a litter box with lower sides to make it easier to access. Age-related illnesses like diabetes or kidney problems may cause your cat to urinate more often. That means you will have to clean the box more often to keep it clean and appealing. For more information about litter box avoidance, check out The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box.

Vet Tips for Elderly Cat Care

As we age our bodies change. The same thing is true for our cats.

What do you need to know about elderly cat care? As your cat changes, so do physical and emotional needs. Ideally, elderly cat care should focus on preventative measures. Whenever possible, it is better to prevent a problem from occurring rather than to wait for a problem to develop. Detecting diseases in the early stages greatly improve the outcome.

What to be Aware of as Your Cat Ages

As your cat ages, she may lose weight. This can be part of the normal aging process, but it can also be a sign of a medical problem like cancer, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or something else. Changes in weight can be the first sign of disease, so don’t take chances with your senior cat. If you notice any significant changes contact your veterinarian.

Elderly cat care should include regular visits to your veterinarian. Your senior cat is at risk for several medical problems as she ages, which is why she needs periodic exams to stay healthy. Some of the most common illnesses known to afflict older cats include nutritional problems, dental disease, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, skin tumors, and cancer. Other concerns with elderly cats include liver diseases and anemia. To learn more about possible disorders with your senior cat, go to 10 Common Disorders of Senior Cats.

As your cat ages, your veterinarian will help to monitor any changes along the way. Most vets recommend a checkup every six months. Have your cat’s hearing and eyesight checked. It’s not unusual for a senior cat’s eyes to look cloudy. But like humans, your senior cat can develop cataracts and glaucoma. Your senior cat can also develop hearing loss. Your cat may have hearing or eyesight problems if he seems surprised when you come close, if he bumps into things, or if he doesn’t come when you call him.

Senior Cats and Nutrition

Remember that elderly cat care includes good nutrition. As your cat ages, her metabolism slows down and your older cat will require fewer daily calories. Make sure that your senior cat is eating well. There is no one best food to feed to a senior cat – the best food depends on your cat’s specific problems or nutritional requirements. Most foods for older cats are lower in protein, sodium, and phosphorus to help their aging hearts and kidneys. Increased amounts of certain vitamins have also been found to be beneficial in the senior cat.

Keep your senior cat active. Provide moderate exercise to help maintain muscle tone, to keep his heart and digestion healthy, and to improve his attitude.

Cat Obesity: A Growing Epidemic

In 2016, 58.9% of cats were classified as clinically overweight or obese.

Obesity is a problem to be taken seriously. It directly correlates to a decreased longevity and may contribute to other problems like diabetes and arthritis. According to the Pet Obesity Organization 2016 Pet Survey, over 50 million cats are clinically overweight or obese.

The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age. Most owners don’t recognize that their cats are overweight until they take them to the veterinarian for another reason. To learn more about how to tell if your cat is overweight, go to Is Your Cat Too Fat.

If your senior cat has arthritis, there are some things you can do to help. Consider buying a set of pet stairs to help your cat more easily access the bed or sofa. Give your senior cat a soft yet supportive place to sleep. Consider a good glucosamine supplement. To learn more about arthritis in cats, go to Arthritis in Cats: Does Your Cat Have Arthritis

As a rule, cats don’t like change, and this is especially true for older cats. Your senior cat is set in her ways. Stick to a regular schedule. Feed your cat at the same time every day. Cats love a routine, and they will appreciate it even more as they age. Any changes in daily routine, schedules or environment will cause undue stress. Stress can weaken your cat’s immune system and make her more susceptible to disease, so keep change to a minimum.

Cats are good at hiding illness and this is just as true for elderly cats. Diseases can be treated with better outcomes when they are caught early so it is important to carefully monitor your senior cat’s behavior and health, and to have regular checkups with your veterinarian.

FIP in Cats

FIP in cats is an abbreviation for “Feline Infectious Peritonitis”. This is a disease caused by mutation of a virus called the feline coronavirus, commonly abbreviated in literature as FCoV.  FIP in cats is fairly uncommon, affecting less than 1% of cats. However, once the virus mutates, it is generally a progressive and ultimately fatal disease.

FIP in cats is most common in cats 6 months to 2 years of age with a slightly higher distribution in male cats. Certain purebred cats also have a higher incidence including Asian breeds such as Himalayan and Birman cats.

Below we will discuss what is FIP in cats, signs of FIP, FIP symptoms, if FIP is contagious, and give you information on the FIP vaccine.

What is FIP in Cats?

FIP in cats is a disease caused by a mutated coronavirus. Feline coronavirus is commonly present in the intestines of cats.  In fact, it is estimated that approximately half of the cats in single cat households have the virus. It is even more common in multi-cat environments e.g. catteries where it is estimated that up to 90% of cats may have coronavirus.

Most cats that have coronavirus live a normal life. However, it is estimated that 5% of cats with coronavirus will go on to develop FIP. In this small percentage of cats, the virus mutates into a pathogenic and harmful virus that causes a variety of problems that we will discuss below under “Signs of FIP in Cats”. This only happens in some cats and the cause is uncertain but is most likely related to the cats’ immune system.

It is important to understand that FIP in cats is NOT transmitted from one cat to another. This can be confusing to some pet owners. The coronavirus CAN be transmitted from cat to cat, but FIP CANNOT be transmitted from one cat to another.

Once a cat has been exposed to coronavirus, 95% will have a normal life. When the coronavirus mutates in the other 5% this is what causes FIP.

What are the Signs of FIP in Cats?

There are two forms of FIP in cats. The first form is called effusive (also known as wet or feline coronavirual polyserositis) FIP and second is called non-effusive (also known as dry or granulomatous) FIP. It is possible for cats to get both forms of the disease.  Signs of FIP in cats generally develop over weeks to months.

 

The signs of FIP in cats will depend on which form of FIP they acquire.  When the virus mutates, generally one of two things happen. Sometimes the virus affects the blood vessels which is what happens with the “wet” form, or the cat develops granulomatous lesions which is what occurs in the “dry” form of FIP.

 

With the wet form of FIP, cats develop vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) which causes abnormal fluid accumulations. If the fluid accumulation occurs in the chest (also known as a pleural effusion), common signs are trouble breathing. If the fluid accumulation occurs in the abdomen (commonly referred to as ascites), the abdomen can become distended. The excessive abdominal fluid is uncomfortable and causes signs such as nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Most pet owners don’t notice the distended abdomen but will take their cats to the vet for trouble breathing or the signs that result from abdominal distension.

 

The dry form of FIP in cats causes granulomatous lesions to various organs including the eyes, skin, and/or nervous system.  A granuloma is a collection of immune cells that form in response to the virus and can be found with many different diseases. The granuloma creates lesions on the skin, in the eye, or nervous system that cause associated signs of FIP. For example, if granuloma forms in the brain, a cat may have trouble walking, be off balance, develop head tremors, and/or seizure just to name a few possibilities.

Many cats with FIP will also have a fever and eventually become anemic (pale).

What are the Symptoms of FIP in Cats?

FIP symptoms in cats may include any or all of the following:

  •   Fever
  •   Lethargy
  •   Depression
  •   Loss of appetite
  •   Weight loss
  •   Vomiting
  •   Diarrhea
  •   Unkempt appearance
  •   Trouble breathing or difficult breathing
  •   Distended abdomen (ascites)
  •   Jaundice (yellow color of the skin, eyes, ears, nose or gums)
  •   Pale gums
  •   Trouble walking or unsteady walking (ataxia)
  •   Seizures or paralysis with nervous system involvement
  •   Eye abnormalities

FIP Symptoms Kittens

FIP symptoms in kittens can be the same as those in adult cats. Some kittens with FIP will appear lethargic and fail to thrive relative to their littermates. They tend to sleep more, play less, appear lethargic, sometimes vomit or not eat, and overall fail to grow like a normal kitten. When the wet form is present, it can be more common to see a profoundly distended abdomen.

Is FIP Contagious?

The question “is FIP contagious” is a common and important one. As mentioned above, the cause of FIP is an abnormal mutation of the coronavirus. Coronavirus is contagious cat to cat, but FIP is NOT contagious cat to cat.