ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: I have indoor cats. One of the black cats, Toby, has gotten aggressive with the others and he started to spray about six months ago. I have never had this happen before so I am not sure what to do or where to go. I have used Nature’s Miracle everywhere. There have been no changes in the house, so I am just not sure why all of a sudden this is happening.
Dr. Nichol: We frown on cats decorating our walls, don’t we? Actually, nobody is having fun at your house. Toby’s aggression and urine spraying are manifestations of his angst, a problem that’s been simmering in your multi-cat household for a while. Any minor stress, perhaps visits from outdoor cats, may have caused him to lose his grip.
Start by having Toby examined. A urinalysis would be valuable, but be aware that infections cause only about 2 percent of feline urinary symptoms. Bladder stones and crystals, on the other hand, afflict as many as 42 percent of cats who pass small amounts of sometimes bloody urine. An abdominal x-ray would the better diagnostic investment.
Indoor cats can feel crowded and anxious. Everybody, including the urine sprayer, sometimes needs to get away from the throng to be a solitary cat. Your job is to make the inside of your house a wonderland of natural feline activities and amusements. Go to my website, drjeffnichol.com, for the list of Feline Environmental Enrichments.
You can further reduce the tension in your home by promoting good bathroom etiquette. You want your kitties to have a fresh place to eliminate whenever the whim strikes. Provide as many big, open litter pans as you have cats, plus one more. Scoop the clumping litter twice daily; dump and wash the pans weekly.
The faint scent of old urine is another important stressor. Nature’s Miracle is a good enzymatic cleaner. Anti-Icky Poo and Zero Odor, in my experience – actually, in my patients’ experience – are even better.
Finally, Royal Canin Calm diet can make a difference. Do whatever it takes. The wellbeing of every creature in your house depends on it.
Each week, Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.