by Nomi Berger
Inquiring minds want to know: What is spraying and how do you keep your place smelling springtime fresh?
Quite simply, spraying is when your kitty leaves a small amount of urine on any surface in your home. Not always noticeable to the naked eye, these tiny spots are certainly detectable by their odor. Cat urine is extremely potent, and after repeated sprayings can travel deep into your carpets, upholstery or bedding, even penetrating hardwood floors.
Although spraying is most often associated with intact males, ALL cats can spray, and it’s mainly because they’re trying to “mark” their territory. It’s also their way of dealing with stress. Cats are creatures of habit and many react badly to even the slightest change in their environment — a new pet or a baby in the family, a cat guardian’s abrupt absence, a strange cat in the backyard, or environmental factors people simply don’t notice. Because they feel anxious, they attempt to relieve that anxiety by leaving behind their scent as their non-verbal way of meowing, “I’m feeling stressed.”
Medical problems, such as urinary tract infections or blockages, may also be the culprits, and any new or suspicious behavior on the part of your kitty should immediately be brought to the attention of your vet.
As for cleaning up after your kitty’s spraying, some experts suggest the following:
1) Locate the stains. Often the most difficult part of the process due to the small size of each stain, darken every room in your home, one by one, and use a black light (usually found in pet supply stores) to find all of the offending spots.
2) Spray each stain with an enzymatic cleaner. Using biological enzymes, these specially formulated cleaners work to break down the odor-causing phenomes in your cat’s urine and help to eliminate the smell altogether.
3) Use a vinegar solution. Once most of the urine from each stain has been cleaned, apply a solution of half-vinegar, half-water to the area. The vinegar will further mask any remaining odor and help prevent future spraying in the same spot.
4) Apply baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on each affected area to draw out any remaining moisture and/or urine that’s soaked deep into the fibers of your carpets or furniture.
5) Vacuum each treated spot. Wait about 15 minutes, then use a wet vac to vacuum everything up. If, however, you don’t have a wet vac, allow the baking soda to sit for a day or two before vacuuming. The baking soda will absorb any residual odors.