Imagine, if you dare, that you lack the ability to speak. You turn the corner into the living room of your home and there sits another mute person in your favorite spot on the couch. Neither of you posses much in the way of social skills or empathy, and you’re both hilariously neurotic, so this is… Awkward. All you need in your life is to communicate to the person is that you would like them to move, like, you know, in a forever kind of way, because that particular cushion has been seasoned to perfection by you, for you. How do you articulate this?
If you’re a cat, you back yourself up to a low hanging curtain or bookshelf and you spray.
Cats aren’t social creatures like dogs or humans, so they’ve evolved alternate manners of sharing information that doesn’t necessitate close personal contact (gross). If they’re seeking a mate, feeling territorial, or are stressed out, they can give other cats the skinny by spraying. This happens through the same physiological channels as urination, but the spray is composed of urine laced with chemicals that other cats will recognize as a message (and you’ll recognize as stinky). As if that isn’t bad enough, your cat can get stressed out by any small change in routine or minor upset in the home, like if you’ve taken in a Russian foreign exchange student or have decided to wear a red clown wig today.
Approximately one out of ten cats will spray. These cats are usually male, affectionately referred to as Kitty VanMeowMeow, and they probably don’t have any issue using their litter box. Of course, when this happens on your carpet or upholstery, your instinct is to clean it up and neutralize that smell, but first you have to treat Kitty VanMeowMeow or cleaning up is just a band-aid; he’s going to spray again. Here’s an article that goes in depth on this subject. Go ahead, read it, and enact the applicable advice. I’ll wait.
Now that Kitty VanMeowMeow has been properly dealt with, equip yourself with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or an enzymatic treatment. Locate the affected area(s). Your nose is a handy tool for determining this, but I prefer a black light (if a spot glows, you’ll knows). Remember, if Kitty V has had something to say for a long time, he may have said it in more spot than one.
Next, determine how bad it is. Be honest with yourself, if this has been an ongoing problem, the issue may be deeper than the surface of the carpet or upholstery. For carpet cleaning, this means that you may need to pull the carpet up and inspect the padding underneath; it too may need treatment if not altogether replacement. For upholstery cleaning, this may mean that you risk browning or discoloration by flooding it with chemical. In either case, professional cleaning will be the most effective route; the DIY job may exasperate the issue.
Kitty VanMeowMeow may be a mute neurotic with bad social skills, but he’s family, so no matter how poorly he communicates or how disgusting his message may be, you still love him. The more we know about why our cats are “talking” to us and what they’re trying to say, the better we can tend to their needs and express our love in a language they can understand.