It is often suggested that both latrining and spraying in the home are associated with increased stress in cats. However, the scientific evidence for this is weak. We therefore examined faecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) levels in subjects using a case-control design. Eleven spraying and 12 problematic latrining cats (assessed as healthy after detailed medical examinations on an initial population of 18 spraying and 23 latrining cats) were assessed along with behaviourally normal and similarly healthy control subjects from the same multi-cat (n = 3–9) households. Individual faecal samples were collected by owners from both “case” and “control” cats after observing them defecate in all but one pair in each group. A total of five samples per cat (typically taken on a weekly basis) were collected and submitted to extraction procedures prior to FCM analysis via an 11-oxoaetiocholanolone enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Participant cats, both “cases” (nine “sprayers” and eight “latriners”) and controls, were also individually video recorded (together with the owner) for 5 min in a dedicated room. FCM levels were significantly higher in individuals (“sprayers” and their controls) from spraying households than from the latrining households (“latriners” and their controls), but there was no significant difference between cats from the same household. Within a video observation test, cats from spraying houses spent proportionally more time moving (as opposed to stationary), but again there was no difference between cats from the same house. These results indicate that households in which a cat exhibits urine spraying, are generally more aroused, but “sprayers” are not more aroused than their housemates. Accordingly, we suggest appropriate management needs to be applied to the whole household to help alleviate the potential stress of all the cats in the home, and not just the one expressing this through urinary spraying behaviour.
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