In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between cat spraying and urinating, why male cats spray, and reasons why a female cat will spray. We’ll discuss how to stop a cat from spraying by explaining what it is and why they do it. Spraying is a way of communicating with other cats. Figuring out what your cat is trying to communicate is the best way to solve the problem and stop your cat from spraying. But first things first…
What’s the Difference Between a Cat Spraying and Peeing?
Urinating is when your cat squats to pee, whether it’s in the litter box, outside, or unfortunately, on your floor or furniture. It occurs on a horizontal surface.
Spraying, on the other hand, is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface like a wall or a piece of furniture, with their tail erect, and squirts urine. Their tail will usually quiver while they’re spraying. Spraying is less liquid than urinating and usually has a stronger smell.
Spraying happens most often with un-neutered males and in households with multiple cats, but there are a variety of reasons why cats spray which we’ll discuss in this article.
If you believe your cat is urinating and not spraying, but doing it somewhere other than the litter box, refer to these articles for more help:
Why Do Male Cats Spray?
Male cats most often spray for two reasons:
To mark their territory. Cats are territorial animals, and they like to claim certain areas and things. Spraying (otherwise known as urine marking) is a cat’s way of making his presence known to other cats and making other cats aware of what belongs to him. If you have more than one cat, then the spraying is likely territorial.
As a mating ritual. Spraying is also related to mating for cats and is common during mating season. Cat urine contains pheromones that communicate their availability to breed, and a male cat may spray to make his presence and availability known to females. If you have a male cat who is not neutered, this may be the reason why he is spraying.
Neuter your male cat. Male cats should be neutered before they are six months old. Most male cats will not start spraying if they are neutered prior to six months’ old. A large percentage of older male cats will stop spraying after being neutered – most immediately, and some within a few months.
Do Female Cats Spray?
Yes. Female cats will spray for the variety of reasons we’ll discuss in this article, but most commonly for the purpose of attracting a male. Their urine contains pheromones that will let male cats know she’s available for mating.
Spay your female cat. Female cats reach maturity somewhere between five and eight months old. To prevent your female cat from going into heat, have her spayed around five months’ old. This will prevent unwanted pregnancy and also help prevent some possible health issues for her later in life.
In addition to the specific reasons we’ve discussed about why both male and female cats spray, there could be other issues causing them to spray.
A new pet or a new baby. This may make your cat feel threatened and want to mark their territory. To help your cat adjust to new pets or family members, try these tips:
Keep your cat on a regular schedule. Making sure they have a regular routine will help. Keep things like feeding times, bed times, and litter box cleaning consistent. Also make sure your cat is getting enough attention. You can help your cat to adjust to new things in the house (like baby supplies) by letting your cat examine and smell the items. A change in routine or surroundings can cause a cat to start spraying.
Neighborhood cats. If there are neighborhood cats coming around, your cat might start spraying in order to mark their territory. Spraying around windows and doors would indicate the presence of outside cats. Shoo away any cats coming into your yard or around your house. Don’t put out food and water for outside cats. Also, you might limit your cat’s view of the outdoors by moving furniture or their perch away from the window or by closing blinds – just until you can get any neighborhood cats to stop coming around. If shooing them away isn’t effective, you might try attaching a motion detection device to your lawn sprinkler, causing the intruding cat to be squirted with water when he goes, say, toward certain windows.
Some cats will spray to get attention. Make sure you’re spending enough time with your cat and giving enough affection. Petting or brushing your cat or playing with them with toys is a great way to make them feel secure and content.
Changes in their routine. Cats don’t like change. Changes in your household or schedule can cause stress for cats, and stress can cause spraying. Feed your cat at the same time every day, keep their litter box clean, keep their toys and their bed in the same spot. Whenever there’s a change of any sort within your household, consider how it’s affecting your cat and make an effort to normalize things for your cat as much as possible.
Multiple cats. If you have more than one cat, you have to make sure there are enough beds, enough food dishes, enough toys, enough perches, enough litter boxes and enough space. Cats will spray to mark their territory and their belongings if they feel threatened by other cats. Providing multiples of things cats need and enjoy will go a long way toward keeping the peace.
Clean the area as soon as possible by either wiping the surface where the cat sprayed, or using a paper towel or cloth to absorb the spray from carpet. Then clean the area thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle No More Marking. This will eliminate the odor and help prevent the cat from spraying in the same area again. If your cat has sprayed on a blanket or clothing, wash the item in the washing machine with regular laundry detergent. If the spray has gotten on the carpet, read this article, How to Remove Dog and Cat Urine from Carpet.
While cat spraying is usually a behavioral issue, you should have your cat checked by a veterinarian if the issue persists. A basic vet examination can rule out or identify any medical problems that may be causing your cat to spray. A few possibilities are liver disease, urinary tract infections, urinary tract, kidney or bladder stones, hyperthyroidism, feline leukemia, high blood sugar, and stress.
If your cat’s spraying is caused by stress or anxiety, your vet may be able to recommend medications that can help. You might also try a calming product – see some options here. For more information about what might be stressing your cat out, read this article, Cat Stress Relievers – 10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out!
For More Help with Cat Training
I can recommend two very good resources for cat training. One is UltimateCatSecrets.com. This program covers cat training, plus a variety of other topics regarding the care of cats. It’s $37 and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.
Another is a Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable eBook that is jam-packed with information on how to solve 25 real-life cat behavior problems. It includes the best cat training techniques and step-by-step instructions. It’s $37 and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.
Be Patient With Your Cat!
Your cat may be spraying for a perfectly natural reason like mating – but if they’re spraying due to stress or territorial issues, then the cat most likely feels upset, frightened or threatened You should never punish a cat for spraying. This will only worsen their anxiety and could make the problem worse. Always be kind to your cat and never hit your cat or yell at them. Cats are highly intelligent animals and their behavior always has a logical cause. It’s our job as pet owners to educate ourselves as to why our pets behave the way they do, and take appropriate steps to solve any issues. I hope this article has helped! Please feel free to comment if you have questions.
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