So Why Does Cat Spraying Even Happen?

Cat Spraying

If you are a cat owner, you may have experienced a problem with your cat spraying in your house. This can create a terrible smell, can become a hygiene issue, and adds to your list of cleaning tasks. Clearly, this is something that you will want to stop them from doing. To deter this behavior, you must first understand why they do this. So, here is an overview of why your cat sprays and how you can prevent this behavior.

What is Cat Spraying?

Cat spraying is often simply a form of cat marking, where cats leave their scent. This involves spraying their urine onto a wall, piece of furniture, a tree, or a patch of ground. This behavior is most commonly associated with male cats, but it is also something that is done by female cats and male cats that have been neutered. According to Pet MD, the most common way that cats do this is to stand with their hind legs against something and then spray a small amount of urine. However, the act of spraying includes any type of inappropriate urination, including squatting anywhere other than in their litter box, such as squatting on your bed.

Why Do Male Cats Spray?

Cat spraying is most common in male cats, and it is normal behavior, says Purina. It is a way of them marking their territory to warn off rivals and to attract mates. In the wild, territory is very important to felines. This is instinctive behavior that cats display to protect themselves and their young, as well as to give themselves the opportunity to procreate. Territory is also important to domestic cats, which is why you may have seen your cat yowling when another cat comes into your garden. They use spraying as a way of marking their territory to let other cats know that an area is their home and to keep away. In most cases, male cats reserve their spraying a territory marking behavior for the outdoors. However, indoor cats and those that live with other cats may feel the need to spray indoors, too. It is the indoor spraying that is the issue for most cat owners.

What About Neutered Males and Female Cats?

Although cat spraying is most common in male cats who need to mark their territory, it is also a behavior that female cats and neutered. Unlike unneutered male cats, neutered male cats and female cats do not have the same evolutionary need to mark their territory. A common cause of spraying amongst females and neutered males is anxiety. This is often caused by changes to the environment or introducing another cat. Hormones also play a big part in cat spraying. If your cat is squatting and there is a lot of urine, then it is more likely that your cat is inappropriately urinating rather than displaying true cat spraying behavior.

What Are Other Causes of Spraying?

If you do not think that your cat is spraying to mark their territory or because they are anxious, then you should consider other possible causes for their inappropriate urination. According to Vet Street, some of the potential causes include:

  • Litter box problems- It is possible that your cat has an issue with their litter tray or cat litter, especially if you have recently changed either one of these, and your cats spraying behavior did not occur until you made these changes. They may not like the smell or the feel of the cat litter underfoot.
  • Urinary tract infections- Also known as UTIs, urinary tract infections are another possible cause for cat spraying. This can increase the need for the cat to urinate and reduce their ability to control their urine flow. As a result, they may begin to urinate in inappropriate places.
  • How to Stop Your Cat from Spraying
  • Outdoor spraying is usually not an issue for most cat owners, but indoor spraying is a different matter. It can give your home a bad odor and increase the necessity to clean regularly. Therefore, you will probably need some strategies to stop your cat from spraying indoors. Some strategies to use include the following:
  • Change the litter- A simple strategy is to experiment with new cat litter as problems with cat litter is one of the simplest problems to resolve.
  • Give more affection- If the problem is anxiety, then taking the simple measure of offering your cat more affection can make them feel more secure.
  • Allow time- Sometimes, you just need to have a little patience and wait for the phase to pass. If the issue is that the cat is reacting to a change, such as moving to a new home, then patience is sometimes the key. When the cat begins to adapt and settle, the behavior will often stop.
  • Visit the veterinarian- A sudden onset of inappropriate urination or spraying is potentially caused by a medical condition. Therefore, you should take your cat to get checked by the vet to identify any underlying medical causes and receive the appropriate treatment.
  • Hormone treatment- As sex hormones are often the reason for spraying, a veterinarian may prescribe medication to reduce the number of hormones that are produced.
  • Spaying and neutering- Cats that are spayed or neutered are less likely to spray because they produce fewer sex hormones. If you have not had your cat spayed or neutered already, it is worth considering this.

Cat Spraying – The Bottom Line

Cat spraying is normal behavior for unneutered male cats as they mark their territory, and it is not an issue unless they spray inside. It is also a behavior that is sometimes displayed by female and neutered males. There are many possible causes of this behavior, but there are also steps you can take to prevent your cat from spraying within the home.


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