Cat Spraying 101 – Why & How To Stop Them From Doing It

Cats make wonderful pets and companions. They are also very clean and, with proper training, they use the litter box to pee.

However, you may find signs of urine and poop scattered all over your house in some situations.

As the pet owner, you will need to find out what’s the cause of this.

What Does It Mean When A Cat Sprays?

When your cat sprays, it means they are trying to send you or another cat a message, either to mark their territory or as a signal that they are stressed.

Spraying is also known as urine marking. This happens when the cat deposits urine on your wall, floor, or curtains.

You can differentiate whether your cat is spraying or peeing normally by observing its posture. Instead of squatting, they will be standing straight up.

When your cat is spraying, its tail will be upright and quivering. In this position, pee gushes backward to a vertical surface such as a wall.

You are likely to notice that this urine has a more pungent smell than what your cat deposits on the litter box.

This strong scent results from extra elements in the urine that facilitate communication, such as pheromones.

If your cat is constantly spraying, it becomes an unpleasant behavior. The pungent odor sticks in your home, and the urine causes damage to your carpet or furniture.

Spraying can occur both indoors and outdoors, depending on how much your cat feels threatened.

The territory is essential for cats. They use the urine scent as a signal to indicate where they feel safe and secure.

Apart from marking territory, your cat may be spraying because of insecurity, change in routine or environment, or threat from another cat.

It might be challenging to notice when your cat is not using the litter box, especially when you are not home.

Therefore, you need to look out for clues, wet surfaces, or urine smells in your house, indicating that your cat is spraying.

Is It Normal for Cats to Spray?

In the feline world, it’s normal to spray. In the same way, they rub their faces or roll on the ground; cats use spraying as a communication technique.

The scent is the primary way that cats converse, especially with their fellow cats.

If your cat is under stress or sick, it’s normal for them to spray. They use this as a coping mechanism that should draw your attention to the problem at hand.

However, if the triggers are external issues, you have to identify the cause and find ways to eliminate the problem.

Any underlying medical conditions could worsen the spraying problem; therefore, you need to pay attention to that.

Do both male and female cats spray?

Yes – both male and female cats tend to spray; therefore, you need to pay attention to your feline friend.

However, spraying is more common with male cats. They resort to this behavior when they need to communicate to female cats that they are available to mate.

Neutering your cat will help curb this behavior; therefore, you need to desex your cats as soon as you can.

In addition, it will drastically reduce their hormone levels and their urge to spray in your home and outdoors.

Therefore, you should plan for an appointment with a vet once you bring a new pet to your home.

When and Why Do Cats Start Spraying?

Cat spraying often starts at around six to seven months, as soon as your cats reach sexual maturity. You should start looking for the signs when your kitten matures. For male cats, this can be between 4-5 months.

Here are some of the triggers that cause your cat to spray either indoors or outdoors.

There’s Been A Change in Their Environment

Cats are quite sensitive to changes. For example, if you move houses or renovate your home, they are more likely to start spraying.

Having a new member in the household or an additional cat also makes them insecure.

Their Litter Box Is Dirty

Cats are typically very clean creatures. A dirty litter box makes them uncomfortable and results in stress. Not emptying the box often could push your cat to start spraying.

The litter box issue can also be a common problem for cats that have not been trained well.

For instance, if you just brought home a cat from the shelter or rescue center, they might not have any potty training, causing them to pee anywhere in the house.

They Are In Conflict With Another Cat

As a very territorial creature, cats will mark their space both in your house and outside. T

herefore, if you bring in another cat, they might start fighting for space and use spraying to draw boundaries.

The same happens outside your house when another cat is roaming the compound.

It’s Mating Season

Unneutered males are more likely to leave their mark when they need to mate. They use this method as a way to let the opposite sex know they’re available.

However, you should note that it could still spray from past behaviors and memory if your cat was neutered late in life.

They Have A Urinary Tract Infection

Cats start spraying when they have a medical condition. The most common health problem is urinary tract infections that come with age. Therefore, once you notice your cat is peeing abnormally, it’s best to confirm that it’s not medical-related.

How to Stop Cats from Spraying

Once you notice your cat is spraying and have identified the cause, the next step is to stop them from this behavior. So how do you do that? Here are a few tips and tricks.

1. Neuter Your Cat

When your cat gets neutered, they are much likely less to spray. They have less desire to mark their territory, which reduces the cases of spraying.

If this is a problem for you, it’s time to schedule a visit with the vet.

2. Reduce Their Stress Levels

If you identify stress as the cause of spraying in your cat, try and make the environment less stressful.

You can avoid making drastic changes in the house that trigger stress in your pet to stop them from urinating on your walls or carpet.

3. Have Them Checked By Your Vet

Your cat may have a medical condition such as arthritis or urinary tract infections which could be influencing this behavior.

The only way to know for sure is by taking them to the vet for regular checkups.

Once you rule out medical conditions, you can efficiently deal with the actual trigger for spraying.

4. Keep The Litter Box Clean And Private

Cats are very particular about their cleanliness and the litter box. Therefore, you need to enforce proper litter management by cleaning it regularly.

Also, place it in a well-hidden place away from the open spaces in the house.

Depending on the number of cats you have, you should always have an extra tray than the number of cats to avoid conflict.

However, if the spraying continues, especially at one place, you can consider moving the tray there to see if your pet will start using the litter box again.

5. Avoid Negative Reinforcement

If your cat is often spraying, avoid negative reactions such as shouting at them. This will further cause stress and make them continue spraying. Instead, find other solutions that make it easier to control this behavior without stressing them.

6. Make Your Cat Feel Secure

Because cats are territorial, they will get easily threatened by the neighbor’s cat or if you bring a new addition to the home.

If this is the issue, you can find ways to keep the other cat away by blocking windows, screens where the cat sees the other one, or talking to your neighbor to limit the movement of their cat into your compound.

With a new cat in your house, make sure there are enough beds, litter trays, and toys. This method will make your cat feel more secure and less desire to mark their territory.

7. Get Cat Supplements

If the cat is under too much stress, especially from a change in environment, your vet can recommend some supplements to help control the condition.

Therefore, you must keep your vet in the loop if you notice your pet is constantly stressed.

Remedies for Getting Rid of Cat Spray Smell

The urine smell from spraying tends to be more intense than normal pee. You’ll smell it on your bed, carpet, or sofas which can be very uncomfortable.

Here’s how to get rid of the smell in your house.

1. Use a Biological or Enzymatic Washing Liquid

Wash the area where your cat sprays with a biological solution to get rid of the smell.

Soap and water are not enough and might leave a scent that your pet can still identify and start spraying again.

These enzymatic cleaners are specifically meant to break down the smell of pet urine.

2. Stay Away From Ammonia-Based Cleaners

When cleaning the areas in your house, avoid using any cleaners that have ammonia.

Your pet will still catch the odor because urine also contains ammonia.

Because of this, they will tend to come back and pee in the same spot.

3. Avoid Strong-Smelling Cleaners

Using a very strong-smelling cleaner might work to eliminate the urine smell.

However, your pet will still smell it and be triggered to mark its territory again.

4. Use Alcohol Solutions After Properly Cleaning Urine Spray

Your vet or pharmacy can provide you with alcohol solutions that you can spray after using the cleaners.

You can also pick it up on Amazon.

These products work by eliminating any pending odors and restores your house to its original state.

5. Make the Spray Areas Unattractive

After you wash the spots, the next step is to make sure the smell stays away permanently. You can achieve this by ensuring they don’t spray in your house.

If your cat sprays at one particular spot, you can use this strategy to distract them from peeing there.

Since they are clean animals, they don’t like contaminated food or personal space.

Try moving their litter box and/or food bowl to where they like spraying to further deter them.

This tactic will change how your cat views that specific spot.

The End (Of Cat Spraying)

Cat spraying is a frustrating problem for any pet owner. Likewise, having a house that smells like pungent urine is a troubling experience.

Once you notice your cat is spraying, you need to identify the cause and how you can solve the problem.

Most of these issues are because of territory; therefore, you need to be keen, especially if you have more than one cat.

With the reasons in mind, it becomes easy to handle the problem and control the spraying.

Your vet can help you with advice and any medication you need to use on your pet.

Using these tips is the first step in getting rid of the cat urine smell in your house.