Cat Spraying: What Is It and How Do You Make It Stop?

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cat spraying

Cat spraying is a problem that can be difficult to deal with. All cats can spray, whether they are male or female, young or old, fixed or not fixed; however, it is more common with males than it is with females. Intact kitties are more likely to spray than other cats. The spray has an extremely unpleasant smell because it contains pheromones. Spray from intact males has a stronger odor than spray from a cat who has been fixed. And the probability of urine spraying indoors is directly related to the number of cats in the household.

In this article we are going to tell you why cats spray and what you can do to stop it.

First of all, what is cat spraying? Your cat backs up to a vertical surface with its tail lifted vertically and directs a small amount of urine in a fine spray from beneath its tail. You will notice an intense quivering movement of the tip of the tail, sometimes treading, and a look of intense concentration on your cat’s face. This is called spraying.

Cats use their urine as a means of communicating. Cats can learn a lot about other cats from their urine, including their age, their sex and their sexual availability. Intact male cats may spray to show that they are ready and on the lookout for girlfriends. They are telling other male cats to stay away. When an intact female cat sprays, their urine indicates where they are in their cycle.

Cats are territorial creatures by nature, and spraying is a way for them to show dominance. Both wild and domesticated cats will mark their territory by spraying urine or by leaving their feces uncovered. By doing this, they are sending a sign to other cats that this is their territory, so stay away. Spraying around doors and windows could indicate the presence of another cat outside.

Why Do Cats Spray?

Cat spraying can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Marking boundaries
  • A desire to mate
  • Indoor cats reacting to an outdoor cat in the neighborhood
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Difficulties adjusting to environmental changes
  • Conflict resolution

To learn more about why cats spray, go to Why Do Cats Spray?

So what can you do to stop cat spraying?

Neutering and spaying will usually resolve spraying behavior, but in some cases it will only reduce it.

If you have too many cats in too small a space there may be struggles for dominance. If it is possible to separate the cats, this may help to resolve the spraying.

Don’t yell or punish your cats for spraying. This will only cause your cat to feel more stressed and the behavior can escalate.

Clean the sprayed area thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner, then try to change your cat’s association with the sprayed area. Try placing toys or scratchers near the sprayed area. Place your cat’s food and water bowls in that area. Also, try using synthetic pheromones around the marked areas.

Reduce the competition in multi-cat households by providing more vertical territory, more scratchers and more hiding spaces. Make sure there are enough litter boxes in your home – one per cat, plus one. Spread the litter boxes in different areas of the house.

If you add a new kitty to your household, keep him separated from your cat and introduce him slowly.

Anxiety issues like overcrowding, dominance, unpleasant noises, loneliness and changes in the home environment can cause a cat to become anxious and result in spraying. Try to give your cat a happy, interesting environment with cat trees, climbing posts, scratchers, window beds and toys. To learn more about creating an interesting environment for your cat, go to Is Your Indoor Cat bored? 12 ways to Prevent Boredom.

Why Is My Neutered Cat Spraying?

Neutered cat spraying is a big problem for cat lovers. You may have neutered your cat with the expectation that it would stop him from spraying only to find that the behavior continues. It may take a month or so for your cat’s hormonal activity to calm down after neutering. But cat spraying is not always sexually related. So if the activity does not eventually stop, your cat may be marking due to other issues. Maybe urine marking has become a habit for your cat. Or your cat may be triggered from the scent of spots where he previously marked. Or, it could be that your cat is spraying because he is stressed.

Neutered cat spraying can be a difficult thing to deal with. While you find the behavior frustrating and offensive, your cat thinks it’s perfectly normal. Neutered cat spraying is often caused by stress. Spraying its scent onto a wall or piece of furniture helps to reassure the cat.

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