Unlike urinating outside the litter box, spraying is when urine is sprayed on vertical surfaces, like walls, doors, and furniture. While most cat lovers know that male cats will spray urine to mark their territory, they may be surprised to learn that female cats (both spayed and unspayed) can also exhibit this behavior, although it is not as common in females. Female cat spraying can also be caused by stress, litter box issues or medical conditions.
The problem is, your cat doesn’t think that her urine smells bad. Spraying urine makes the cat feel more content. It gives her a sense of control and makes her feel more secure.
Intact cats are more than twice as likely to spray compared to spayed females. Spaying your female kitty can reduce the chances of female cat spraying, but it’s not a guarantee. Some spayed cats continue to exhibit this behavior.
Why Female Cats Spray
Regardless of its causes, female cat spraying can be difficult to deal with. If your cat is exhibiting this issue, it is up to you to investigate the problem and find out how to eliminate it.
There are many reasons for female cat spraying, including:
- Changes in your cat’s environment
- Increased levels of stress
- Showing fertility to male cats
- Too little playtime
- Dietary changes
- Changing the litter you use in the litter box
- Neighborhood cats outside your home
- Other cats in your home
- Getting new furniture
Cats have an instinctive need to leave their scents. They can do this by scratching because the paw pads emit pheromones. They can also do this by rubbing their cheeks against an object because their cheeks also have scent glands. Spraying is another way that cats leave their scents behind to mark their territory. The behavior is completely instinctive, but it can also be caused by stress. If your cat has a conflict with another cat (either in your home or outside), or if there is a change in your cat’s routine, she may feel more anxious. Marking her territory helps to calm her.
To learn more about feline pheromones, go to What Are Cat Pheromones?
The more territorial your cat is, the more likely it is that she’ll mark her territory by spraying. Unneutered cats and cats living in multi-cat households are more likely to spray to mark their territory. And if one of your cats in a multi-cat home starts spraying, it is likely that others may do the same.
What You Can Do to Stop Spraying
If you’ve got a female cat that is spraying, there are certain steps you can take to help remedy the situation. To start with, make sure to thoroughly clean the area where the cat has sprayed. Use an enzyme-based cleaner. Regular household cleaners are not effective at removing urine odor and your cat will continue to smell the odor – even when you can’t. Also, don’t use cleaning products that contain ammonia because they can smell like urine to your cat.
Next, try to remove the trigger that is causing your cat’s anxiety. For instance, if you have multiple cats in your home, make sure that you provide multiple bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts and toys. If your cat has sprayed at a window, it could be that she sees another cat outside. Try covering the bottom part of the window to block your cat’s view.
Try to remove any other causes of stress in the home. Make sure to keep your routine the same. Give your cat plenty of things to keep her environment interesting, like cat trees and perches. Add more litter boxes or try to make your cat’s litter box more attractive by cleaning it more often or using different litter. Pheromone sprays can also help. They contain artificial forms of the chemical that is released by a cat’s cheek glands. Spray these pheromone sprays around the home and in the areas where your cat has already marked.
If you’ve tried everything and your cat is still spraying, see your veterinarian. It could be that your cat has a medical condition or that she needs some anti-anxiety medication.
To learn more about cat spraying, go to Cat Spraying: What Is It and How Do You Make It Stop?