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Cat Spraying: Why Do Cats Spray

In the wild, big cats leave clear signals to establish their territory and avoid conflict – which is important because they’re dependent on themselves to stay out of trouble.

Understanding more about Cat Spraying

Cats are adorable, intelligent, and expressive, making them one of the best pets to have at home. Although cats can often be mischievous and get into unlikely accidents such as scratching on furniture or dropping things from tables, it is important to understand that they never really mean intentional harm. Urine marking or male cats spraying, however, is an instinctive reaction in cats which allows them to mark their territories and attract mates.

Reasons for Cat Marking

Cats mostly rely on verbal sounds and body language as a form of communication with other cats, as well as their favourite humans. So, why do cats spray? Cat urine spraying is also an important form of communication within the feline community and can have several meanings that can be expressed. In the wild, cats spray to communicate to other cats about their territory and that behaviour has stayed on in the domestic cats as well.

Read on to find out the other reasons why do cats spray around the house, and how to get rid of the pungent smell of cat urine spray.

Why do Cats Spray?

  • Intra-household Cat Communication through Spraying

    Within the household, indoor cats lead a considerably safer, secure life. However, being introverted and independent by their very nature, cats often require their personal space to thrive and feel comfortable. Therefore, indoor cats often use cat marking when they feel territorial about their personal space as a way of defending it from intruders. This household communicative behaviour can be more prominently felt in houses with multiple cats. Indoor cats also often spray to make their owners aware of litter box issues.

  • Outdoor Cat Communication via Spraying

    In the wild, outdoor cats use urine spraying as a major form of communication in the feline community. This can be more prominently observed in a cat’s hunting ground, where the strong urine smell can ward off predators, as well as other feline competitors. Urine spraying allows cats to make their claim over the territory felt by outsiders. While outdoor cats use the urine cat marking technique to defend their area against intrusions, the urine spraying nature in housecats is almost a natural instinct to establish territories.

  • Stress-induced Cat Spraying

    If you have been a cat parent, you must be aware that these fluffy furballs do not do well with environmental changes and can be left feeling stressed in a new environment. So, if you are wondering why do cats spray, stress-induced cat spraying is common in cats feeling anxious, as the strong scent of urine can help establish a feeling of territory, as well as throw off any perceived threat.

Differentiating Cat Spraying vs. Peeing Outside the Litter Box

While cat peeing is an involuntary action that involves your furry munchkin relieving itself in the litter box or a designated peeing area, cat spraying is an intentional action, and is considered a crucial form of communication in the feline community, which can have several meanings. Additionally, cats spray to mark their territory, so most cats spray outside the litter box. However, if your cat is urinating outside the litter box for some time, it can express discontent with the litter box or even underlying health concerns it wants to draw your attention to. Kittens that have not been litter-trained may also pee outside the litter box, making it important to know how to help a kitten pee.

How to Prevent Cat Spraying?

While cat spraying is harmless, it leaves a strong, pungent odour due to its high ammonia content. Additionally, spray cat markings can leave stubborn stains on walls and furniture, so it is important to know how to get a cat to stop spraying:

  • Since male cats spraying is common for unneutered cats, getting them spayed or neutered can be a long-term solution to preventing cat spraying.
  • Spraying is also a result of cats feeling unsatisfied with their litter boxes. And especially in multi-cat households, it is important to make sure cats have their individual litter boxes. Placing litter boxes where your cat commonly sprays can also help with preventing cat urine spraying.
  • Cats can also spray when their litter box is full. Try to scoop out their litter box at least once every day to make sure it is clean and ready for use. Knowing how to help a kitten pee can also help avoid your little furball from urinating outside the litter tray or kitten peeing on bed.
  • Synthetic cat pheromones available to purchase commercially are also effective in preventing male cats spraying in areas already sprayed with the pheromone.

How to get rid of Cat Spray Smell?

Cat pee spray has a distinct pungent smell that can aggravate if left unattended. So, it is important to know how to get rid of the cat spray smell before it worsens:

  • Enzymatic cleaner solutions are available in pet stores or can be purchased online and can be used to thoroughly clean the sprayed areas. Since these cleaners are designed to neutralise pet odours, they can effectively get rid of the cat spraying in house smell and prevent staining.
  • The cat urine smell can fester and grow heavier if left in a poorly ventilated room. Opening the doors, windows, and blinds can allow air circulation, slowly dissipating the pungent smell.
  • Cleaning with a solution of vinegar and citric acid such as lemon or lime can evaporate the smell of uric acid in the cat's urine, preventing it from worsening. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners as they can encourage cats to spray again.

Which cats are more likely to urine mark?

While cats can be adorable goofballs most of the time, urine spraying, especially when done by an indoor cat, can have an adverse effect within the household. Not only are cat spray stains stubborn and difficult to remove, but cat pee spray also has a pungent smell that can get worse if left unattended. Additionally, it also contains a high percentage of ammonia, which can make breathing uncomfortable. But as annoying it is, it is also important to understand that cat spraying is a natural process and is not done with a bad intention. So, before you train your cat to avoid spraying, it is important to understand why is my cat spraying and which cats are more likely to urine spray.

  • Cats in households with multiple felines often feel strongly territorial, and in order to mark their individual spots, are likely to mark them with urine spray.
  • Cat spray has a concentration of pheromones, which allows our feline friends to attract mates. Unneutered cats (females and males) in heat also use female cat spraying for indicating reproductive availability.
  • If you have shifted to a new neighbourhood, your cat might start urine spraying under stress and anxiety to ward off perceived threats.
  • Although cats are incredibly friendly and affectionate towards one another, they are no strangers to rising conflict between two or more cats in a multi-cat household, which can cause cats to urine spray, warning their opponents.

Treating Spraying or Marking Issues

Now that you know that spraying in cats is a natural, instinctive behaviour, mentioned below are some ways that can help you treat spraying or cat marking issues in cats without punishing them:

  • Female cat spraying is a prominent behaviour in cats in heat, as it allows them to attract potential mates. So, spaying or getting your kitty friend neutered can be a wise decision. Not only is it an effective solution to cat urine spraying but is also beneficial for cats as it eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer and mammary gland tumours in cats. Spayed or neutered cats are also calmer and more well-behaved than cats that are not.
  • If your cat is spraying because of territorial feelings, closing doors and windows can help calm them down, as it prevents any contact with neighbourhood cats.
  • If you suspect your cat spraying is stress-induced, getting them in a secure space away from the stressful environment can help them calm down and stop spraying or kitten peeing on bed.

Medications for Treating Cat Spraying Problems

If your cat is frequently urine spraying, your veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter medications such as Fluoxetine or Clomipramine, known to have over 90% effectiveness in cats who urine spray.


Why is my cat spraying?

Cats are known to spray for several reasons, such as cat marking their territories, warding away predators, or attracting potential mates when they are in heat. Cats under stress and anxiety are known to urine spray as well.

Is cat spraying the same as peeing?

Cat parents often wonder, why do cats spray? Contrary to popular belief, cat peeing and spraying are not the same. While cat pee involves your furry relieving itself, cat spray is more intentional to communicate certain things like marking territories.

How do I get my cat to stop spraying?

Since male cats spraying is mostly associated with non-neutered cats looking for a mate in heat, getting your cat spayed or neutered is a possible long-term solution. Additionally, veterinarians may recommend medications like Fluoxetine or Clomipramine with a high success rate.

Do cats spray when happy?

While spraying can have several connotations, it does not generally indicate happiness in cats. Cat urine spraying is usually used for urine marking in cats to indicate territories, warding off predators, and attracting potential mates when in heat.

What is spraying and marking in cats?

Male cats spraying is considered a vital part of feline communication. While most outdoor cats spray to mark territories, spraying in household cats is more instinctive. Female cat spraying and urine marking in cats are also for attracting mates.

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