Why do cats spray?

Spraying is when your cat marks its territory while giving information about themselves to other cats. Spraying lets other cats know when they are ready to mate, to warn off unfamiliar cats or to protect or mark their territory. The most common place for cats to spray is outdoors, although if they feel threatened indoors they may spray here too.

The reason cats spray may be because they feel anxious or stressed for some reason, although there may not be an obvious trigger from your point of view. If they keep doing it there may be a medical reason so ask your vet for further advice.

Do female cats spray as well?

Spraying can happen with both male and female cats however it is more common in unneutered male cats. Although spraying is unusual for females, she may be doing it to attract a mate.

The difference between spraying and urinating

The difference between spraying and urinating is the position of your cat. When a cat urinates it is in a squatting position and is done on a horizontal surface. Spraying usually occurs when the cat is standing and the spray is normally vertical and at a cat’s nose height. The most common areas to find spray are on doors, windows, cat flaps and walls.

How to stop cats spraying

If your cat sprays indoors this is unusual cat behaviour which could mean your cat is feeling stressed or anxious. Although it is hard to find out what’s causing the anxiety think about anything that’s changed at home, could it be a new pet? A new family member? Or even a new sofa? Once a cat has sprayed, the scent can drive the cat to continue to mark or urinate in the same place. To prevent spraying in the house keep the cat away from the area until the scents are weaker. Don’t clean up the area while the cat is watching on as this can heighten its anxiety levels. Once you have cleaned up, encourage your cat to play in the same place to help them feel less anxious and more secure.

If your cat has not been neutered then this could be a solution as neutering reduces a cat’s desire to spray. Neutering your cat when they are young can stop them from spraying in the future. However neutering your cat once spraying has started may only reduce the problem.

Catnip can also be an effective solution. The Catnip plant is a herb, originally from Europe and Asia, with a minty, lemony scent that has a positive effect on cats. Catnip can help some cats feel calm and secure. Sprinkling a little onto a cat’s litter tray can encourage them to urinate in the appropriate place. You can also rub Catnip onto your cat’s bedding, scratch post or toy to decrease your cat’s anxiety.

Catnip is safe to use as it is non-addictive and safe to eat.

If the problem persists consult your vet.