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Cat Spraying: Why Do They Do It?

by Sarene Maev Butao April 29, 2019

What Does it Mean When Your Cats Spray?

Cats are unique animals. Very much like our pet dogs, they have earned their place in being a very trustworthy companion in our homes. However, they are just some things we find odd that our cats. Especially if you are an amateur cat owner, it is no surprise that you will encounter weird habits and stuff which your cats do. One of these habits is spraying or cat spraying. And no, this does not mean that your cat sprays with water or whatnot, it is an entirely different thing than that. Read on more below to know more about cat spraying and why do cats do it.

What is cat spraying?

Cat spraying is when a cat backs up to any vertical surface inside your home or outside, erects their tail, and squirts urine into that surface. Their tail often shakes or quivers while they are spraying. Unlike urinating, spraying is different since normal urine is done while squatting on furniture, floor, things lying around, or just any horizontal surface. As a cat owner, you should know the difference between these two things in order to monitor your cat’s behavior. Both female and male cats can and will do the spraying. It is not limited to any gender or age although adult cats tend to perform it more.

Moreover, cat spraying is not an indication of bad behavior among cats or even a litter box issue. It is just a natural thing done by felines. It is typically done outdoors wherein there is more competition to other cats, and they need to mark their territory regularly. When indoors, cats usually just rub their heads on certain things to mark territory, but when outside, spraying is done.

Why do cats spray?

Now that we know what cat spraying is, we should evaluate why cats do it in the first place. Unlike human beings, cats are very simple and straightforward when it comes to communicating. The scent is the primary way of communicating in cats. That is why when you bring home a new cat, and the old cats tend to smell him or her in order for them to know the new one. In addition to that and other ways of communicating like vocalizing, scratching, rubbing, and body language, urine is one-way cats do to broadcast their emotions and intentions.

There are several reasons why your cats spray. Usually, cat spraying is done to mark a cat’s territory. By doing this, other cats are warned that there is already a cat claiming a certain area and that they should stay away from it. Another reason is a cat wants other cats to know that they are there. Urine is a potent tool for communication in cats. They can tell a whole lot of things from urine including sex, status, and sexual availability. Frequently, cat spraying is done to inform other cats in the neighborhood about a cat’s reproductive cycle, and whether or not they are available to mate. In other words, a cat’s urine is like their very own resume or calling card meant to inform other cats about their selves.

Just like mentioned above, cat spraying is typically done outdoors wherein other cats can smell and know what that cat is trying to communicate. When it is done indoors, however, it could mean different things. A cat spraying indoors is usually a sign of anxiety and there must be a reason why a cat is marking is their territory indoors. Maybe the cat has noticed other cats and needed to deliver a message. A cat that sprays doorframes, window edges, and curtains may feel threatened with what they saw outside and is marking for precautionary measures. A cat spraying between chair, bed, and table legs are maybe feeling a bit insecure and needed to surround themselves with their scent to feel more confident.

If you still do not know why your cat is spraying indoors, it is best that you go to your veterinarian and have it checked for other possible reasons why your cat is spraying. FLUTD or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease can also be a medical reason why your cat is spraying or urine marking. It is a treatable disease which causes blockage of the urinary tract which makes peeing painful, confusing, or impossible for cats. If your cat suddenly stopped using the litter box and can be seen spending a lot of time trying to urinate and licking their genitals, consider it an early sign for FLUTD. Has your cat checked with a vet immediately because it can be fatal if left untreated?

How do I deal with cat spraying?

One thing you should know is that cat spraying is a natural thing done by cats and is not and never will be an indication of bad behavior. As a cat mom, you should never scold or be angry with your cats for doing this. Those responses can trigger something in the cats that will eventually lead to progression in cat spraying. Instead of punishing them, be patient and carefully monitor your cat’s spraying behavior to find out the reason why they are spraying in the first place.

If you own more than one cat, it is also essential to find out which one is the culprit behind all the spraying. It is for you to have an easier time monitoring a cat exhibiting this behavior. Some cat owners use a fluorescent dye that can be safely added to cat food (one cat at a time) to identify which one is spraying. A webcam or a kitty cam is also an option.

Lastly, do not clean the sprayed area immediately. Cats can get even more anxious when they would notice that their scent is gone and may tend to ‘over-scent’ and spray more than usual. If the smell is unbearable, however, and getting rid of it is a priority, make sure to use a product meant for cleaning and neutralizing cat urine.

Sarene Maev Butao
Sarene Maev Butao


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