While it’s most common for male cats to spray to mark their territory — especially if they haven’t been neutered yet — most people think it’s a myth that female cats can start spraying as well. That is not true. Female cats absolutely do spray, and in this post I’ll try to teach you the most common reasons as to why that is and offer you some solutions for completely eliminating the behavior.
The very first thing you need to keep in mind is that cat spraying and inappropriate urination are two completely different things. When a cat is urinating a puddle on a horizontal surface, this is possibly a litter box or medical issue. When a cat is spraying urine vertically against a wall or window, this is a true marking behavior. I’ve attached a picture below to show you the difference — I think it does so perfectly.
Now that you know the difference, you might be asking yourself — why do female cats spray?
Sometimes it’s because the cat has simply started to become territorial. This is often the case in multi-cat households and if cats are unneutered. Sometimes something as simple as spotting another cat through the window can spark your female cat’s marking instincts.
I even chose to ask a friend of mine — Dr. Cori Gross, a feline-only veterinarian who provides in-home behavior consultations — for her thoughts on why female cats spray, and this is what she had to say:
“Cats have an instinctive physiologic need to leave their scent — also known as pheromones — around their territory,” Gross explains. They do this by scratching with their paws, which leaves a visual cue, but also leaves pheromones emitted from the paw pads. They also do this by bunting — or rubbing their cheeks, which also have scent glands — against walls, furniture, and other objects.”Dr. Cori Gross
Apart from what Dr. Cori said above, something to always keep in mind is the anxiety factor.
If your cat feels unsafe — or there’s been an immediate change in her environment, big or small — it could be giving her anxiety which further leads to spraying. Cat spraying is often closely related to anxiety, and by marking their territory a cat feels a lot more calm.
One common reason — if not the most common reason cats start spraying is because they’re in a conflict with another cat. It might be a stray cat in the neighborhood or another cat in the home.
Like I’ve said in other blog posts, cats can be really sensitive even to the smallest things — especially if they’re still young and haven’t matured yet. If there’s new people around — a new roommate, a new cat sitter, even a new baby! — that can be enough to make a cat feel insecure and start marking its territory.
Cats remind me of humans a lot. Even when they’re in a lot of pain — they don’t like showing it outwardly. You might think your cat is O.K., but their anxiety levels can spike quite rapidly if you make too many changes in a short time.
Now that you know why female cats spray, let me offer you some advice on what you can do to stop it. That’s literally why this blog got started in the first place.
First of all — always make sure to clean up the affected area as soon as possible. When a place reeks of cat urine odor, it actually sends out signals to other cats. If and when the urine smells starts to wear off after a while, the cat will feel the need to “top it off” and that’s never good.
That’s why you need to make sure you thoroughly clean the area using an enzyme-based cat spray cleaner. Otherwise, you really won’t ever get the scent out. You might not smell the scent, but your cat (and more importantly, other cats) still will.
If a female cat is still spraying, please make sure you rule out that she isn’t sick by paying your local vet a visit even though it might be a tad expensive.
Next, try to identify where cat spraying happens most often. If it’s always by the window — it might be because your cat is spotting another cat through the window. Consider blocking the bottom portion of the view in order for your cat’s anxiety not to be triggered.
Last but not least, make sure you give Cat Spray Stop a try. Created by Susan Westinghouse, a vet and cat specialist, Cat Spray Stop is an all-encompassing guide designed to help you stop cat spraying in your home in as little as 30 days using a unique method called the TTS method.
I have tried Cat Spray Stop with great results, and have also published a review of it over here.
I really hope this blog post taught you something. Good luck with stopping the cat spraying — it’s possible for over 80% of cats.
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