Why Does Your Cat Spray?

Cat spraying is a natural behavior, specific to tom cats, but it may occur in females also. This behavior may be very unpleasant if your cat sprays in the house, so you'll want to consider a few options to get rid of the behavior. The reasons why a cat might spray range from stress and anxiety to communication and territorial marking.

Messages during Mating Season

Feline urine contains pheromones, and these usually transmit messages to other cats in the area. Pheromones may signal the availability of the cat to other felines during the mating season.

Marking the Territory

Cats, especially tom cats, tend to be very territorial. They spray corners of your home or places outside to mark their territory. Territorial spraying is more frequent in a household with multiple cats.

Stress and Anxiety

In some cases, spraying is the way your cat copes with stress and anxiety. The stress may be triggered by changes, separation, loss or even diseases. Cat spraying caused by stress and anxiety starts suddenly and is not related to the mating season or to territorial marking.

Don't change the routine of your cat and try not to modify your routine. Don't move his crate, food bowls or litter box.

Try to make your pet comfortable at all times and offer a lot of affection.


A cat that is jealous of a new pet or a new baby might signal this through spraying. The cat wants to draw the owner's attention and to impose his authority.


Cats that suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) or cysts may start spraying even if they're already neutered. The urination is painful and the cat thinks that the litter box is related to the pain, so he'll urinate in different places. You may also notice other symptoms such as:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Increased thirst
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Excessive licking of genital area
  • In some cases, urine in the blood

Visit the vet as soon as you detect these symptoms.

Change in Litter Brand

The reason your cat sprays all of a sudden might be because you changed his usual litter brand. The cat won't recognize his litter box because of the different odor of the new litter, so he'll choose other places to urinate. Switch back to your old litter brand.

To prevent cat spraying, don't change the litter brand and don't move the cat's litter box.

Dealing with Spraying

There are several solutions to stop feline spraying.

  • Neutering can work to correct your cat's behavior, if the spraying is used to mark territory or as a means of communication.
  • Pheromone diffusers may reduce the spraying behavior, in case you don't want to neuter your cat.
  • If the spraying is caused by a urinary infection, visit the vet immediately.
  • Try to comfort your cat and help him adapt to new situations, a new home or a new pet.
  • If the cat is overly stressed, the vet may prescribe therapy and anxiety medication.