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Do Neutered Cats Spray? The Surprising Answer!

Cats are wonderful companions, but they do exhibit some quirks that must be dealt with accordingly. One common problem among cat-owning households is spraying, or urine marking. This can be frustrating, smelly, and a real hassle to clean up. While marking territory is one of the first things to come to mind as the reason for this behavior, cats spray for a variety of reasons.

Spraying is not specific to unaltered male cats. Neutered males and even females can also display this type of behavior. However, having your male cat neutered as soon as possible can prevent, dramatically reduce, or even eliminate this behavior in some cats.

divider-catclaw1Urine Marking

Cats communicate through scent. This is a completely natural behavior that is quite troublesome when you have a cat that is kept indoors and is displaying the behavior all over your home. Cats leave behind their scent not just with urine but through scent glands located on their feet, cheeks, face, and tails. This is your cat’s way of telling others where they have been and sending certain messages to others.

male norwegian forest cat peeing outdoor
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Spray or Urine Mark?

As mentioned, urine marking is a cat’s way of communicating something. This behavior is a result of their communication methods and their unique social structure. It is much more common in multiple cat households but can occur in single cat households as well. Urine marking is most observed in intact male cats but can be displayed in neutered males and females. In fact, approximately 10 percent of neutered males and 5 percent of females display regular spraying behavior.

Reasons for Urine Marking

  • Territorial marking
  • Attracting a mate
  • Stress or discomfort
  • They feel threatened

How to Tell the Difference Between Spraying and Peeing?

When cats spray, they will generally only deposit small amounts of urine on objects and surfaces. They will spray on both vertical and horizontal surfaces and typically target more centrally located items or items that are new and have not yet been exposed to their smell.

Because they wish to spread their pheromones and make themselves known, spraying isn’t done in private, secure areas like urination. Though some cats that display spraying behavior may also urinate outside the litter box. When spraying, your cat will simply back up to an object, lift its tail, release the urine, and walk away. They will not attempt to cover what they have done as they would in the litter box. The smell of urine marking is typically more pungent.

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cat sitting with pee on couch
Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

How Is Urine Marking Treated?

Not all hope is lost if you have a sprayer in the house. There are some things you can try to help put a stop to this behavior. Treating this problem is all about decreasing the cat’s motivation for spraying, so determining the reason is very important.

Spay/Neuter

As mentioned, urine marking isn’t specific to intact males. Females and neutered males have been known to spray as well. However, the percentage of females and neutered males that spray is drastically low in comparison to the incident in unaltered males.

Intact males are going to be more territorial and will want to attract females with their pheromones. The best thing you can do for your cat is to have them spayed or neutered. This alone can solve spraying behaviors.

Though it’s not fully guaranteed, neutering does put a stop to spraying that is done for reproductive purposes. The sooner they are neutered, the better. This can prevent the behavior altogether if done before they reach sexual maturity.

Having your cat altered doesn’t just help with spraying, there are other health and behavioral benefits associated with having this done.

cat with pee stain on the carpet
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Keep Things Closed

If your cat is feeling territorial, they may be spraying to mark their territory because they can see and hear what’s going on outside. You can try closing windows, blinds, and doors to keep your indoor kitty from seeing, hearing, and smelling other neighborhood cats.

Deter Neighborhood Cats from Your Yard

Keeping away the neighborhood cats that roam around freely is important. Try to utilize a motion-detection device to a sprinkler to deter intruders. You will also want to avoid feeding any strays or neighborhood wanderers, no matter how tempting it is.

norwegian forest cat peeing in the garden
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Clean Thoroughly

Clean up urine marking thoroughly by using an enzymatic cleaner made for pet urine. These cleaners will help neutralize and remove the odor.  Sometimes removing the leftover scent will help reduce a cat’s urge to spray the area again.

Do Not Punish Your Cat

Do not punish your cat for spraying. Punishment is only going to add to your cat’s stress, which can BE counterproductive towards your goal. Cats do not respond to training the same way that dogs do but as with dogs, positive reinforcement is always best.

Treating Spraying in a Multiple Cat Household

If you are struggling with spraying behavior and you own multiple cats, this can pose a bit of a challenge. You may want to reach out to your veterinarian for some guidance with this kind of problem but here’s a list of suggestions to help you handle the situation.

  • Try and determine which cat is spraying
  • Ensure there are enough litter boxes in the home for each cat. It is recommended to have one per cat plus an additional.
  • Make sure the litter boxes are in comfortable, low-traffic areas and keep up with regular cleaning.
  • Make sure food and water bowls, perches, and cat toys are distributed evenly among all household cats to prevent quarrels and ensure they have their personal space.
  • Try synthetic pheromone sprays such as Feliway to help reduce stress and the unwanted behaviors associated with it
  • Contact your veterinarian about supplements or medications that could help with the behavior.

divider-catclaw1Final Thoughts

Neutered cats and even females do sometimes spray though the occurrence is much less likely than with an intact male. The best thing you can do to prevent any spraying behavior is to have your male cat neutered as soon as possible and before they reach sexual maturity. Don’t give up hope if you have a sprayer, as there are some tips and tricks you can try to help stop the behavior. Of course, you can always reach out to your veterinarian with these concerns if you have trouble treating the behavior at home.

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