Do male and female cats spray?

Depositing a small amount of urine on a vertical surface is a natural behavior of cats. This is done to mark the area with the cat’s distinct smell. This behavior is called spraying. Both male and female cats spray. This marking behavior is a non-verbal form of feline communication.

How do cats spray and how is it differentiated from inappropriate urination? Spraying is not a litter box problem. Cats that have not learned to use the litter box would commonly squat to deposit urine on blankets, on the owner’s discarded clothes or on the floor. Spraying on the other hand is urine deposited on vertical surfaces such as doors, walls or on furniture. To spray, a cat will turn its back on a vertical surface and with the quivering tail up in the air and with a rapt expression on the face it would shoot a small amount of smelly urine on the chosen spot. Spraying is different from urinating as the cat does not really need to pee. A cat that wants to eliminate would pee on the floor or on the litter box. Spraying, as mentioned is a form of communication. The female or male cat that squirts a small amount of urine wants to communicate with other cat or with its human family. Typically, spraying is triggered by sexual excitement. Male and female cats that are unhappy, stressed or frustrated with a situation or with their environment would spray too.

Spraying or urine marking can be a manifestation of the cat’s sexual excitement. It will be noticed that cats spray more often during the mating season. In a household where there is a tom cat and a female cat in heat, both cats will be inclined to spray. The urine mark is typically at the nose level of cats. The male cat would spray to manifest its claim on the territory. The female cat will spray to let male cats in the vicinity know that it is ready to accept sexual partners. Spraying that is triggered by territorial claim is more common in male cats. Male cats would start to spray as soon as they have attained sexual maturity. The inclination to spray can be triggered by stress or anxiety. Spraying is more common in a multi-cat household as fight for territory, for toys, for food and even for the affection of the owners would be very stressful to cats. Change in the cat’s environment can trigger spraying as well. The cat would start spraying if a new pet was introduced. A transfer to a new home will make the cat spray too because it would want to mark the new territory with its distinct smell.

Spraying is a common concern of cat owners. Fortunately, there are ways to control the cat’s inclination to spray. Getting the cat fixed is believed to be the easiest remedy. Neutering removes the cats’ sexual organs and renders the animals incapable of reproduction. Spraying associated with sexual excitement would therefore be significantly decreased. The neutering procedure is best done before the cat attains sexual maturity as it is believed that it has not yet adapted the spraying behavior. Neutering older cats may not have the desired effects as the procedure would not totally eliminate the cat’s inclination to spray. Spraying can be triggered by stress. Cat owners have to know what stresses the pet and try to minimize the stressful situation. Anti-anxiety drugs can effectively prevent the cat from spraying but drugs must be given only upon the recommendation of the vet. Pheromone products can be used to manage the cat’s stress related spraying. Mechanical devices that release a spray upon detection of the cat’s motion can be used as well to control the cat’s inclination to spray.