Why Do Cats Spray? Understanding Your Cat’s Marking Behavior and Solutions

Cats have a tendency to mark their territory and belongings with their scent, a behavior known as “marking.” Spraying is a specific type of marking where cats urinate to make their scent noticeable, often to a noticeable degree not just for other cats but for their owners and visitors as well. Many cat owners struggle with their cat’s spraying behavior, so in this article, we will discuss the reasons behind this behavior and provide solutions to help stop it.

✨ What is Cat Spraying Behavior?

Cat spraying behavior is a form of marking that cats use to assert their presence. In addition to spraying, cats also mark their territory through other behaviors such as scratching and rubbing their faces on objects to leave their scent.

During spraying, the cat will stand upright with its tail raised and spray urine on vertical objects such as walls or furniture. In the home, it is common for cats to spray on walls or furniture. After spraying, the cat may also shake its tail and paw at the sprayed area.

The amount of urine sprayed during this behavior is smaller compared to a regular urination, but it is characterized by its unique and strong odor. Male cats, in particular, have a strong odor in their urine spray due to the presence of species-specific substances.

It is important to differentiate between cat spraying behavior and litter box issues, as the behavior and meaning behind each is different.

✨ Why Do Cats Spray?

Cats may spray for a variety of reasons, including as a natural instinct or as a response to social stress.

As a natural instinct, spraying can serve as a means of communication for marking territory, attracting mates, or asserting dominance. This behavior may be triggered by the presence of other cats, such as housemates or strays outside the window.

If a cat is spraying frequently inside the home, it may be a sign of dissatisfaction with its living environment or the presence of stress. It’s important to address these issues to ensure the well-being and comfort of your feline friend.

✨ Do Female Cats Spray Too?

Indoor cat spraying is a common problem behavior that is more commonly seen in male cats, but female cats can also exhibit this behavior. In fact, spraying is a behavior that can be seen in both male and female wild cats living outside. Both male and female cats spray to mark their territory and to advertise their presence, as well as to attract a better mate.

While neutering is known to be effective in reducing spraying in male cats, spaying is also effective in reducing this behavior in female cats.

✨ When Does a Cat’s Spraying Behavior Last?

The cat’s spraying behavior is related to their “heat period.”

Spraying behavior serves to advertise their presence, but during heat periods, the intention becomes stronger. As a result, spraying behavior is more commonly seen during heat periods.

When exactly does a cat’s heat period last? Cats go into their breeding season from spring to summer when the weather becomes warm. Specifically, the breeding season begins around January when the day length begins to extend, and it can last until September. Especially, the breeding season peaks from February to April and June to August, and during those times, it is possible to see kittens outdoors. The heat period of female cats is related to the day length, and it is said that they go into heat when the day length exceeds 14 hours. The reason is that the survival rate of kittens is higher if they are born in a warm season with abundant food instead of a cold season with less food and cold weather. This mechanism is triggered not only by sunlight but also by artificial lighting.

Only female cats go into heat related to day length. Male cats are stimulated by the calls and pheromones of female cats in heat and go into heat. In other words, spraying behavior related to the heat period is thought to last from spring to summer for a long period.

Spraying behavior is not just a sexual behavior, but also an appeal to other cats, so it does not necessarily occur only during the heat period. Spraying behavior is often seen during the heat period, but it is considered that it is always possible to occur in general.

✨ How to Stop Cat Spraying Behavior?

Cat spraying is a natural behavior in cats, but it can be reduced through neutering or spaying. If the behavior is caused by stress in the environment, it’s important to identify and remove the cause. Let’s look at some specific methods to stop cat spraying.

❂ Neutering or Spaying Before the Heat Cycle

Male cat spraying behavior is influenced by the hormone androgen, so neutering is effective. Spaying female cats can also improve spraying behavior. It is estimated that neutering reduces spraying behavior by 90% in males and 95% in females, and also improves vocalizing and some anxiety behaviors during the heat cycle. Neutering can also improve aggressive behavior in males.

When is the best time to have neutering or spaying done for the best results in reducing spraying behavior and other problems? Universities in North America recommend early neutering at 8 to 14 weeks of age. At the very least, it is best to have the procedure done before the first heat cycle. Cats typically reach sexual maturity at 6 to 9 months of age, so it’s important to have the procedure done before then if possible. Although neutering or spaying is common now, there are risks associated with the procedure, so it is best to consult with a veterinarian.

❂ Removing Stress

If spraying behavior is caused by stress in the environment, it is important to identify and remove the source of stress. For example, if a cat is anxious because it cannot freely enter and exit its living space and is constantly worried about outdoor cats entering the house, it is necessary to block the entry and exit points to ensure the cat feels secure. If there are too many cats in a household and they do not have enough personal space, some cats may experience social stress and begin spraying. In this case, it may be necessary to fundamentally change the environment by moving the cat to a different room or finding it a new home.

✨ Conclusion

Spraying can be a way for cats to mark their territory, act sexually, or show how they feel about themselves. To keep your cat from spraying too much, you should have it neutered or spayed before it gets sexually mature. It is also important to consult with a veterinarian as the spraying behavior is related to both male and female cats. Additionally, cat spraying can be caused by environmental stress, anxiety, or dissatisfaction, so it’s crucial to be aware of other stray or cohabitating cats. To solve the spraying behavior, there are products that utilize feline pheromones, so it’s wise to utilize them effectively.

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