Why Do Female Cats Spray? How To Stop Your Messy Feline

Akinwalere Olaleye
Nov 07, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
A beautiful tortoiseshell norwegian forest cat

Female cats spray more than males, and often as a sign of their sexual maturity.

There can also be other reasons like marking territory, unfamiliar routines or environments, stress, anxiety, and old age that can lead to cats spraying around the house. There are several ways to curb the female cat-spraying habit that leads to a truly unfortunate smell around the house.

The most obvious one is to neuter and spay the cats, which not only drastically decreases the frequency of spraying but also takes away the smell.

Others include using a collar, frequently cleaning the cat spraying area and the litter box, using positive reinforcement, getting the cats involved in more activities with physical exertion, and visiting the vet if the problem persists.

If you enjoyed this article on cat, why not also read about why do cats run away or why do cats have 9 lives here on Kidadl.

Why do female cats spray when in heat?

Female cats who spray in heat mostly do so to attract unneutered males.

Strong-smelling urine containing pheromone hormones is sprayed by female cats around the house when they're in heat, to get the attention of possible male cats for mating. In this manner, they are letting their availability to mate be known to other males.

Some female cats even go outside after spraying pheromone-laden urine inside the house to go look for mates. They may try to escape the confines of the house every chance they get.

Female cats spray during what is known as the estrous period. The estrous period is the reproductive cycle of females and it usually occurs after it becomes six months old or sometimes more than that. The occurrence of the cat's estrous cycle is also dependent on the breed of the cat.

During the estrous cycle, there are several 'heat' or estrus stages. During this stage, female cats are sexually receptive and more prone to spraying behavior.

The cat's estrous stage can last for six days or more. If the female cat cannot mate, it goes out of heat for a while. The estrous cycle can last for six weeks or even as short as three weeks.

Do neutered female cats spray?

Yes, female neutered cats can indeed spray. Neutering or spaying a female cat can change the odor or scent of the urine and definitely decreases the chances that they will spray, but some research has found that about 5% of spayed female cats continue urine-marking and spraying.

For these cats, it doesn't matter if they are housed alone or with other cats in a multi-cat household. They may spray for marking territory or there may be a health problem involved like an infection of the bladder.

If cat discharge seems accidental, it is wise to get your cat checked by a veterinarian. Becoming old and having arthritis can also cause the cat to struggle to get into the litter box and it may urinate outside it.

Also, cats, by nature are very clean animals. If they find dirty boxes, they will spray outside them. Also, the litter box needs to be in a place that is accessible to cats.

Using a different kind of litter can also stop them from going outside the box. If there are multiple cats in a household, it's best to use multiple litter boxes.

Cats can also be shy, especially the younger ones, so the litter box should be in a secluded space. There are other reasons that a neutered or spayed female might spray.

They like to be in control so if they are unhappy with something or are having anxiety and stress, spraying and the subsequent smell can make them feel confident. A change in lifestyle and routine may also annoy these furry creatures of habit into spraying.

Stress may also induce spraying behavior so you must try figuring what it is that is unsettling them.

Loneliness, scary neighbors, shutting windows and blinds, and insufficient affection are some other causes. Also, if a cat might seem to be spraying in the same spot, the odor from a previous spray may seem attractive to them.

It's imperative for you to clean out an area that has been sprayed on with soap and water or an odor and stain remover. Be sure to avoid bleach and ammonia-based cleaners since these will only attract the cat again.

A cute striped tabby gray female shorthaired cat

Do female and male cats spray to mark their territory?

Yes, both male and female cats are known to mark their territory by spraying. Cats may often mark the places where they live or visit frequently.

Marking can be done in other ways apart from spraying with urine like using the scent glands on the cheeks, face, feet, and tail. Depositing their mark and odor is to let everyone know that a particular territory was theirs.

Apart from ownership, releasing pheromones that advertise their sexual availability and readiness is another reason for marking a particular territory. Marking can happen indoors or outdoors and often in the vicinity of other cats.

There may be a rivalry between cats that live together in the same house, leading to different territorial claims.

Cats might also mark territories when they are under stress or if they feel threatened. Spraying may become routine but can also happen when households are being changed, routines are being altered, new and strange people are coming to the house, and other social and environmental changes.

Not even people's belongings are exempt from being marked as territory. There may be some conflict with multiple cats that like the same objects and spaces.

Cat urine is often seen near common locations around the house like doors, windows, and other borders. Male and female cats also mark outdoor territories with their urine, but usually around the borders and peripheries of their own houses, in gardens, and even trees.

One cat may even intrude on objects already marked by other cats. Male cat spraying is an event that does not happen as much as it does with females.

How do you stop a female cat from spraying?

There are many ways to get your female cat to stop spraying, including spaying them.

Spraying is a rather unpleasant occurrence and it leads to an unfortunate odor when it happens inside your house. Sometimes, furniture gets damaged, as do walls and carpeting.

Some ways to curb this spraying habit in your female cat include neutering your cat, finding out what's causing the cat stress, staying positive, using a collar, maintaining your surroundings, and possibly consulting a veterinarian.

One of the simplest ways to get your cat to stop spraying is spaying or neutering it. Neutered cats spraying is a rare occurrence because after neutering, the hormone levels diminish and decrease the urge to spray.

One of the reasons that a cat may be spraying is that they are feeling anxiety and stress. You should try to look out for things that are causing the cat to become stressed.

Some indications include stray or feral cats outside the house, cat droppings, dead birds, and rodents on the porch.

A feral cat may cause conflict and challenge the authority of a domestic pet cat. Also, you should try to find out if another pet animal in your house is bullying the pet cat or has an ongoing conflict.

Changes in the household makeup like a different layout, moving altogether, changing the cat's space or room in a household, moving their bowls or litter boxes, and not cleaning the litter box may also cause them to spray, so watch out for these.

Try to get the cat involved in more activities and exercise. Refrain from punishing or yelling at the animal when it sprays because this may cause your cat to spray more.

Places that the cat sprays frequently should be cleaned and washed and the cat should be encouraged to play there so it does not associate the area with spraying.

You could also use products like a diffuser, collars, and supplements to reduce the stress that a cat must be feeling. These products are very pleasing to a stressed cat and make it feel more secure.

If a cat goes on spraying in spite of all this, be sure to consult a veterinary doctor or a behavior specialist for advice.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do female cats spray, then why not take a look at why do cats arch their back or Persian cat facts?

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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