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Why Cats Spray

Spraying is usually a stress based reaction, from threat to territory. Cat spraying is a common form of feline territory marking, similar in nature to facial rubbing and scratching. To spray, a cat usually backs up to a wall, window, furniture or any vertical surface and emits a horizontal stream of urine. Typically the feline will raise and twitch its tail, paw its back feet, and at least partially arch its back. The amount of urine sprayed varies but is usually less than when the cat urinates in a litter tray. While male cat spraying behavior is most common, female cats will also spray as well. Sterilized pets will typically be half as likely to spray as unsterilized ones. 

Pets may stand and spray urine similar to marking when having medical problems; have your pet checked by a veterinarian to rule out medical causes for marking and spraying. While most territorial spraying and territory marking is on vertical surfaces, cats will sometimes squat when marking.

cat spraying or marking posture

Most urination or elimination on a flat or horizontal surface is caused by factors such as physical ailments or dirty litter trays. An offending cat should be examined by a Veterinarian to identify or rule out medical causes, such as a bladder or urinary tract infection. Cat spraying is only one form of behavioral "inappropriate elimination".

  • Most cats are obsessed with their space and territory.

  • Spraying is usually a reaction to a threat to territory.

To the cat, this behavior is instinctual. Free roaming cats in the wild routinely spray to define territory with their own scent. Indoor cat spraying for marking reasons is usually a reaction to a stressful situation or environment. This can result from the introduction of an additional cat, a cat seen or heard outside, fighting or hierarchy challenges with other cats, or a change or interruption in the household routine (such as moving, new or missing members, noisy activities, house guests, or different schedules).

Neutered or spayed felines generally spray less, as cats will spray for breeding reasons. Spraying problems are typically proportional to the number of cats sharing the same space. Approximately 10% of all neutered adult males and 5% of all spayed adult females habitually, even after being spayed or neutered

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