Though male cats are most commonly known for spraying their territory, female cats can spray as well. The myth that they don’t has led to consternation for many pet owners. It’s important to understand that inappropriate urination and spraying are two different behaviors.
Spraying involves placing urine vertically along your windows or walls, while inappropriate urination involves urinating in a puddle. Spraying is a way of marking territory, while inappropriate urination can be a medical issue or litter box problem.
Why Female Cats Spray
Territorial cats mark their territory through spraying. Cats who haven’t been neutered, along with cats in multi-cat households, have a higher likelihood of spraying. Some cats instinctively spray upon seeing another cat, even if the other cat is only glimpsed through the window.
Cats need to make sure their territory is marked with their scent. It’s a way of proclaiming that they own the territory. Besides spraying, they also accomplish this by leaving scratches and rubbing their faces against your furniture, walls, and other places.
Spraying As a Sign of Anxiety
So if spraying is instinctive, why don’t all cats do it?
Some cats have stronger instincts than others. Experts have found that a stronger instinct to mark territory generally correlates to higher anxiety levels. If your female cat has begun spraying when she didn’t before, this most likely means that a new factor in her environment is causing heightened anxiety.
Marking territory helps a cat feel calmer. Cats need to know that they own the space they’re in. Most commonly, increased spraying happens because there’s conflict with another cat. If you’ve recently introduced another cat to your home, this could be a reason your cat is spraying. It could also be due to your cat seeing neighboring cats through the window.
Cats might also feel more nervous when there’s a change to their routine. When you bring your cat to the vet, they may feel as if their general security has been disrupted. New people in the environment may also make a cat nervous. A new cat sitter, a new roommate, a significant other moving in, or a new baby are all common reasons for a cat to feel disrupted.
Cats may also begin spraying if you go on vacation for a while. Being without their owner can cause heightened anxiety. Domestic cats consider humans to be colony members. You inhabit the same space, and your cat feels the need to protect you. They may also feel dependent on you for things like food and water. If your cat is suddenly without you for a significant period of time, they’re more likely to get anxious because they don’t understand that you’ll come back.
Cleaning the Spray
Experts say that one of the most important things is cleaning up the area that’s been affected. In the wild, cats remark their territory as the urine scent fades over time. If you fail to clean up the area, your cat will just continue spraying. Because cats spray in locations that are socially significant to them, the goal is for the signal to be strong enough to smell.
It’s important to clean the urine properly. Cat urine is more difficult to clean up than other forms of urine. You have to use an enzyme-based cleaner. If you use an ammonia-based cleaner, you’ll just make the problem worse. Ammonia cleaners smell like urine to your cat and attract them.
If your cat has begun spraying unexpectedly, it may also be time for a vet visit. It’s important to test for medical conditions that may be heightening your cat’s anxiety. Any painful medical condition can elevate the anxiety of your cat.
The next step is to identify the triggers that produce anxiety and eliminate them. You may have to block your cat’s view of a window if they’re seeing a neighbor cat. For multi-cat households, each cat should have their own litter box and bed, along with their own food bowl and toys.
Alternatives to Spraying
Cats need enrichment to work out their energy and claim ownership of their territory. You can reduce your cat’s anxiety by making stable routines around feeding, play, and sleep. It’s also important to provide environmental enrichment through vertical spaces.
A cat tree is one of the best ways to accomplish this. You can also install shelves for your cat to climb. Many cats are tree dwellers who like being able to sit up high and observe their territory. Being on the ground all the time can make a cat feel threatened. Introducing vertical spaces gives your cat a space that they own alone.
Choosing a Cat Spray Cleaner
When you select an odor remover, you should keep a few things in mind.
The first is the concentration. Highly concentrated products are ideal if you’re putting sprayed clothes into the washing machine or adding it to a diluted carpet cleaner. However, you may want a lighter concentration if you’re spraying the cleaner directly onto your carpet, walls, or furniture.
You also want to consider the safety. Concentrated products are more potent, and therefore can be more toxic and dangerous.
Best Cleaners for Cat Spray
|#1. Rocco & Roxie|
|#2. Simple Solution|
|#3. Nature’s Miracle|
It’s important to pick out a cleaner that can do the whole job.
The best overall cleaner is the Rocco and Roxie Professional Strength odor eliminator. Since the spray is enzyme activated, it penetrates to the stench’s roots. It’s also gentle on your furniture’s colors and free of odors.
Nature’s Miracle Just for Cat Stains is another great pick that penetrates to the heart of the issue. The best choice if you’re on a budget is the Simple Solution Pet Stain and Odor Remover.