Your feline’s quirks and behaviors are unique. While every cat is different, a common behavior may indicate something more is going on. As a cat owner, you want your best friend to be happy and healthy. But you might not always know what your cat is trying to communicate. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about the ultimate question – why do cats spray? Along the way she provides, tips to help prevent your cat from marking in the future.
Why do cats spray?
Cats exhibit different behaviors on a daily basis, like scratching, biting, and meowing. Nold weighs in on cat spraying here:
“Cat spraying can be a normal behavior but is typically considered unacceptable when household possessions are targeted. Often “cat spraying” is used to describe urine being deposited on vertical surfaces while a cat is in a standing position, but to complicate the topic it can also occur on horizontal surfaces. Intact cats spray to signal availability for mating. However, neutered cats can also spray and other factors, including illness, can trigger spraying. For example, urine spraying can sometimes be seen in cats with hyperthyroidism.”
Although spraying is common, the meaning behind it could indicate an illness, a stressor, or mating, just to name a few. If your cat is starting to spray, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They can help determine the reason why and the best course of action for your furry friend.
The impact of stress on your cat
A simple change in your home can make quite an impact on your feline friend. If your cat is stressed, they make act out in unconventional ways. “Stress and anxiety is a common cause of cat spraying. Many things can cause stress/anxiety for an indoor cat, from seeing outdoor cats through the window to rearranging your furniture,” says Nold.
As a cat owner, it is important to understand why the cat is spraying and if there is something you can do to help change that behavior.
Consider keeping a journal to notate where and when they spray, as you may find an indicator of the reason behind the marking. In addition, share your notes with your veterinarian as they may help in a treatment plan.
Tips to prevent cat spraying
A cat-friendly home and a tidy pet space may help when your pet is experiencing stress. Consider prepping your home and having an outlet for your cat to play and interact. “Environmental enrichment helps to reduce stress and thus can help to prevent cat spraying. However, it is not uncommon for cats that do spray to require behavioral medication in combination with environmental enrichment,” points out Nold.
What do you do if you have a multi-cat household?
If you have multiple cats in your home, it could be one or all of the furry friends marking their space. Nold breaks down how to determine which cat is spraying:
“It is important in households with multiple cats that the correct cat is identified. Recording video of the targeted area is the most reliable way to determine which cat is spraying. There also may be more than one cat spraying.”
Depending on the severity of your cat’s spraying, it may take time to deter any unwanted behaviors. By notating any behavior changes, providing a cat-friendly space, and keeping your veterinarian informed, you can help your cat achieve optimum wellness.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.