Having a cat sometimes means coming home to strange smells. Whether it’s a used litter box or your cat has sprayed, it’s time to get to work on that smell. It can be difficult to tell if your cat is spraying when you aren’t around, and many people wonder what exactly that spray will smell like.
Cat spray doesn’t normally smell like poop. Each cat has their own spray scent that it can use to mark its territory. The smell of cat spray will stand out to you as more than just urine because it contains chemicals used to communicate to other animals that this is their territory only.
Let’s take a closer look at what cat spray actually smells like and why your cat may be spraying.
What Does Cat Spray Smell Like?
Cat spray usually has a strong and pungent urine smell. The exact scent is unique to every cat, but the overwhelming scent that you will pick up on will be urine. If you have had a few cats, you may be aware that the smell of their urine can differ depending on the cat.
Those differences can carry over to spray.
When cats spray, it’s an intentional act meant to send the message that they’re unhappy about something and is meant to get the attention of everyone, including animals, nearby. So it’s no surprise that it smells strong.
Cat spray often smells slightly different than their normal urine. This is because it is a mixture of urine and other chemicals their body produces to send those messages.
Cats are no strangers to sending messages with pheromones. When they rub against you or an object in your home, they’re actually spreading their scent on you, which lets you and other cats know that you’ve been claimed.
However, their spray is a mix of chemicals that’s going to smell completely different from other pheromones. You’ll most likely notice the smell of spray right away as it’s made to stand out. Imagine urine but stronger, which is what spray smells like.
Why Is My Cat Spraying?
Cats spray to show that they’re upset by something going on in their home. This can be caused by another pet being introduced, a new person, moving to a different location, or anything having to do with changes to their situation that can make them upset, uncomfortable, or anxious.
Introducing a new family member can be hard.
Whether it’s a newborn baby or a brand new pet, your cat may not appreciate the addition. If you notice a pungent smell around the home, there’s a good chance your cat may be spraying. This is intended to show their displeasure for what’s happening.
Feline Disagreements Can Cause Spraying
There doesn’t have to be a new family member to upset your cat. They may be fighting with an existing pet. We all fight with our family members sometimes, and cats are no different. If these disagreements continue long-term, then cats can act out by spraying in a shared space.
This is meant to be a warning for the other pet to let them know that your cat is upset with them and wants them to stay away.
Moving Might Trigger Spraying
Sometimes spraying can be caused by something as simple as a location change. If your pet was happy in your previous location, going somewhere new can be traumatic for them. Some cats can adapt rather easily, but others aren’t as lucky.
In a new space, don’t be surprised if you notice your cat is spraying. This is meant to show displeasure with the new living arrangements.
It also serves to mark their territory as they may be worried about another animal coming along.
There isn’t always a definite answer for why your cat is spraying. Compared to our lives, our cats have a pretty small world. This means that problems we may not even notice can seriously upset our cats and leave us wondering what’s creating this changed behavior.
Pay Attention To Small Changes
If you notice your cat is spraying, pay attention to any small changes occurring in your home. Something as simple as a schedule change or a new relationship can make your cat nervous or anxious and cause them to spray.
Pay attention to these possible changes to figure out why your cat may be acting out.
What Should I Do if My Cat Is Spraying?
If your cat is spraying, make sure they have a clean litter box of their own, ensure they are neutered, try a diffuser, and ensure they have their own food and water. The correct fix will vary depending on the root cause of the spraying.
Let’s now talk about some options to try that can help cover a host of issues.
Your Cat Urinates Outside the Litter Box
You’ll want to determine if your cat is spraying or peeing outside their litter box. There’s a big difference between the two, and they both have different solutions.
If you notice that your cat is no longer urinating in their litter box and the spots you find are full urine puddles, then this isn’t a spraying issue. Your cat is urinating outside of the litter box, which can be fixed by ensuring they have complete access to their own clean litter box at all times.
Spraying Might Need a Different Solution
If your cat is spraying rather than urinating outside of their litter box, you will first need to ensure they’re neutered. Cats that are neutered and spayed are less likely to spray than those that aren’t.
Though this isn’t a guaranteed fix, only about 10% of neutered male cats will continue spraying, and 5% of spayed female cats will continue spraying. So, getting your cat spayed or neutered can make a significant difference in spraying.
Try a Cat Diffuser
The next option to help with spraying is to try a cat diffuser.
These products work by mimicking pheromones that cats produce when they’re marking areas in their home by rubbing against them. The pheromones they produce can make cats feel safe and comfortable and help them calm down.
Keep in mind that diffusers aren’t guaranteed to work depending on your cat. However, there’s no harm in trying them out. They’re very popular in multi-cat homes and have even been able to help cats with anxiety or separation issues as it helps keep them calm.
Make Sure There Are Sufficient Resources
In multi-cat homes, you want to make sure that each cat has their own resources.
For example, one food and water bowl for a two-cat home aren’t going to cut it. Each cat should have their own food and water bowl to ensure it can eat and drink whenever they want to without interruption or feeling unsafe.
Cats can be bad at sharing, and having a shared food or water bowl can make a cat feel like they need to have a “survival of the fittest” mentality. Giving them each a food and water bowl that they can access anytime they want will help make them feel safer and help with spraying.
Also, don’t forget to make sure that you have enough litter boxes.
As a general rule, you should have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. This means that a three-cat household should have four litter boxes to ensure each cat has their own private space.
If cats don’t feel like they have enough resources available, they’ll normally notify you by spraying.
If you want some more information regarding how many litter boxes your cats need, check out this YouTube video by Jackson Galaxy. It goes into more detail about how many litter boxes you need and why they’re so important:
Though spray smell can vary based on your cat, it won’t smell like poop.
The spray will smell like a very intense urine smell, even stronger than what you normally experience when scooping their litter box. Make sure you take the time to figure out why your cat may be spraying, then follow my tips to ensure their needs are met.
The best way to get your cat to stop spraying is to make them feel comfortable again.
- ASPCA: Urine Marking In Cats
- VCA Hospitals: Cat Behavior Problems – Marking and Spraying Behavior
- Fetch by WebMD: Cat Spraying: Why It Happens And What to Do About It
- Fetch by WebMD: Pet Pheromone Products for Behavior Problems: Do They Work?
- Manhattan Cat Specialists: Urine Spraying and Marking Advice
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.