Spraying is one of the less-attractive habits that cats can develop over time. Males are much more likely to spray than females. At what age do cats start to spray?
Cats, especially males, start to spray around six months of age. This timing aligns with their sexual maturity. Your pet may start spraying at this time to mark his or her territory. Spaying or neutering your kitten can decrease the chance of spraying by up to 95%.
Cats spray for a multitude of reasons that range from territorial behavior to medical issues. Read on to discover the details of why and when cats spray and how to solve it.
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When Do Male Cats Start To Spray?
Cats begin to spray about the time that they become sexually mature. They tend to spray on vertical items, such as a tree outdoors or a wall indoors. They use the spray as a way to mark their territory, declaring ownership over the fence, rock, or doorway of their choosing.
If your pet is allowed outdoors, they may spend time rubbing against items near the front doorway and spraying them. This activity spreads their scent over the area, declaring the house as ‘their property.’
Felines also spray around this time to announce to other cats that they are looking for a mate. The spraying may be accompanied by some meows and other vocalizations and calls to let nearby cats know your cat is sexually mature.
Do Female Cats Spray?
While it is more common for male cats to spray, females can as well. Female cats often start spraying around sexual maturity (6 months) for the same reason as males. They can spray indoors or outdoors, though outdoors may be more common if your female is attempting to mate with wild males.
Why Do Cats Spray?
Female and male cats can also spray for other reasons than sexual maturity. These involve behavioral issues and medical reasons. Your cat might be calling for a mate, or they could be expressing their frustration with something around them.
Some felines can develop behavioral issues throughout their lives. They could be traumatized by a certain event that causes them to mark their territory on overdrive. A fight with a neighborhood cat or dog could cause this. You may see heightened spraying activity around the exterior of the house in this case.
Your pet may also be perturbed by a recent change in the living space. A move to a new house, a new animal or human moving into the home or a new cat is moving into the neighborhood. If a cat takes a particular dislike to a new human in the home, they may even go so far as to spray on the person’s leg or lap.
Your cat could also be stressed because one of his favorite hangouts is destroyed or adjusted. If your cat loves to hang out in a specific tree, and it gets cut down, they can take that out in the form of stress-induced spraying to re-mark their territory.
Medical Reasons for Spraying
Many medical issues can arise that will cause your cat to have issues with proper elimination. One of the most common of these is inflammation of the urinary tract. This infection makes urinating extremely painful and increases the cat’s urge to urinate. They may express themselves more often and all over the house instead of their litter box. This inflammation is often treated with steroids or oral antibiotics.
Other issues include:
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid issues
- Feline diabetes
- FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease)
The Difference Between Spraying and Urinating
It’s important to determine that your cat is spraying before seeking council to address the issue. People often think their pet is spraying because it is a commonly mentioned term, when in fact, their animal is having issues with regular urination.
Spraying is a largely territorial behavior that can sometimes be caused by infection or disease. Inappropriate urination is often caused by some issue with the litter box but can also be a sign of serious kidney disease or diabetes.
To determine which action your cat is taking, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much liquid is there? Spraying involves a much smaller amount of liquid excreted in a fine mist over an object or surface. Urination involves a larger puddle of liquid on the floor or another horizontal surface.
- Is the mark on a vertical surface? Cats spray on vertical surfaces, such as the back of a couch or chair or the edge of a doorway. Urination is expelled onto a horizontal surface, like the floor or a pile of clothes.
- Is your cat standing to pee? When cats spray to mark their territory, they stand and arch their back, wiggle their claws, and back their rear end up to the surface, and the spray lands vertically on the object behind them. By leaving their scent at this height, other cats are sure to smell it when they walk by.
When urinating, cats squat to pee, which is why the puddle lands on the ground, not the wall.
How To Get Your Cat To Stop Spraying
The most effective way to get your cat to stop spraying is to neuter them. The hormones produced in the testicles are what drives the animal to be territorial. By neutering your pet, you remove these hormones, which lower the drive to spray immensely.
If your cat is spraying because they are stressed, then consult with your vet about calming medications you can give your cat to lower their stress levels. You should then examine the home to try and determine what the igniting factor may be.
If you have introduced a new person to the home, try and get them and the cat more comfortable with each other. The person can spend more time in the home while giving the cat its space. This shows respect and can hopefully create a more comfortable bond between the two.
If a new pet is an issue, you may have to separate them for a while. You can give your feline their room for a while or help them create a safe place they can call their own. Cats like high perches and enclosed spaces, so an elevated cat tower is a favorite for felines that need their own space.
A new neighborhood cat can be a harder trigger to solve. This may be a cause of spraying that will need to be waited out. If your cat is only spraying outdoors, then you can let them continue to do so and hope that the two animals become accustomed to each other over time.
What To Do if Your Cat Won’t Stop Spraying
If you’ve tried to adjust things in your home and your cat won’t stop spraying, then neutering or spaying your cat is the best option. If this is unwanted or has already been done, then consult with your vet to get ideas on the next best course of action. Some cats will spray for months and simply stop one day; others may spray while ill and stop with medication.
Some cats will spray for the rest of their lives, unfortunately. In that case, you’ll need to take defensive measures to save your furniture and walls from being hit. A cat in these circumstances might be restricted to a single room in the house but given free rein outdoors.
Cats can start spraying from the time of sexual maturity into adulthood and beyond. While cats most commonly start to spray around six months of age, they can also start spraying at any point in their lives. This messy habit can be triggered by changes in the household or neighborhood or disease onset.
- Cornell University: Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling
- Healthy Pet Club: Spraying in Cats
- VCA: Cat Behavior and Training: Cat Neutering and Behavior
- Cornell University: Feline Diabetes
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.