That nasty cat spray smell couldn't be your little girl cat's fault, could it? While male kitties have a bad reputation for spraying urine markings, females do it too. You can reduce the chances by having your pet spayed, but even some fixed females engage in this nefarious behavior.
There are plenty of differences between the anatomy of male and female cats, but the ability to leave scent markings is not one of them. Both kitty girls and guys have glands in their cheeks, paws and near their bladder that produce a liquid containing pungent chemicals. You may not notice an odor when your kitty rubs her cheek on your hand, but you'll definitely notice one if she starts spraying. Urine marking has an acrid and offensive smell. If your cat's rogue urinating doesn't smell particularly bad, she may not be marking at all. Cats avoid litter boxes that are dirty or if they don't like the litter.
Causes of Spraying
The primary purpose of feline urine marking is to establish boundaries and attract mates. Spayed females rarely display a desire to find a mate, but they may still have a strong territorial urge. Introducing new animals, or even a new chair, to the household can trigger territorial tendencies in your pet, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Frustration from stress can also prompt your kitty to spray sporadically. Not getting enough rest, playtime or a change in diet could be the source of stress-induced spraying. The risk of a cat spraying increases if there are multiple felines in the home.
Risk and Prevention
Statistically speaking, your innocent Miss Kitty is much less likely to spray than a boy. About 1 in 20 fixed females leave urine markings, which is only about half the number of neutered males who do it, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine reports. Having your cat fixed by the time she is 5 to 6 months old can prevent spraying altogether. Intact cats are more than two times as likely to spray compared to fixed felines. After your cat reaches puberty and her hormones kick in, it may be hard to stop her from spraying even after she's fixed. If your cat does leave a urine marking somewhere, clean it up as soon as possible so she doesn't make it a habit. This is particularly important if you have more than one cat, because one spraying could prompt the others to do it too.
If your cat continues to spray after her spay operation, then removing stress factors may be the solution. Give your kitty a quiet and secluded place to sleep. Make sure she has a scratching post and a few toys to play with when no one's home. If your cat tends to mark only one spot, try moving her food and water dishes there. Cats don't like to mark where they eat, according to University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine. You can also try putting aluminum foil or spraying cat repellant over the place she usually marks. If all else fails, talk to your vet about treatment options for correcting this behavior.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.