Why Do Cats Spray Inside?

Spraying is a messy, yet unsurprising, feline behavior.
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If you're a cat lover, you probably at some point have encountered feline spraying. The behavior, icky as it may be, is completely normal for cats, especially if they haven't been fixed. Indoor spraying can occur due to a variety of reasons, one being territorial conflict.


Mating is one of the primary culprits behind urine spraying in cats, male and female. When a tomcat is about 6 months old or so, he becomes fully sexually mature. At this time, many mating behaviors begin, one of them being urine spraying. When a male cat sprays urine, he does so to leave behind his scent -- a chemical way to communicate to queens that he is ready for mating. When cats are in this mode, they usually are extremely restless and eager to go outside. When they're not allowed outdoors, indoor spraying often is the frustrating result.

Queen cats also engage in urine spraying, although perhaps with slightly less frequency. When female cats become sexually mature around roughly the same time period as males, they go into their first "heat" cycles. During heat, queens spray urine as a technique to lure in male cats, essentially saying, "I'm here and I'm ready to mate. Notice me, please."

Territorial Conflict

Territorial conflict also is the root of many cat urine spraying incidents. When a cat sprays urine, he often is communicating via sending a "scent" message. Territorial spraying is highly common in situations of multiple-cat households. When a newbie enters a resident cat's turf, the latter cat may spray his scent as a sly way to make sure everyone knows who exactly is the boss. Conflict is a big problem when a new cat enters into a household with other cats, and it sometimes triggers persistent marking habits and even aggression.


Anxiety also can lead your precious pet to forsake his litter box in favor of annoying spraying. When a cat is experiencing a significant amount of stress in his life, litter box problems often become the name of the game. One of the biggest triggers of kitty stress is change. Cats don't react well to newness and unfamiliarity, whether it's moving to a strange new apartment, dealing with a wailing newborn infant or the presence of a loud and hyperactive Maltese puppy. Loss also can bring upon stress in felines, such as the sudden absence of a longtime fellow-cat companion. When a cat feels like his world has been turned totally upside down, he just may react by house soiling, which may now cause you to be the anxious one.

Neutering and Spraying

If your cat's spraying habit is giving you a big headache and you don't see it ending any time soon, consider getting him fixed. In general, fixing a cat will end his hormonally-driven urine spraying, although the behavior may take a month or two to subside fully. If your cat is a kitten, consult his veterinarian on the best appropriate time to neuter him. Apart from likely ending your spraying dilemma, you also will be doing your part in controlling feline overpopulation.

Medical Conditions

Persistent indoor spraying sometimes also is an indication of a medical condition. Never rule this possibility out with your pet, for his safety's sake. Spraying woes can be a symptom of everything from urinary tract infection to kidney stones, both potentially harmful ailments in felines. To be on the safe side, schedule an appointment with the vet for a full physical examination as soon as possible. Your cat -- and your carpet -- will be glad you did it.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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