Why Do Cats Spray Indoors And Can You Stop it??
Maybe one of the most common questions we get asked is “why does my cat spray indoors? The answer is surprisingly simple. In your cat’s world this is perfectly normal behavior. This is how cats communicate with each other in the wild, it’s kind of like you posting a status update on Facebook, or uploading a new Story on Insta!
That being said, spraying indoors is not considered acceptable in the human world…In this post, we’ll delve into why your cat may be spraying indoors, and more importantly, if you can stop it from happening. You’ll also discover if it’s only males that spray, and signs your cat is about to spray.
What the heck is spraying anyway?
Urine spraying is a way cats mark out their territories. It’s completely different from normal urination, and vital for how your cat fits in with other cats in the neighborhood (or house). Your cat’s sense of smell is at least ten times stronger than yours (as you learned in last week’s newsletter) and plays a major role in his survival. Of course, as a domesticated pet, he doesn’t have to hunt for food or fend off predators, but it’s still important for establishing a territory.
Your cat even has an extra scent gland in the roof of his mouth. Known as Jacobsen’s Organ, it’s used for detecting pheromones found in urine. A lot of information is given out in urine spray, enabling a cat to know how fresh the marking is, as well as the sex, health and even age of the other cat. Imagine if WE could do this. Nevermind, don’t. It’s gross.
Even though urine spraying clearly marks out boundaries, cats passing through rarely avoid them. If your cat is new to the neighborhood it may take a while for him to establish his own territory. This can be very stressful, especially if there are quite a few other cats in the area!
Cats often share territories, but avoid meeting face to face. If that should happen, both will challenge each other, and only one will back down if it’s in danger of being hurt. Cat fights are mostly noise, much of it hissing. It’s rare for injury but does happen.
Even if your cat doesn’t go outside, it still knows the other cats in the area- either from scents it catches when the doors are opened, or from window-watching. They can even hear other cats talking (and especially mating) without ever stepping foot outdoors. Spring is a very popular time for clients to report that their indoor cats are suddenly spraying. Your cat is no dummy- it absolutely knows that it’s mating season and the increased spraying and activity outside can trigger him to do the same.
Is it only male cats that spray? In short- no.
It’s more common for unneutered males to spray as it’s part of mating. Any tom feeling randy will spray to let females know he’s available! Neutered males will still spray urine outside to mark territory though. Spayed females spray less than any other cat though
Just as tom cats leave their mark to attract females, so it works the other way. A female in heat may spray urine to let males in the area know she’s ready for sex! Or she might have heard another cat talking outside her door last night and it really pissed her off. She’s just trying to let him know that! She doesn’t know that your mother in-law is coming this weekend and that she hates cats (or actually maybe she does)!
Anyway, males are most likely to spray for marking territories, whereas females are most likely to do it for attracting a mate. However, less than ideal situations can also cause a cat to spray. Too many cats in the area, (or your house!), health problems, or even a change in cat litter can make your kitty spray urine indoors.
How do I know my cat is about to spray?
As mentioned previously, spraying is completely different from urinating. When your cat pees, he’ll squat down to relieve himself. If you see your kitty quivering his tail which is upright, and treading the ground with his back legs, watch out!! It’s a-coming.
This is an imminent sign your cat is about to leave his/her scent by spraying. A cat normally sprays against a vertical surface such as a wall or door. Trash cans and wood piles are also pretty popular. Really, anything vertical can be a target. I have one that loves to pee on curtain panels. It’s great.
The amount of urine sprayed tends to be very small, but the smell can be just as offensive. Once your cat has sprayed urine in an area he will tend to go back and use it either as a toilet or for further scent marking. Oh joy, right?
Can you stop your cat from spraying?
The only way to stop your kitty from going back to the area and spraying again is by giving it a thorough deep clean and moving the furniture. Making access hard for your cat may prevent it from happening again. Phermone diffusers like “Feliway” are supposed to help by encouraging cats to mark with their face and chin vs their urine. We’ve used these with some success but unfortunately nothing works 100% of the time. We’ve also seen cats drugged on massive amounts of Elavil and Xanax for spraying. Guess what? This didn’t even work most of the time! If you have a cat who sprays, it might just become one of those situations where you have to change YOUR reaction with the behavior in order to ever be at peace. You probably don’t want to hear that but it’s the truth. Some cats spray. Getting rid of the stench can be difficult but it’s not impossible. We use “Nature’s Miracle” here in the shop. We also use a ton of bleach and fabuloso which seems to help. We hope this helps someone out there! Try to remember… your cat doesn’t spray to annoy you- he’s just trying to communicate!
Want to try the Feliway diffuser at your house? Here’s our Amazon affiliate link-⬇️
Need to stick up on more Nature’s Miracle to get rid of the smell and start fresh? You can stock up here!
That’s it for this week’s blog! Got questions? We’d be happy to answer them- just drop a comment below or even shoot us an e-mail if you’d rather. Spring-spraying season is almost over… so keep the faith!
~Shannon and Whitney