Cats and Dogs
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Can a girl cat spray?

Why Do Female Cats Spray?

Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, LVT

Adrienne Kruzer is a veterinary technician with more than 15 years of experience providing healthcare to domestic and exotic animals. She is trained as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.

Updated on 02/23/22
Reviewed by

Alycia Washington, DVM

Alycia Washington is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) with nearly a decade of experience as a small animal emergency veterinarian. She currently works as a relief veterinarian for various emergency and specialty hospitals. Dr. Washington recognizes the importance of education and also works as a freelance veterinary writer.

A female cat

While it is more commonly known that male cats spray, some female cats may also practice this unwanted behavior. No cat owner likes it when their cat sprays but this behavior is often displayed because a cat is trying to say something. Knowing why your female feline may be spraying and what you can do about it can help ease some stress and frustration for both you and your cat.

What Is Urine Spraying?

Female cats may urinate outside their litter box and practice inappropriate elimination but when they pee vertically instead of on the ground it is referred to as spraying or marking.

When a cat marks, urine is sprayed against a wall, a piece of furniture, or another surface. Your cat will stand up, raise its tail, quiver, and back up to the item it is about to spray. It is typically only a small amount of urine that sprays out instead of a steady stream that is produced during a normal, squatting, urination.

Why Do Female Cats Spray Urine?

Like a male cat, a female cat may spray urine for a variety of reasons but these reasons can typically be classified as either a response to an environmental stressor or a territorial behavior. Intact females may also spray urine while they are in heat to attract male cats.

Environmental stressors may include new people, such as a baby in the home, a new puppy or other animal that is annoying or upsetting your cat, construction or remodeling in your home, boredom in the feeding regimen or lack of playtime, litter concerns such as scented or dirty litter, a litter box that your cat doesn’t like, such as a covered or automatic cleaning box, and more. Basically, if your cat is upset or stressed about something it may spray but it may also be hard for you to figure out exactly what your cat is upset about.

Territorial reasons for spraying can include outdoor cats that your cat can see or hear while it is indoors or even new cats in your home. Spraying tells other cats that the space has already been claimed by them and they are not to be messed with.

Can Female Cats Still Spray After Being Spayed?

Spaying a female cat will decrease the likelihood that it will spray but a small percentage of cats will still spray after having this surgical procedure performed. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, 5% of female cats will continue to spray even after they have been spayed. Spaying a cat especially helps to decrease territorial reasons for spraying since less hormones are affecting it but if your cat is stressed or upset about something in its environment, it is still physically capable of spraying.

How to Stop Urine Spraying

All types of inappropriate elimination, including urine spraying, can be difficult and frustrating to stop but there are a few things you can do.

  • Spaying — The best way to decrease urine spraying in a female cat that sprays while she is in heat is to have her spayed. This is typically done at a young age but can be performed in older cats as well. Your veterinarian will recommend an age for your cat to be spayed.
  • Neutralize the odor — If your cat has sprayed urine in the house, the first thing you’ll want to do is eliminate the odor. But simply cleaning up and deodorizing the mess won’t stop your female cat from spraying in the same spot again so you’ll want to ensure you use an enzymatic cleaner to clean up the urine.
  • Change the litter or litter box — If you suspect your female cat is spraying because of the litter or litter box, consider switching to an unscented litter in a shallow, uncovered litter box. She may also prefer a location with more privacy. Consider getting additional litter boxes if there are multiple cats in the home.
  • Get rid of the stressor(s) — If something in or around your home is causing your cat to become upset or stressed, do what you can to get rid of the stressor or at least block your cat from being able to see and hear it. This of course isn’t always possible though, depending on what the environmental stressor is.
  • Pheromones — Sprays, wipes, and plug-ins are available to provide natural pheromones to your cat. Pheromones are scentless and help to relax stressed cats.
  • Anxiety medications — If you are unable to get rid of your cat’s stressor, prescription medications may be helpful to relax your cat.
  • Anxiety supplements — Similar to anxiety medications, various supplements such as L-theanine and milk whey protein may help to calm your cat and decrease the incidence of urine spraying.
  • Special diets — Therapeutic diets are available from your veterinarian that may help to decrease urine spraying. These diets often contain calming ingredients, similar to anxiety supplements.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

Why Do Female Cats Spray? 3 Reasons for this Behavior

female cat spraing in the garden

Many a cat owner is familiar with the dreaded small of cat urine lurking on their favorite sweatshirt, blanket, or their couch. Spraying is defined as inappropriate urination, usually on rugs, furniture, laundry, walls, etc. While the act of spraying is typically associated with male cats, female cats are also known to exhibit this same behavior when they feel insecure or stressed in their surroundings.


3 Reasons Female Cats Spray

If your female cat is spraying around your home, she is showing you that she is feeling some sort of stress in her life, and you are going to have to figure out what is making her feel insecure. Here are the most common 3 reasons female cats spray in the home.

1. Changes in her routine

Many cats like to have a predictable daily routine and disruptions in their routine can trigger stress responses. Cats can become upset about these sudden changes in their daily lives, so they spray out of anxiety. Give your cat some time to adjust to the new schedule or situation, and she will likely stop spraying as she relaxes.

Cat Pee Spray

2. Her commode is not to her liking

No one likes using a dirty toilet, and your cat doesn’t appreciate a filthy litter box either. Many cats spray because they don’t like something about their litter box or its placement within the home. Try adjusting where the litter box is located to see if a simple location change can solve the problem. Your cat may be shy and a public toilet could be causing her anxiety issues. If moving the litter box to another area doesn’t help, try replacing the litter and cleaning the box more often to see if that solves the issue. If you have more than one cat in the home, the issue may be that she doesn’t want to share a litter box with her fellow cat(s), so try purchasing an additional box so she has her own commode.

person changing cat litter

3. Other cats in her domain

Cats are known for being territorial about their space. If you have recently brought home a new cat, your female could be feeling stressed about the addition of a new resident. To help ease this stressor, make sure there are enough resources for each cat in your household. This could mean adding additional water and food bowls, litter boxes, cat trees, or sleeping pads and beds. You may need to also use a pheromone spray to help calm the cats as they become used to each other.

Other cats in her domain may also include outdoor cats that might be venturing onto your property. If your female cat can see these cats through the window, she will likely spray as she is startled or upset at the presence of other cats in her neighborhood. The easiest solution for this stressor is to close the blinds and curtains on the windows so your cat no longer sees these strangers in her space.

cat near window

Spray Cleanup

If your cat has sprayed in your home, scrub the area where she urinated with an enzymatic deodorizer spray to remove the scent of urine. Some cats will continue to spray in the same spot because the smell is appealing to them, so removing the scent may help prevent reoccurrence.


Final Thoughts

Female cats spray for a variety of reasons, but the most common are a change in routine, a toilet area not to her liking, or other cats in her domain. If you have removed or helped her adjust to these stressors and she continues to spray, it might be time to make a vet appointment. Your vet might have some suggestions specific to your cat to help your address the issue, such as a bladder infection, or they may want to try an anti-anxiety medication to help calm your cat. Hopefully addressing these common reasons for spraying on this list will help you figure out why your female is spraying before it becomes a larger problem in your home.

Featured Image Credit: Sergey Zaykov, Shutterstock

Lead Pet Expert & Pet-ditor in Chief

Nicole is the proud mom of 3 rescue fur babies, Baby, a Burmese cat; Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway; and Mac, a Lab/Mastiff. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband and new baby daughter in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ know ledge with pet lovers across the globe. . Read more

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