Cat spraying might be an annoyance to us humans, but it is one of the many ways your cat communicates. Read on to learn why cats spray and what you can do to prevent spraying behaviour.

Brown tabby cat laying in a doorway. It's wearing a plaid red bowtie as a collar.

Table of contents


What is spraying?

Cat spraying, or urine spraying, is a form of communication and territory marking used by cats. When they spray, cats release a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces to leave their scent. This behaviour is different from regular urination and is often used to convey messages to other cats, such as marking territory or signalling stress.

Why do cats spray?

Cats spray to mark their territory and communicate with other cats. This behaviour is a natural part of their scent-marking system, which is used to establish territorial boundaries and convey information about their reproductive status or stress levels.

It is important to note cats do not spray out of spite or bad behaviour. Punishing them only worsens their anxiety and stress and can make the situation worse.

Do female cats spray?

Yes, female cats do spray. Although it is more common in males, especially those that are not desexed, females may also engage in this behaviour, particularly when they are on heat or if they feel their territory is threatened.

Do desexed cats spray?

Desexing significantly reduces the likelihood of cats spraying, especially in males. While desexing can help to diminish the territorial and mating behaviours associated with spraying, some desexed cats might still spray due to stress or environmental changes.

How to stop your cat spraying

Make sure they are healthy

Ensure your cat is healthy and consult a vet to rule out any medical issues, including bladder issues and pain inducing conditions.


Consider desexing

If your cat is not already desexed, desexing can reduce spraying behaviours.

Build a good, enriching environment

Provide a stimulating environment with toys, scratching posts, and attention to reduce stress. Toys with play styles that stimulate your cats natural hunting instinct are ideal.

Minimise stress and anxiety in your home

The placement of resources is particularly important, especially in multi-cat households especially, and cats should have their own space to avoid conflicts and limit stress. Cats become stressed if they cannot easily access what they need (such as food, water, litter boxes, etc.) and have a place to hide away.

Have multiple options for water around the home. Cat water fountains, in addition to standard water bowls can encourage water intake. If you have multiple cats, make sure you have multiple food and water stations available in quiet, low traffic areas as noise and stress may discourage your cat from eating or drinking.

Provide litter trays in more than one location, making sure they are large enough for your cat. A considerable size to aim for is 1.5x the length of the cat and wide enough for them to turn around easily. Place their litter trays in quiet, low traffic locations. If there are multiple cats in the home, make sure you provide enough litter trays (the ideal number 1 tray per cat plus 1 extra minimum).

When cats feel stressed, they like to hide or climb up high to get away from the trigger and decompress. Providing ample hiding places and heights is extremely helpful with stress management. Tall cat trees, access to windowsills, boxes, partially covered cat beds, etc, can all be used as safe hidey holes. If you have a multi-cat household, making sure there are enough safe spaces for the number of cats in the home to choose between.

Long-haired black cat laying on a cream scratching post

Use calming supplements and synthetic pheromones

Some supplements and pheromones can also help reduce anxiety and stress in cats. These can be particularly helpful for:

  • Anxious cats
  • Anticipated stressful events (like moving house or visits to the vet)
  • Cats that are new to the home
  • Multi-cat households


Two popular products and effective calming products that may help your cat’s anxiety are Zylkene and Feliway. Zylkene is a natural supplement that can be added to the food daily. Feliway is a synthetic calming pheromone that comes in a plug-in wall diffuser (ideal for the home) and a spray (ideal for car trips and for short term stress).

Take them to the vet for a behavioural consultation

If managing their environment and supplements are not enough to help your cat’s stress, they need medical help. Book them in with your veterinarian for a comprehensive behavioural consult.


What is the best way to clean urine spraying spots?

To effectively clean up cat urine, use an enzymatic cleaner designed to neutralize the odour, ideally one specifically designed for urine.

Avoid cleaners with ammonia or citrus scents, as they can attract cats back to the same spot due to the acidity of the products having similar smells to cats.

By understanding the reasons behind spraying and taking proactive steps, you can manage this spraying behaviour and maintain a harmonious home for your feline companions.