As much as we all love our cats, it’s fair to say that some of their little habits are less than desirable. There’s the notorious 3 am stampede, the occasional bouts of property destruction, the chewed-up clothing, the pre-prandial screaming fits — and, of course, spraying. Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they mark their territory is, unfortunately, spraying. Some people assume that this behavior is unique to toms, but that’s not quite true. While male cats are definitely more prone to spraying, female cats will do this too. It’s not as common, but it certainly happens.
Why is my female cat spraying all of a sudden? If this is a new cat or you’ve recently moved home, she may be struggling to adapt. If she hasn’t been spayed, she may have come into heat. If you’ve introduced another pet, she may be feeling intimidated. Illnesses and other stressors may also be responsible.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about your female cat spraying. Maybe you’ve only just got her and you want to know how to correct this behaviour. Maybe she was fine before and has suddenly begun to spray. Keep reading, because you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll discover the possible causes of your cat’s spraying and how you can address the issue. You’ll also learn how to clean up and remove the odours of cat spray from your home.
Why Is My Female Cat Spraying All of a Sudden?
As well as being unpleasant and distasteful, a sudden bout of spraying in your female cat is a sign that something is very wrong. If your cat was previously litter-trained and didn’t have a lot of accidents outside of her box, my first thought would be “does she have a urinary tract infection?”
Cats in general are prone to UTIs. They’re not great at staying hydrated. The feline body evolved to obtain fluid from food, so even if you provide a water bowl your cat may still not be drinking quite enough water. You can address this by providing multiple bowls of fresh water, and preferably a pet drinking fountain. Dehydration can lead to problems with the kidneys and urinary tract. Bladder and kidney stones are fairly common, and few cats escape without ever developing a UTI in their lives. Usually, these resolve themselves without the need for intervention, but spraying can be a sign that your cat is experiencing distress and needs medical care. A short course of antibiotics usually sorts everything out. My American Shorthair and British Shorthair cats have both had UTIs once or twice, and were fine once they’d been treated.
There are other health issues that can cause spraying. If your cat is injured or in pain or discomfort from an illness, she may resort to spraying as a way to process her distress and feel safer. Kitty diabetes is a possible cause; this can be treated effectively by a change of diet and appropriate medication and needs to be addressed promptly as it can be very dangerous. Spraying can also be an issue in older female cats who are starting to become confused and disoriented. Your vet can help here, too, by providing medication to help your cat feel less stressed and frightened.
An established cat who’s otherwise in good health may start spraying if she feels stressed or threatened. This can happen if there’s a big change, such as moving house. Other potential stressors include new cats (and other pets, especially dogs who aren’t socialised well with cats), a new baby, or another new member of the household. Make sure that her environment is comfortable, safe and stress-free while she gets used to the new situation. Set up cat perches where she can get out of the way of other pets, and dens or cat habitats where she can hide if she feels anxious or unsettled.
If this is a new cat, especially one you’ve rescued from a bad home or a backyard breeder, I would speculate that she was unspayed and possibly in heat. Shelters usually fix their cats before they go to their new homes, but not all rescues come from shelters. You can often tell that a cat is in heat because her vulva will be more prominent and there may be some discharge. There’s not much you can do except keep her indoors and get her de-sexed as soon as you possibly can. It’s vital that she’s kept away from entire toms while she’s in this condition, as she will mate as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The world really doesn’t need any more unwanted kittens. Once she’s spayed, the problem of spraying may well resolve itself. Unlike my American Shorthair and British Shorthair boys, my domestic shorthair was a rescue and had a few problems with spraying until she got used to her new home. Once she knew she was safe and that my resident cats were no threat, she stopped.
Above all, do not punish your cat for spraying. She isn’t deliberately trying to upset you and can’t understand why you’re shouting or hurting her. She needs gentle handling and sympathy if you want to resolve the problem.
How to Stop a Female Cat from Spraying
To effectively prevent spraying in any cat, you first need to address the root cause of the problem. In many cases, this simply means finding out what’s upsetting her and removing or ameliorating the stressor. Anxious cats often respond very well to medication, including tranquilisers and antidepressants, but it’s better to create a low-stress environment. Ensure that she has plenty of bolt-holes where she can hide and feel safe.
If your cat is spraying in a specific area, you can often magically fix the issue by putting her litter-box there. She wants to mark that area as her territory, so make sure she can do so in a way that doesn’t inconvenience you. Yes, this might mean having a litter box in a prominent position in your home. Personally, I see this as the price you pay to be a cat guardian.
If your female cat hasn’t been spayed, you should book that appointment with the vet and get her snipped as soon as you possibly can. I can’t tell you how many people complain to me about their “bad” cats’ spraying, clawing, fighting, irritability and so on, and then admit that they haven’t taken their pet to get fixed. It’s irresponsible to leave your cat unspayed unless there’s some pressing medical reason she can’t have the operation. Kitty hormones can wreak absolute havoc on your furry friend’s temperament. She might be one little snip away from being the tractable pet you desire. Besides all of this, it’s also very bad for a female cat’s health to keep going into heat. She’s at more risk of running away, and also from a number of nasty cancers.
How to Get Rid of Spray Odours
the smell of cat urine is notoriously hard to remove. This is because most people are using the wrong cleaners. You can scrub and scrub with detergents and disinfectants, and end up right back at square one once the fragrance fades. What many don’t realise is that you need an enzymatic cleaner for the job. Enzymatic cleaners break down the compounds in feline urine that are responsible for the distressing smell.
Once you’ve blotted up the cat pee and cleaned the area with conventional cleaners, apply an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the odour. Depending on the severity of the soiling, you might need more than one application. Your pet store should stock enzymatic odour-removing products that are formulated for this purpose. To make sure that the smell really is gone, try going outside for a while and then coming back in.
Removing the odour of cat spray doesn’t just make life more pleasant. It’s also an important step towards fixing unwanted behaviour. Cats tend to spray in the same location, so any lingering odours will prompt further spraying. Once you’ve got rid of the smell, the spraying might abate.