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Why Do Cats Spray on Their Owners? 6 Reasons for This Behavior

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By Nicole Cosgrove

young woman with ragdoll cat on couch

Has your cat ever sprayed a few drops of urine while you are going about your business? If this has happened, then you can say that your cat sprayed you. Unfortunately, this is a problem that many cat owners deal with and don’t understand how or why it happens.

If your cat has sprayed you, you may be worried that your cat isn’t using their litter box. Many cat owners confuse spraying with normal urinating, and this may be a cause for alarm. This article explores why cats spray and how you can deal with it.

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What Is Spraying?

Cats may use their scent to communicate something to their owners or other cats. Spraying is one such way where they leave certain scents in various places in the house or even on you. However, you should note that spraying is not the same as urinating.

One significant way of differentiating urinating and spraying is by the quantity of deposit. When a cat is spraying, it deposits tiny amounts of smelly urine at a certain point. Therefore, if you are not keen on what your cat is up to, it is possible to miss it.

A cat can spray on vertical surfaces such as walls, windows, or on the side of furniture. They may do this once or a few times, so you may notice this happening in your home if you are keen.

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Why Do Cats Spray on Their Owners?

The following are some reasons why your cat might spray on you.

1. Marking Territory

Cats spray to mark an area where they spend a lot of time and communicate that to other cats. Therefore, your cat might spray on you in an attempt to mark the boundary.

They can spray by depositing urine or with the scent glands found on their feet or faces. They do this to ensure that other cats may not invade the area.

mixed Siamese cat looking up
Image Credit: Stellelia, Shutterstock

2. Show Dominance

If your cat sprays you, they could do it to show dominance to you or other cats. It is a way of keeping other animals away to avoid confrontation. They create a boundary so that other cats may know that they own the space or person.

3. To Familiarize

If a new person comes into the cat’s space, they may get sprayed, but this is not to annoy anyone, as people may believe. Instead, cats spray to familiarize themselves with the person or thing, which becomes part of their space. This is, however, more common when the cat has marked various spots in their home.

Cat rubbing against owner's legs
Image Credit: Evan Abram McGinnis, Shutterstock

4. Sexual Availability

Cats may also spray to advertise that they are sexually available to other cats in the home or the environment. This is usually the case, especially when they spray near doorways or windows. It allows the scent to travel farther to attract a mate that will catch the smell.

5. Stress

Cats do not like change, and when they find many changes in their space, they may decide to mark the area. This can be when you move the furniture around or introduce many new items in the home. They spray to communicate stress and to help them adapt to the new environment better.

Abyssinian Blue Cat sitting on the arm of a sofa
Image By: Foonia, Shutterstock

6. Spray Spot

Your cat may spray on you or a spot in the home since it is habitual for them. It happens when you don’t clean the marked area, so the scent is still there. They make it a habit to spray the site often to ensure that the smell doesn’t fade.

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How to Stop Cats From Spraying

While spraying is a harmless act by many cats, most humans don’t appreciate it. It is a habit that may make your home smelly, so it is essential to find a way to stop it as follows.


If you spot an area where your cat sprays, the first thing you should do is to clean it thoroughly. This is important since it ensures that the site doesn’t smell and discourages regular spraying. Use deodorizing products that will remove the odor and mark the area with a product that has a strong odor.

Neuter the Cat

Most neutered cats are less likely to spray around your home, so it will curb the behavior. Neutering reduces the hormone levels in the cat; hence, they don’t have the urge to mark your home. When neutered, your cat will not feel the need to advertise sexual availability, so it curbs the problem.

Avoid Disrupting Their Space

Change is regular for humans, but the same doesn’t apply to cats, so avoid changing the cat’s space, leading to stress. Instead, if they have a way of life or a routine that they live by, ensure that it is maintained to prevent disruption.

Provide Structure

Cats need a structure that helps bring order into their lives and prevents them from needing to mark their territory. Engaging your cat with toys and activities keeps them busy, so they don’t engage in spraying in the home.

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Final Thoughts

If you notice that your cat is marking you or objects around your home, it is best to find a reason for it. This helps in finding a solution for the problem by getting to the bottom of it. If all of your interventions fail, consult your vet to find out whether there is a medical solution to it.

Featured Image Credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock

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