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Why Is Your Female Cat Spraying All of a Sudden? 4 Vet-Approved Reasons

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

Cat Pee Spray

Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Millions of pet parents love their cats and dote on them regularly. Cats aren’t perfect and have their little quirks. Standing on your chest at 5 am to let you know they’re hungry, for example, or smashing things onto the floor for no discernible reason. Of all their habits, spraying might be the most inconvenient. Spraying is part of a cat’s nature and is an innate action they take because they’re territorial creatures. Yes, male cats primarily spray, but female cats also spray, just not nearly as often.

Spraying (urine marking) is different from peeing inappropriately (outside the litter box). When your cat sprays, they will release a small amount of scented urine onto a vertical surface such as a wall. If your female cat has recently started spraying and you don’t know why it might be a cause for concern. Below we’re going to provide four possible reasons your female cat might be spraying to help you decide what to do next.

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The 4 Reasons a Female Cat Is Spraying All of a Sudden

1. Your Cat is in Heat

As mentioned earlier, although male cats spray more, female cats also spray. When in heat, female cats tend to spray more often.

Pheromones in her urine will let male cats in the general vicinity know that your female cat is ready to mate. Her urine has hormones that do the same thing, and she sprays to get the word or, in this case, smell out to the neighborhood. If going into heat is causing your cat to spray, and you don’t plan to have kittens, your best solution is spaying

black male cat spraying at the garden
Image Credit: anlomaja, Shutterstock

2. Something at Home Is Stressing Out Your Female Cat

Cats usually act very relaxed and nonchalant on the outside, as if they don’t have a care in the world. However, your cat experiences emotions like you, including happiness, sadness, joy, and stress. If your female cat is stressed out, she will often spray to show that she’s upset or unhappy. The challenge for you as her pet parent is to figure out what’s stressing your feline and how to fix it so that she calms back down and returns to her non-spraying ways. What can stress out your female cat? Several things can, including:

  • You have a new baby at home
  • You’re redecorating or remodeling
  • There are new cats or kittens in your neighborhood
  • You’ve adopted another new pet
  • You’ve just gone through a divorce (cats can feel the tension)
  • Your routine, and thus your cat’s routine, has changed drastically
  • Your town was just battered by a bad storm, hurricane, flooding, earthquake, etc.
  • Boredom, lack of playtime or social interaction.

3. Your Female Feline Is Marking Her Territory

Although this reason isn’t a common reason for a female cat to suddenly start spraying more than usual, it’s still possible. Like males, female cats spray their urine to mark their territory and let other cats know it’s “theirs.” This behavior is 100% normal, even though it might not be something you appreciate.

For a cat, the boundaries they create with their spraying are like an invisible fence or “keep out” sign. The pheromones and hormones in their spray also let male cats know they’re females (which is why spaying is essential for most female cats). As we’ve seen, female cats don’t spray nearly as much or as often as males. If you’ve just moved into a new home or apartment, your female might spray more for a few days while she takes over as the new queen of the area.

a white cat spraying the wooden gate
Image Credit: Igor Shoshin, Shutterstock


4. Separation Anxiety Is Affecting Your Female Cat

Although they often act aloof and uncaring, cats genuinely love all the attention their pet parents give them. As their parent, petting and playing with your cat is vitally important, as it will create a strong bond between the two of you that will last for years to come. In today’s non-stop world, however, some pet parents are always on the go, leaving their cat(s) to fend for themselves most days.

Some parents occasionally have a caretaker come over and look after the cats, while others put their kitty in a pet spa while away. Whatever the situation, if your female cat feels like you’ve left her all alone, spraying is one way she might show her displeasure. That’s especially true on things heavily connected to you, like the blankets on your bed or the cushion of your favorite chair.

Other Reasons Why Your Cat Might Be Urinating Outside the Litter Box

1. Your Female Cat Has a UTI

Lower urinary tract problems or, in some cases, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common urinary conditions that affect many female cats. There are several different reasons for your cat to develop a urinary tract problem.

If your female cat has a UTI, you can bet that she might be doing frequent trips to the litter box, urinating small amounts, peeing in unusual places, having blood in her urine, or showing pain and discomfort while urinating. In all cases, veterinarian attention is needed.

2. Problems With The Litter Box

Any changes or problems associated with your cat’s litter box may result in inappropriate urination. Make sure you clean the litter box daily and that you have not recently changed the type of litter. If you adopt a new cat, ensure you get an adequate number of litter boxes (one per cat plus one extra). The litter box should be located in a quiet area, away from windows and doors, and not in the corridor. If your kitty’s peeing does not return to normal after checking all the above, book an urgent appointment with your vet.

How To Stop a Female Cat from Spraying

Although some causes of spraying might need veterinary intervention, most don’t and can be corrected at home. Below are a few methods you can use to stop your female cat from spraying and, hopefully, reduce the habit in the future.

Have Your Cat Spayed

As mentioned earlier, a female cat in heat will spray much more often. She does this to let male cats know she’s in heat, which is 100% normal. The best way to stop this type of spraying is simple; have your cat spayed. Just like neutering a male cat will stop them from spraying, spaying a female cat does the same. In 95% of cat cases, spaying stops the spraying completely.

vet holding the scottish fold cat in a veterinary clinic
Image By: Alice Rodnova, Shutterstock

Clean Sprayed Areas Well

Male and female cats spray the same areas over and over, especially if they still smell their previous scent. To prevent that from happening, it’s critical that you clean the sprayed area with an enzyme-based cleaner that’s unscented. Using one that’s strongly scented could backfire and cause your cat to spray even more!

Spend More Time With Your Female Cat

If your cat is spraying because she’s unhappy, lonely, or bored, the best thing you can do is spend some quality time with her. Let her sit on your lap while you stroke her fur, or get some new cat toys and play with them together. Talk to your cat, so they know you’re paying attention, and take a few extra minutes to pet them where they love being petted.

See Your Local Veterinarian

If your cat’s spraying or inappropriate urination does not improve, your only choice is to bring her to your local vet for an exam. If the vet diagnoses a nasty UTI, they can put your kitty on antibiotics and prescribe other medications that can help.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, female cats spray much less frequently than their male counterparts. If yours is suddenly spraying more than usual, the four reasons we’ve talked about are likely the cause. The good news is that, except for one, you can usually fix all of the other three reasons your female cat is suddenly spraying at home. Most are easy, too, like playing with your cat more often.

Did you find the answers you were looking for in this article? We sure hope you did and that you now have the information you need to help your cat and stop them from spraying all over the place. Best of luck with our solutions, and give your precious kitty cat a big hug from everyone here at Hepper!

Featured Image Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

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