Why Is My Neutered Cat Spraying?
The overpopulation of cats is often touted as one of the many reasons why neutering or spaying a cat is beneficial. Aside from contributing to the reduction of the stray cat population, neutering or spaying a cat also has behavioral benefits like stopping a cat from spraying. Usually, neutering stops spraying from occurring. However, there are some instances when a neutered cat continues to spray.
Why Do Cats Spray?
Cats use urine as a communication tool. In fact, cats have the ability to tell the age, sex, sexual availability, and status of another cat solely on the scent of its urine. While cats of both genders spray, male cats are more notorious for this habit. Female cats that have not been spayed usually only spray when they are in heat, letting male cats know that they are ready to mate.
Male cats spray for two main reasons: sexual activity and territory. When they are ready to seek out female cats in order to reproduce, they will produce certain pheromones that are released in their urine indicating sexual readiness. Additionally, they spray in order to mark their territories; if an area has been sprayed by one male cat, other male cats know to stay away from that particular area unless they are willing to fight for control of that particular territory.
Why Do Neutered Cats Spray?
It is understandably aggravating when your neutered (or spayed) cat continues to spray. While he or she is no longer spraying in order to find a mate, there are other reasons that contribute to neutered spraying. Some reasons include:
- If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, it may be spraying to let other animals in the neighborhood know that your home, and the area surrounding your home, is off limits. Further, if you live in a multi-cat household, your cat may be spraying indoors in order to mark its territory.
- Sometimes, cats will spray on new furniture or objects as these items have unfamiliar scents.
- New pets, babies, changes in the household, traveling owners, illnesses, and schedule changes can all lead to an influx in spraying due to stress.
- Meant to be endearing. If an object smells like an owner, cats will spray in an attempt to combine their scent with an owner’s scent in order to create a bond and to feel a sense of security.
How to Stop a Neutered Cat from Spraying
In order to stop your neutered cat from spraying, it is important to remain patient. Do not punish your cat for spraying as punishment will likely increase your cat’s stress levels making the problem even worse. Your cat is not spraying to be “bad.” Instead of punishing your cat, the first step to stopping the behavior is to identify the reasons for the spraying.
Establish positive mental associations with the area that your cat sprays by playing with him or her, petting, and offering treats. If the area can be closed off, shut doors leading to the area; the same goes for blocking your cat’s view of the outside as well so that he or she cannot see any outdoor cats. If the problem is rooted in certain inter-cat issues, increase the toys, beds, etc., in the area to make your cats less territorial.
Of course, it is always important to head to your veterinarian for a check-up to make sure that there are no medical conditions causing your cat to spray and that the spraying is caused by behavioral challenges. If you get the all-clear, patience and a few household tweaks are all that are needed to see a noticeable reduction in how often your cat sprays.
Central Texas Animal Hospital provides a variety of veterinary services for cats in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock area including vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental care, weight management, spaying and neutering, and more. Call us at 512-251-BARK today to learn more!