Why Would a Female Cat Start Spraying?

By Maureen Malone

Urine spraying is a way that cats mark their territory. Although this behavior is most common in male cats that have not been neutered, female cats may also spray. Consult a veterinarian if your female cat begins spraying. While it may be a behavioral issue, she may also spray because of an illness or pain.

Territorial Scent Marking

You female cat may mark her territory if you have multiple cats in the home or if she sees a strange cat outside in her yard. If your cat is spraying because of cats she sees through the window, move furniture and cat trees away from the window or cover the lower part of the window to restrict her view. If she sprays because she is in competition with other cats in the home, help them develop a relationship by playing with them together and having them eat and sleep together. You can also wipe your cats down with a wet cloth to encourage them to groom each other.

Attracting a Mate

Female cats may spray to attract a mate. The smell of the spray informs other cats in the area that she is in the area and seeking a mate. Spaying your cat will in most cases significantly decrease urine spraying.

Spraying Due to Stress

A female cat may begin spraying if she is feeling stressed. Some potential stress triggers for your cat include:

  • New members of the household including babies or new pets
  • Redecorating or construction in the home
  • Changing your schedule or leaving for extended periods of time

Reduce stress and make sure your cat feels as safe as possible. Make sure she has access to a litter box she can use undisturbed, as well as bedding in a safe, quiet place. Having toys available may also help relieve anxiety. If you have more than one cat, you need one litter box and bed in different locations for each cat, plus one extra. Use a pheromone substance such as Feliway spray that simulates the facial pheromones cats rub against surfaces to mark their territory. The facial pheromones indicate safety to cats, and Feliway may help to comfort and calm your cat.

Medical Causes of Spraying

When a cat sprays, she usually does so on a vertical surface, although she may also urinate on horizontal surfaces or piles of clothes. She will spray urine while raising her hindquarters and keeping her tail erect. If you find urine outside of the litter box, but did not catch your cat in the act, the urine may be the cause of a medical condition.

A bladder infection may cause your cat to feel that she constantly needs to urinate and she may stop using her litter box. She will frequently squat due to the urge to urinate, but may only produce a small amount of urine each time. Other symptoms may include blood in the urine, lethargy and loss of appetite. In most cases, bladder infections are easily treated with antibiotics, although in rare cases, the infection may be caused by a fungus.

Feline lower urinary tract disease causes many of the same symptoms as a bladder infection, but is not caused by a bacteria. This condition is more common in male cats, but can affect your female cat. Stress and eating a dry food diet are two common causes of the condition. Treatment options include increased play and mental stimulation to decrease stress, increasing fluid intake, feeding canned food and anti-inflammatory drugs and medications for anxiety.

Additional medical causes of urinating outside of the litter box include incontinence due to an injury or tumor affecting the spinal cord and increased urine production due to conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease.