Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do Neutered Cats Spray? Vet-Reviewed Behavior

Written by: Lindsey Lawson

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

black male cat spraying at the garden

Do Neutered Cats Spray? Vet-Reviewed Behavior


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Cats are wonderful companions, but they do exhibit some quirks that must be dealt with accordingly. One common problem among cat-owning households is spraying, or urine marking. This can be frustrating, smelly, and a real hassle to clean up. While marking territory is one of the first things to come to mind as the reason for this behavior, cats spray for a variety of reasons.

Spraying is not specific to unaltered male cats. Neutered males and even females can also display this type of behavior. However, having your male cat neutered as soon as possible can prevent, dramatically reduce, or even eliminate this behavior in some cats.

divider-catclaw1 Urine Marking

Cats communicate through scent. This is a completely natural behavior that is quite troublesome when you have a cat that is kept indoors and is displaying the behavior all over your home. Cats leave behind their scent not just with urine but through scent glands located on their feet, cheeks, face, and tails. This is your cat’s way of telling others where they have been and sending certain messages to others.

Cat Pee Spray
Image Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Spray or Urine Mark?

As mentioned, urine marking is a cat’s way of communicating something. This behavior is a result of their communication methods and their unique social structure. It is much more common in multiple cat households but can occur in single cat households as well. Urine marking is most observed in intact male cats but can be displayed in neutered males and females. In fact, approximately 10% of neutered males and 5% of females display regular spraying behavior.

Reasons for Urine Marking

  • Territorial marking
  • Attracting a mate
  • Stress or discomfort
  • They feel threatened

yarn ball divider

How to Tell the Difference Between Spraying and Peeing

When cats spray, they will generally only deposit small amounts of urine on objects and surfaces. They will usually spray on vertical surfaces, although some will also spray on horizontal surfaces. They typically target more centrally located items, socially significant items, or new items that have not yet been exposed to their smell.

Because they wish to spread their pheromones and make themselves known, spraying isn’t done in private, secure areas like urination. Though some cats that display spraying behavior may also urinate outside the litter box. When spraying, your cat will simply back up to an object, lift their tail, release the urine, and walk away. They will not attempt to cover what they have done as they would in the litter box. The smell of urine marking is typically more pungent.

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

How Is Urine Marking Treated?

Not all hope is lost if you have a sprayer in the house. There are some things you can try to help put a stop to this behavior. Treating this problem is all about decreasing the cat’s motivation for spraying, so determining the reason is very important.


As mentioned, urine marking isn’t specific to intact males. Females and neutered males have been known to spray as well. However, the percentage of females and neutered males that spray is drastically low in comparison to the incident in unaltered males.

Intact males are going to be more territorial and will want to attract females with their pheromones. The best thing you can do for your cat is to have them spayed or neutered. This alone can solve spraying behaviors.

Though it’s not fully guaranteed, neutering does put a stop to spraying when it has become a habitual behavior. The sooner they are neutered, the better. This can prevent the behavior altogether if done before they reach sexual maturity.

Having your cat neutered doesn’t just help with spraying, there are other health and behavioral benefits associated with having this done.

cat with pee stain on the carpet
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Keep Things Closed

If your cat is feeling territorial, they may be spraying to mark their territory because they can see and hear what’s going on outside. You can try closing windows, blinds, and doors to keep your indoor kitty from seeing, hearing, and smelling other neighborhood cats. However, keep in mind that given your cat’s incredible sense of smell, this is not guaranteed to be effective.

Deter Neighborhood Cats From Your Yard

Keeping away the neighborhood cats that roam around freely is important. Try to utilize a motion-detection device to a sprinkler to deter intruders. You will also want to avoid feeding any strays or neighborhood wanderers, no matter how tempting it is.

norwegian forest cat peeing in the garden
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Clean Thoroughly

Clean up urine marking thoroughly by using an enzymatic cleaner made for pet urine. These cleaners are the only ones that can actually dissolve the urine’s crystals, which will help neutralize and remove the odor.  Sometimes removing the leftover scent will help reduce a cat’s urge to spray the same area again.

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
  • ADVANCED ENZYMATIC CLEANER - Penetrates the most stubborn smells and stains at the deepest molecular...
  • FOR ANY MESS, ON ANY SURFACE - This pet odor eliminator cleans your carpets, floors, furniture,...
  • FRESH, NATURAL ODOR - Our unique formulation doesn't rely on dangerous or unpleasant chemical...

The Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray is our favorite enzyme cleaner out there. It permanently removes even the very worst kitty stains and smells, leaving your home fresh and clean! Click here to learn more about this amazing product and get yourself a bottle.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding products of this cool cat company!

Do Not Punish Your Cat

Do not punish your cat for spraying. Punishment is only going to add to your cat’s stress, which can be counterproductive toward your goal. Cats do not respond to training the same way that dogs do, but as with dogs, positive reinforcement is always best.

3 cat divider

Treating Spraying in a Multi-Cat Household

If you are struggling with spraying behavior and you own multiple cats, this can pose a bit of a challenge. You may want to reach out to your veterinarian for some guidance with this kind of problem, but here’s a list of suggestions to help you handle the situation.

  • Try and determine which cat is spraying
  • Ensure there are enough litter boxes in the home for each cat. It is recommended to have one per cat, plus an additional.
  • Make sure the litter boxes are in comfortable, low-traffic areas and keep up with regular cleaning.
  • Make sure food and water bowls, perches, and cat toys are distributed evenly among all household cats to prevent quarrels and ensure they have their personal space.
  • Try synthetic pheromone sprays such as Feliway to help reduce stress and the unwanted behaviors associated with it
  • Contact your veterinarian about supplements or medications that could help with the behavior.

divider-catclaw1 Final Thoughts

Neutered cats and even females do sometimes spray though the occurrence is much less likely than with an intact male. The best thing you can do to prevent any spraying behavior is to have your male cat neutered as soon as possible and before they reach sexual maturity. Don’t give up hope if you have a sprayer, as there are some tips and tricks you can try to help stop the behavior. Of course, you can always reach out to your veterinarian with these concerns if you have trouble treating the behavior at home.

Featured Image Credit: anlomaja, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.