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Home > Cats > What Age Do Cats Start Spraying? (And What To Do About It)

What Age Do Cats Start Spraying? (And What To Do About It)

Black cat spraying at garden

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Spraying is known as that irritating habit your cat displays when they begin urinating outside their box to mark their scent. It’s usually accompanied by meowing and other feline noises, but not always. If your cat has suddenly picked up this unfortunate habit, keep reading while we list several reasons that can cause it as well as what age it usually starts occurring which is usually around 6 months of age. We’ll also tell you what you can do about it.

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When Do Male Cats Start Spraying?

Most male cats begin spraying at about 6-7 months after reaching puberty around 4-6 months old.

The 3 Reasons Cats Spray

1. Sexual Maturity

The primary reason cats spray is because they’ve reached sexual maturity, and it’s their way of letting other cats know they’re available for mating. A cat trapped indoors that goes into heat can make quite a mess out of your home as it usually doesn’t stop with the urinating. Continuous howling and rubbing at the furniture and drapes are also likely to occur.

What Can I Do About It?

The best way to prevent your cat from spraying when it reaches sexual maturity is to get it spayed or neutered. There is no right answer as to when is the best time to get your pet spayed or neutered. However, most doctors recommend doing it at 4-6 months of age. It usually has a routine by this time and is comfortable in its home, so it will have an easier recovery. However, you can also get your cat spayed or neutered at 6 to 8 weeks of age, but many people wait until after their first heat cycle.

Cat Pee Spray
Image Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

2. Territory Marking

Cats are territorial animals and may mark their territory using urine, just like dogs do. It’s more likely to occur if other cats come into the yard or you suddenly bring a new cat into the home. It’s also more common in male cats.

What Can I Do About It?

Usually, a cat marks its territory in the corners of the yard, and it will do it more frequently when other male cats are getting close to the border. You may be able to discourage other male cats from visiting by placing citrus peels around the perimeter, as most cats hate the scent  and will move on to another area.


3. Anxiety

Anxiety is another common reason that cats spray in the home. Your cat may suffer from anxiety if you bring another cat home, especially a second male cat. However, loud noises from things like yelling or traffic can also upset your cat if they continue long-term. Other signs of anxiety include dilated pupils and overgrooming.

What Can I Do About It?

If you feel your cat is suffering from anxiety due to the addition of a new cat, we recommend placing the cats in separate rooms.  You can bring the cats together again slowly with a controlled process that allows them to adjust to each other’s company at their own pace. While some cats may never get along, the situation shouldn’t be so stressful that one or more cats are spraying, and bringing them together slowly should allow them to at least coexist without continuous fighting or spraying.

You should also consider adding some pheromone diffusers. While these diffusers have excellent results in many of these territorial anxiety cases, please keep in mind that they take up to a month to show results.

A big norwegian forest cat male marking its territory
Image by: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Important Information to Consider

In order to eradicate your cat’s spraying behavior, the first step is to get rid of their urine’s smell from the surfaces they have marked. The most effective way of completely removing the smell is by using enzymatic cleaners designed to dissolve uric acid crystals.
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Are There Benefits To Getting My Cat Spayed Or Neutered?

neutering cat
Image by: Simon Kadula, Shutterstock
  • Your cats are much less likely to wander off when they are spayed or neutered. Intact cats, especially males, will wander off several times a year searching for a mate and may not come back for days at a time.
  • Neutered male cats are less likely to suffer life-threatening injuries failing other male cats for the right to mate with a female. These injuries can cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills, and the filing will damage the cat’s most vital areas like the eyes and ears, which tend to suffer the most.
  • Not getting your pet spayed or neutered increases its risk of certain cancers.
  • A spayed or neutered cat has a much more even temperament that is more friendly toward humans.
  • Having your pet spayed or neutered eliminates the risk of your pet contributing to the feral cat population.
  • Since sprayed and neutered cats are less likely to wander off, they are less likely to catch and spread disease.

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Summary

If you don’t get your cat spayed or neutered, you can expect it to start spraying and having erratic behavior once it reaches sexual maturity, on average at about six months old. If you have a female cat, she will no longer go into heat after being desexed. The behavior and spraying should subside, and your cat will be friendlier and more stable. However, if the spraying behavior has been hard-wired into them before the procedure, some cats may continue to spray, and you will need to address those issues with a different approach that may include enzymatic cleaners and pheromone diffusers.

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Featured Image Credit: Anlomaja, Shutterstock

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