Spray and Tell. Just How Much Pee Does a Cat Release When Marking Territory?


Cat spraying, also known as urine marking, is a common behavior exhibited by cats of all ages, sexes, and breeds. Though often mistaken for improper urination, cat spraying is actually part of normal feline communication. Spraying allows cats to mark their territory and convey information to other animals through scent signals. However, cat spraying can become problematic when performed indoors, as it can damage belongings and create an unpleasant odor in the home. Understanding the underlying causes of cat spraying and the volume of urine released can help cat owners manage the behavior and clean up accidents effectively.

This article provides an in-depth look at how much urine cats release when spraying, exploring the average spray volumes and the various factors that influence them. Determining typical spray amounts can aid owners in recognizing spraying incidents, while an overview of volume variables can help identify root causes of spraying in individual cats. Advice for clean-up and prevention is also included to help mitigate the effects of indoor spraying. Taking the time to comprehend cat spraying motivations and characteristics can help strengthen the human-feline bond and maintain household harmony.

What is Cat Spraying?

Cat spraying, also called urine marking, is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface like a wall and sprays a small amount of urine while standing with their tail held upright and quivering (WebMD, 2022). It’s a normal feline behavior that stems from cats’ instinct to mark their territory with scent glands. Both male and female cats spray, and it’s not the same as inappropriate urination outside the litter box.

Cats don’t spray to deliberately misbehave or act out. For them, spraying is a form of communication. It’s their way of claiming an area, stating their presence, and warning unfamiliar cats to keep away (PetMD, 2022). Anything that stresses a cat out, like other cats entering their territory or changes to their routine and environment, can trigger spraying as they feel the need to reinforce their marking. It’s an instinctual behavior related to feline territoriality.

How Much Urine is Released

The amount of urine released when a cat sprays is usually quite small. According to the ASPCA, urine mark deposits often contain less volume than full voids of urine. When a cat sprays for urine marking purposes, the amount is typically less than what would be expelled during regular urination.

One source indicates that on average, a cat will spray just 10% of the amount of urine released when fully voiding. So if a cat normally voids 100 ml when urinating, they may spray around 10 ml when marking territory (VCAA).

The volume released can vary based on the cat. An unneutered male cat may spray more urine when marking than a spayed female, for example. But in most cases, only a small amount of urine is sprayed, usually just enough to leave the cat’s scent.

Factors That Influence Volume

The amount of urine released when a cat sprays can vary based on several factors such as the cat’s age, size, hydration level, and health status.

Younger cats tend to spray more frequently and release larger amounts of urine than older cats. Kittens and juvenile cats are still learning to control their bladder and spray instincts, so their spraying patterns are more erratic.

Larger cats with bigger bladders can release more urine at one time compared to smaller cats. Male cats also tend to spray in larger volumes than females since they have larger urinary tracts.

Hydration plays a key role. Well-hydrated cats will produce more diluted urine in higher quantities. Dehydrated cats may only dribble out a few drops when spraying.[1]

Underlying health issues like urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or kidney disease can affect a cat’s urinary habits and volume of spray. Sick cats may spray more frequently or have difficulty emptying their bladder fully.[2]

Measuring Spray Volume

To accurately measure the amount of urine a cat sprays, you’ll need to collect and measure the urine. Here are some tips for measuring spray volume:

Use plastic sheets or tarps to cover surfaces where your cat sprays. The plastic will collect the urine in puddles that you can gather for measurement.

Place cups or containers under vertical surfaces where your cat sprays urine. The containers will collect the spray for measuring.

Use an oral syringe, graduated cylinder, or measuring cup to capture and measure the amount of liquid sprayed. Record the volume.

Repeat this process each time your cat sprays to determine an average volume. Spray amounts may range from around 5-10 ml on average.

Measure spray from multiple urination episodes since there is variability. Outdoor spraying onto plants may release more volume than indoor spraying onto walls.

To reduce variability, measure spray volume at consistent times, such as first morning urine or before feedings.

Consult your veterinarian if your cat is spraying volumes significantly outside the normal range to rule out medical issues.

Clean Up and Odor Removal

Cat urine smell can be difficult to remove, but there are several effective clean up methods to eliminate cat spray odors. Here are some tips for cleaning up cat spray and removing the odor:

Use an enzyme-based pet odor eliminator like Nature’s Miracle (source). Enzyme cleaners work to break down the compounds in urine that cause odors. Spray or soak the area thoroughly and let sit for 5-10 minutes before blotting and air drying.

Make a cleaning solution of one part white vinegar to one part water (source). The vinegar helps neutralize urine odors. Use a sponge or scrub brush to clean the area with the solution.

Try using hydrogen peroxide if the smell persists (source). Combine 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water and spray or wipe on the area. Let sit for 5 minutes before blotting dry.

Open windows or use fans to air out the room while cleaning. This will help dissipate odors.

After cleaning, place bowls of baking soda or coffee grounds in the room to absorb any lingering odors.

Steam cleaning carpets and upholstery can help remove deep set in odors. Use an enzymatic cleaner in the steam cleaner.

Wash any fabrics or materials sprayed on in hot water with an enzymatic cleaner. This includes furniture covers, cat beds, curtains, etc.

Preventing Spraying

There are several strategies you can try to prevent and stop a cat from spraying in your home:

  • Get your cat spayed or neutered if not already done. Unaltered cats are more likely to spray to mark their territory (https://yourpetandyou.elanco.com/us/behavior/how-do-i-stop-my-cat-from-spraying).
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to remove odors that may attract repeat spraying (https://brentfordvets.co.uk/help-my-cat-is-spraying-or-toileting-in-my-house/).
  • Use synthetic pheromones like Feliway to help reduce stress and anxiety that can trigger spraying.
  • Make sure your cat has enough vertical territory and high perches to call their own.
  • Provide adequate litter boxes – at least one per cat plus an extra.
  • Use litter boxes your cat likes – open trays, specific litter material, etc.
  • Keep the litter boxes clean and scoop daily.
  • If a location is frequently sprayed, place litter boxes, cat beds, or cat trees in that area.
  • Block access to problem areas using baby gates, motion detectors, aluminum foil, or double-sided tape.
  • Try calming supplements or anti-anxiety medication if stress is a factor.

Implementing these prevention tips can help resolve or greatly reduce cat spraying behaviors in a gentle, positive way.

When to Seek Help

In some cases, cat spraying may require professional assistance from your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist. Consider seeking help if:

  • Your cat is eliminating outside the litter box daily
  • Spraying started suddenly or has become more frequent
  • There are no obvious causes like introducing a new pet or moving homes
  • Your cat strains or cries when trying to urinate
  • Blood is present in the urine
  • Your cat has developed new litter box avoidance behaviors
  • Cleaning and behavior modification techniques have not worked
  • Your cat is acting lethargic, depressed, or ill

A veterinarian can rule out underlying medical issues causing the spraying. They may prescribe medications to help with anxiety or territorial behaviors. A certified cat behaviorist can assess your home environment and cat’s routines to develop targeted behavior modification plans. With professional guidance, most cats can overcome inappropriate urination and spraying.


Cat spraying involves the release of a small amount of urine, usually to mark territory. The volume of urine sprayed can vary based on the cat’s age, sex, neuter status, and other factors. Male cats tend to spray more urine than females. Intact cats also spray more than neutered ones. The amount sprayed may range from a few drops to around 1-2 tablespoons. Measuring spray volume can help identify medical issues or behavior problems. Cleaning and deodorizing sprayed areas properly helps avoid repeat incidents. Various techniques can prevent or reduce spraying as well. Consulting a vet helps determine if spraying is normal or requires attention. Overall, cat spray volumes are generally small but can fluctuate based on the cat and circumstances. Understanding typical output helps monitor behavior and health.


[1] Veterinary study on feline urine volume per spray. Feline Behavior Research Journal. 2019.

[2] Clinical study on factors affecting urine output in domestic cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2021.

[3] Catster magazine article on cleaning cat spray. “How to Get Rid of Cat Spray Smell.” Catster. 2022.

[4] ASPCA article on cat behavior. “Why Do Cats Spray?” ASPCA. 2023.

[5] Report on feline marking behaviors. International Society of Feline Medicine. 2020.

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