Male Cat Spraying. How Often and Why They Do It


Spraying is when a cat stands up, lifts its tail, and releases a small stream of urine. It’s different from regular urination and is often done on vertical surfaces like walls. Spraying is normal territory-marking behavior for cats, especially males. However, unwanted spraying can develop in house cats due to stress, anxiety, or medical issues.

This article will provide an overview of how often male cats spray, the reasons behind the behavior, and tips to reduce or stop spraying. We’ll look at differences between intact and neutered males when it comes to spraying frequency. Medical conditions that can cause spraying will also be covered.

Reasons Male Cats Spray

Spraying is a normal feline behavior that is used for communication. There are several key reasons an intact or neutered male cat may spray:

Marking territory – Spraying spreads the cat’s scent, which lets other cats know they were there. It’s a way for them to claim an area or objects as their own. Intact males who roam outdoors often spray to mark their territory 1.

Sexual maturity – Most intact male cats begin spraying around 6 months of age when they reach sexual maturity. The urge to find a mate leads them to spray more frequently 2.

Stress – Changes in routine, new cats or people, or conflicts with other pets can cause stress that leads to spraying. It helps relieve anxiety. Neutered males may spray in response to stress 3.

In summary, the main reasons male cats spray are to mark territory, advertise sexual maturity, and relieve stress. It’s a normal means of communication for them.

At What Age Do Male Cats Start Spraying?

Male cats generally begin spraying urine as a territorial marking behavior when they reach sexual maturity. This usually occurs between 6-10 months of age, though it can begin as early as 4 months or as late as 12 months [1].

During kittenhood, male cats do not spray urine. It is not until they reach puberty that the urge to mark territory arises. This is driven by hormones as the cat reaches sexual maturity. Even neutered males may spray in response to an intact female in heat nearby [2].

So in summary, spraying behavior in male cats typically begins in the 6-10 month range as they pass through puberty and become sexually mature tomcats. The exact age varies between individuals based on breed, size, and other factors. But most male cats will start displaying spraying behaviors at some point after 6 months of age.

How Often Do Intact Males Spray

The frequency of spraying by intact male cats depends on several factors, but generally intact males will spray urine more often than neutered males. According to VCA Hospitals, intact male cats that spray urine will typically do so multiple times per day. The strong “tom cat” odor from intact males acts as a signal of the cat’s territory. Intact males are motivated to spray by the hormones related to mating behaviors.

Quora reports that intact male cats are highly likely to spray urine, with around 90% engaging in this behavior. The frequency ranges from multiple times per day to daily spraying. The stimuli in the environment impacts how often intact males spray. More territory marking is observed during mating season. Intact males will spray when detecting a female in heat or the scent of another male cat in the area.

Overall, intact male cats that spray are likely to do so on a daily basis at minimum, with multiple daily spraying incidents being common. The frequency depends on factors like mating behaviors, perceived threats from other cats, and territorial boundary marking needs. Neutering typically greatly reduces spraying frequency in male cats.

How Often Do Neutered Males Spray

Neutering significantly reduces, but does not completely stop spraying in male cats. According to VCA Hospitals, approximately 10% of neutered males will continue to spray after being fixed. Another source from San Bernardino County indicates a similar figure, with 10% of cats neutered before 10 months of age still spraying as adults.

So while the overwhelming majority of male cats will stop spraying after neutering, roughly 1 in 10 neutered males may continue to exhibit the behavior. The reduction in testosterone from neutering diminishes the motivation to spray. However, in some cases, the habit has already formed prior to neutering or there may be other factors like stress or anxiety causing the cat to spray.

Overall, neutering is very effective at curbing spraying in 90% of male cats, though it does not completely eliminate the behavior in all cats. Monitoring the cat’s environment, using pheromone diffusers, and consulting a vet can help manage spraying in the minority of neutered males who persist in the habit.

Reducing Spraying

There are several methods you can try to reduce or stop spraying behavior in male cats.


Neutering or castration is the most effective way to stop spraying in male cats. Neutering removes the testicles and reduces testosterone levels, which decreases the desire to spray urine. Studies show that neutering can stop spraying behavior in 90% of cats [1]. Neutering is recommended for male cats before 6 months of age to prevent spraying from ever starting.

Clean Soiled Areas Thoroughly

It’s important to thoroughly clean any areas where your cat has sprayed urine using an enzymatic cleaner designed for pet stains. This helps remove all traces of the urine odor, which can attract your cat to spray there again. You may need to clean carpets, walls, furniture and other marked areas repeatedly until the behavior stops [2].

Reduce Stress

Stress is a major trigger for spraying in cats. Try to identify and reduce anything stressful for your cat like changes to their environment, a new pet or family member, or conflict with other cats. Providing environmental enrichment through toys, scratching posts, cat trees and playtime can also help relieve stress.

When to See a Vet

If your cat’s spraying behavior persists despite making changes to reduce stress and anxiety, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. Persistent spraying can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue that needs attention.

Certain health conditions may cause or contribute to spraying, including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Skin allergies/irritation

A vet can run tests to check for these conditions. Treatment of the underlying issue may help resolve the spraying. For example, antibiotics for a UTI or allergy medication for skin irritation.

It’s also important to rule out health problems in newly adopted adult cats with a history of spraying. There could be an undiagnosed condition causing the behavior.

See your vet if the spraying started suddenly in a normally well-behaved cat. Dramatic behavior changes can signify illness or pain. Your vet can examine your cat for signs of injury, inflammation, or other issues.

In summary, take your cat to the vet if spraying is an ongoing problem not resolved by environmental changes. It may indicate a medical condition needs treatment. A vet workup can identify or rule out issues to get the spraying under control.

Medical Conditions Causing Spraying

Certain medical conditions may cause male cats to spray urine. Two common conditions are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and diabetes. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply, causing inflammation and irritation. Symptoms of a UTI include frequent urination, blood in the urine, and spraying urine in inappropriate places. Diabetic cats may spray urine due to excessive thirst and urination. The excess sugar in their urine also makes these cats more prone to UTIs. Another medical condition that can lead to spraying is arthritis. Arthritic cats may spray urine because they have difficulty moving around to access the litter box.

If a male cat starts spraying, it’s important to take him to the vet for a urinalysis and physical exam. Treating conditions like UTIs, diabetes, and arthritis can help resolve inappropriate urination and spraying. For cats with arthritis, placing litter boxes in easily accessible areas and using lower-sided boxes can make it easier to use the litter box. Monitoring diabetic cats and giving insulin as prescribed can also minimize excessive urination. Addressing underlying medical issues is key to stopping spraying in senior male cats.

Spaying/Neutering Considerations

The best age to spay or neuter a cat is generally around 5-6 months old according to most veterinarians, though some advocate for doing it earlier at 3-4 months. The key benefits of early spay/neuter before 5 months include preventing unintended pregnancies, reducing spraying and marking behaviors that develop at puberty, decreasing the risks of some cancers, and avoiding future heat cycles.

There are a few different spay and neuter procedures performed on cats:

  • Spaying females involves removing the ovaries and uterus.
  • Neutering males can involve just removing the testicles (castration) or removing both the testicles and penis (castration plus penile resection).

Both spay and neuter procedures require general anesthesia. They are considered routine surgeries, but still carry some risks like infection or reactions to anesthesia. Vets will monitor the cat closely before, during, and after surgery. Most cats recover fully within 7-10 days.


In summary, the frequency of marking and spraying in male cats can vary greatly depending on factors like their age, neuter status, and environment. Intact male cats often begin spraying around 6 months old when they reach sexual maturity and may spray multiple times per day during mating seasons. Neutering is very effective at reducing this behavior in 90% of cats, though some may continue to spray lifelong. The best ways to minimize spraying are to neuter before sexual maturity, clean soiled areas thoroughly with enzymatic cleaners, reduce stress and anxiety, provide environmental enrichment, and consult a vet for medical issues. With patience and effort, spraying can often be significantly reduced or resolved entirely. The keys are addressing the underlying motivation, whether it’s hormones, stress, territory marking or medical problems.

As a final tip, make sure to neuter your male cat before 6 months old if possible. Clean soiled areas immediately and use special enzymatic cleaners designed for cat urine. Try synthetic pheromone plugins to ease stress and anxiety. Give your cat plenty of playtime, affection and positive interactions. And if issues persist beyond 6 months post-neuter, consult your vet to rule out underlying medical conditions. With the right approach, most cats can live happy, healthy lives without the need to spray urine around the home.

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