Skip to main content
Cleaning after a cat

Why cats spray territory and how to prevent it

Whether it’s through sound or behavior, animals are able to connect in ways that humans do not always understand. Though cats might share territory with others, they are naturally self-sufficient creatures and, unlike dogs, don’t often confront each other directly. In order to communicate, therefore, a cat may leave messages and signals by spraying. This is sometimes known as cat scent-marking.

Why do cats mark their territory?

Urine marking allows a cat to let others know what areas he has claimed, how long ago he was nearby and even when he’ll return. This skill is part of a highly sophisticated social and communication system that cats have naturally developed for survival. By designating the boundaries of its territory, marking helps a cat feel safe.

However, while the technique makes sense to the cats, it is not necessarily an acceptable practice to humans. Although spraying is an instinct, it can be prevented and corrected.

How to prevent a cat from spraying

The likelihood of urine spraying increases with the number of cats in the household. Assuming there is only one cat, here are some tips to prevent the behavior before it starts.

1. Get your cat spayed or neutered. Cats that haven’t been neutered or spayed are more likely to mark their territory. The tendency may decrease significantly if they are fixed before puberty.

2. Make sure your cat is getting enough attention. Though cats are independent, they may seek a trusted owner’s attention to meet social needs. If your cat doesn’t feel the love, it may be more likely to spray or mark.

3. Don’t let your cat around strays — Neighborhood cats or strays can threaten your pet’s sense of security, causing it to want to set boundaries. If your cat is especially territorial, it might be because it feels vulnerable. By exposing it to other pets in a healthy way, you can help make the cat more comfortable in its environment.

4. Check if your cat is anxious. A cat may spray more due to anxiety. You can address the issue by using herbs to calm it down. Catnip, valerian, kava kava, chamomile and St. John’s wort all have soothing effects on behavior.

How to correct spraying behavior

It can be frustrating if your cat is already in the habit of marking your furniture. However, the following tips can address the issue and help stop cats from spraying in the house.

1. Determine why your cat is spraying. Spraying usually has a medical or behavioral explanation. If your cat’s scent-marking has become a recurring issue, identify and eliminate any potential stress in its life.

2. Visit the vet. If the issue is medical, visit a veterinarian. Spraying could be related to diabetes, urinary tract infections, feline lower urinary tract disease, kidney infection or thyroid or liver disease.

3. Safely implement synthetic pheromones. If your cat is anxious, synthetic products can imitate the pheromone that felines produce when they feel comfortable in their surroundings.

4. Address your cat’s regularly sprayed areas. Thoroughly clean and deodorize any areas that have been sprayed to prevent the cat from returning. Additionally, by keeping those spaces or objects inaccessible, the cat may be less inclined to spray it. You can also increase the amount of litter trays you keep in the house.

Training a cat or correcting its spraying behavior takes patience and understanding.


Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology—the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud—and the industry’s most comprehensive pet insurance plans.

dog out for walk in nature

After a long winter indoors, most of us...

dog outside chasing ball

Depending on where you live, it may not...

cute dog and cat

Folliculitis is a common infection that...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

small dog playing with toy

Your dog won’t come up to you and say, “I’m...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Woman with two dogs checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...