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When Do Male Cats Start Spraying

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Male cats start spraying when they reach sexual maturity, which varies depending on breed. Precocious breeds can start spraying as early as 5 months old.
  • Male cats spray to mark their territory, advertise their sexual availability, and as a stress response.
  • It's important to rule out urinary infections if your cat is having bathroom accidents rather than spraying.
  • To reduce spraying behavior, use odor-neutralizing products, create positive associations with target sites, and identify and reduce sources of stress.
  • Neutering can reduce spraying behavior in male cats, but it doesn't guarantee it will stop completely. Creating a safe space for your cat can also help reduce spraying. Female cats can also spray for similar reasons as males.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Friday 15 December 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
When Do Male Cats Start Spraying
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Your male cat is a neat and tidy gentleman when it comes to his bathroom habits. So, spotting him urinating on walls, furniture, and prized possessions can be confusing and upsetting for new pet parents. However, this behavior is natural for your tomcat, and you’re likely to find him doing it at least once or twice. This brings us to the next question: when do male cats start spraying?

When asking what age male cats start spraying at, it’s important to consider their breed, triggers in and around the home, and their sexual status. To find out more about male cats spraying, read on with us today!

At What Age Do Male Cats Start Spraying

Your tomcat will start spraying when they reach sexual maturity. Sexual maturity in males, just like with females, is often down to your cat’s breed. Specific breeds will mature slower than others, so you won’t see sexual behaviors until later on – this is most common in larger cat breeds. For example, a male Persian matures at eight to twelve months. Male Ragdoll cats may not reach maturity until they are eighteen months old. Then, we have “precocious” tomcats. These breeds reach sexual maturity sooner than larger breeds do. For example, a Scottish Fold tomcat reaches maturity between five and seven months of age. Overall, these precocious breeds reach sexual maturity as early as 5 months old.

Why Do Male Cats Spray?

There are three main reasons why a male cat sprays: to mark his territory, to advertise his sexual availability, and as a stress response. These behaviors are most commonly seen when your cat reaches sexual maturity.

Your tomcat’s territory is very important to them once he matures. This is because your cat will not want to mate in a strange place – rather, they will set a familiar area to do so in. Occasionally, a new male cat will need more than one month to become familiar with his new surroundings – but it’s far more likely for them to settle down within a few days. This behavior marks the very early stages of mating. Once your cat is satisfied with their territory, he will spray urine on “prominent” sites. You will see him back up against objects, raise his tail, and spray. By doing this, your cat lets others know that he has been there even if he is gone. This signals ownership and advertises his sexual availability to female cats in the area.

A tomcat will also mark his territory when he feels stressed or threatened in some way. This might occur along with changes in household routine, living arrangements, and other changes in the home. In these cases, your cat may mark new objects, especially those where there is a greater source of insecurity. You might find that he marks entry and exit points to the outdoors, such as on doors and windows. By marking new things or sources of stress, your cat is trying to boost his confidence and security. He is claiming ownership of these areas, thereby making him feel more secure in himself.

What to Do When Male Cats Start Spraying

First and foremost, it’s essential to identify whether your cat is truly spraying or is having accidents. A male cat will back up against an object or area, raise his tail, and slightly shake it as he sprays. If your cat is not actively spraying like this, it’s important to rule out urinary infections. Be sure to take a trip to your local vet if you suspect that your cat is unwell.

Make Sure They Are Trained

It is sometimes possible to reduce spraying behavior by creating new, positive associations with their target sites. Firstly, invest in an odor-neutralizing product to get rid of the odor that draws your cat back to that spot. By removing the odor, your cat is less incentivized to repeat the behavior. Then, change the association of that area by placing food bowls, toys, or beds as close to that spot as possible. Your cat is less likely to want to spray where he sleeps, eats, and plays. By doing this, you encourage your cat to see this area as a safe place for them, thereby reducing the urge to spray it all over again. With this said, do not punish your cat for spraying. Your cat is very unlikely to understand why you are upset and will only become more stressed, increasing undesirable behaviors.

Identify Whether They Are Stressed Out

If your tomcat develops a spraying habit, it can be a sign that he is stressed and uncomfortable. He may be struggling to adjust to any changes that are occurring in and around your home. You can help your cat by identifying the causes of his stress and then taking steps to reduce it where possible. One of the most common causes of stress spraying is the presence of other cats!

If your cat’s behavior is triggered by spotting cats outside of the home, you may need to find ways to deter them from coming onto your property or block your cat’s access to other cats that are outside. You might be able to do this by keeping your windows closed to prevent him from smelling outdoor cats, using odor neutralizers on areas that other cats spray, and keeping them away from places that will allow them to see other cats. If your cat is threatened by other cats in your home, it may be worth reintroducing them. Allow your cats together for positive experiences like feeding, giving treats, and play sessions for small amounts of time at first, gradually increasing this time until the cats are more forgiving of each other.

Neuter Your Cat

If you do not intend to breed your healthy male cat, castration is a viable option for him. By neutering your cat, the odor of their urine changes, which can reduce his motivation for spraying. However, according to VCA Hospitals, approximately 10% of neutered male cats will continue to spray. Even so, neutering your male cat comes with several other benefits. A male cat who has been neutered may feel less desire to roam, therefore less likely to be injured in fights with other cats. It reduces the number of unwanted kittens as well, thereby improving the breeding quality of the cat population.

Provide a Safe Space

If your cat develops a spraying habit, stress is a common culprit. As such, you might want to invest in creating a “safe space” for him. This will be an area where he feels secure, relaxed, and safe. So, firstly, be sure to provide your cat with a place to retreat that cannot be accessed by other pets in the home. No cat wants to be disturbed by a boisterous dog when they are trying to relax! Your cat should be able to enter and exit this space from at least two sides if he becomes frightened. Ideally, this space will be big enough for only themselves to fit. In your cat’s safe space, there should be soft blankets or a cozy bed, access to food and water, and a scratcher that is easy to access.

Do Female Cats Spray?

Like tomcats, female cats will also spray objects, and for similar reasons too. Your female cat may spray in response to stress, to mark her territory, or when she is in heat to attract male cats. Spaying your cat reduces the likelihood that she will spray, but a small number will continue to do so – about 5% of spayed cats will spray after surgery! Much like for tomcats, reducing spraying in female cats involves identifying stressors in and around the home. These might include the presence of outdoor cats, poor relationships with other cats in your home, and changes in the home that she is struggling to cope with.

When Do Male Cats Start Spraying: FAQs

Still wondering when male cats start spraying? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your furry friend’s health, always contact your local vet for advice!

How do you know when a male cat is going to spray?

Before a male cat sprays, he will back up against a surface, raise his tail, and lightly shake it. When a cat sprays, he will do so vertically rather than squatting on the ground. If your cat squats low rather than backing up against something, it suggests normal toileting behavior.

Do all male cats spray in the house?

Not all male cats will spray indoors. If your cat is neutered, feels secure in his home, and is well-adjusted to other pets around him, he has little need to spray indoors. Frequent spraying suggests that there is something stressing him out in or around the home.

Will a male cat spray if not neutered?

A male cat can and will spray if he is intact, but the likelihood of it becoming a problem is reduced if he is neutered. However, every cat is different – while one intact cat may spray a lot, another may feel less drive to do so.

Can male cats be taught not to spray?

Some male cats respond well to positive association training. This involves teaching your cat that their most frequent spraying spots are not sources of stress. For example, you might use a de-odorizer and place valued resources like food and toys in that area to create a better association with the area.

What’s the difference between spraying and urinating in cats?

While urinating is a completely normal thing for all cats to do, spraying has a different purpose – this might be to mark territory, to signal sexual availability, or as a stress response. When a cat sprays, they will pick a surface, back up against it, lift their tail, and shake it as they deposit urine onto it. On the other hand, normal urination involves going to the toilet by squatting.

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