Cat Spray vs Cat Pee: What’s the Difference and How to Stop Cats From Spraying in the House

Cat Spray vs Cat Pee: What’s the Difference and How to Stop Cats from Spraying in the House

Do you have a cat? Have you seen them spraying around your home? Is there anything you can do to stop this annoying—and smelly—habit?

You can typically tell the difference by the location of the liquid. The fastest way to tell between cat spray and cat pee is if the substance is on a horizontal or vertical surface. Of course, there are other factors to consider.

If you’re a cat owner, chances are good you’ve experienced spraying at least once or twice. Some cats are much more prone to spraying than others, but all cats are capable of doing this. In this article below, you’ll find out more information about the difference between cat spray and cat pee, as well as what you can do to encourage your cat to stop marking so much. Read on to find out more.

What is the Purpose of Spraying?

Spraying serves several purposes for cats. For example, male cats typically use this behavior to mark their territories. They leave scents behind on surfaces so other cats will smell them and realize that the territory has already been claimed.

Female cats may spray to let males know they want to mate. Male and female cats both may also spray when they’re feeling stressed or when they’ve recently moved to a new location and need to reclaim some territory for themselves.

cat spraying in matthews, nc

How Can You Tell Spray from Pee?

When it happens in the litter box, it’s easy to recognize urine for what it is. However, cats may also pee outside the litter box for a variety of reasons, too. If the surface where you find the urine is horizontal (the floor, the bed, or your cat’s blanket), then it is probably pee.

On the other hand, cats spray by standing up and backing up to a vertical surface they want to mark. If you find urine on the walls, cabinets, or door frames, then this is spray, and it is not the same as a bathroom issue.

What Can You Do to Stop a Cat From Spraying?

There are a number of things you can do to try and prevent your cat from spraying.

Provide a Safe Space for Your Cat

Cats who are under stress or who do not feel as though they have a territory to call their own may spray more often than those who have a safe space. Set up a part of your home that can belong solely to your cat, such as a quiet nook with their favorite bedding or a guest room that isn’t used very often. Keep your cat’s bed, blanket, food and water dishes, and toys in this space so they know it is theirs.

Clean Locations Where They Have Already Sprayed

Carefully clean any locations where cats have already sprayed. Cats return to the same spaces to mark their territory time and time again, so be sure to deep-clean spray stains to remove as much of the scent as possible from the surface. Use an enzyme cleaner as well as a mixture of water and white vinegar to double-clean these spaces, and make sure you remove as much of the visible stain as possible. While your cat may still be able to smell what you cannot, the less odor that is present, the more likely your cat will be to avoid spraying that space again.  You can also use a pheromone spray like Feliway to reduce the likelihood of spraying the same location again.

Consider Spaying or Neutering

It is important to note that spaying and neutering do not automatically stop cats from spraying altogether, but they can cut down significantly on spraying related to mating and territory issues. With fewer reasons to spray, your cat will likely not be as interested in this behavior, and will find other means of marking his space instead. You may notice your cat rubbing their face on door frames and furniture more often to mark their territory after they have been spayed or neutered, since spraying isn’t really a good solution for their needs anymore.

Manage Your Cat’s Anxiety

It is possible that your cat could be spraying out of extreme anxiety. If you believe you have a very anxious cat, talk to your vet about putting him on an anti-anxiety medication. It may also be that you simply need to provide your cat with more interaction and stimulation throughout the day to help with the anxiety problem. Give your cat several surfaces to jump on and scratch, and play interactively with him a little bit every day for the best results. The more you focus on your cat’s physical and mental stimulation needs, the less likely he will be to spray.


Spraying is a common activity among male cats, but it can happen in female cats too. If your cat is spraying, regardless of gender or age, it is important to make sure the spray is not a urinary issue first. Once you rule out the chance that your cat could be peeing on surfaces in your home, then you can work through the list above to resolve the spraying problem.

If you have further questions or concerns about your cat’s health and habits, talk to your vet for more information. Your vet can help you figure out the best option for dealing with your cat’s spray.

If your cat is frequently spraying near Matthews, NC contact our team at Caring Hearts Animal Hospital. We’ll find the root cause of this issue and help you and your cat move forward. Our team is also Fear Free Certified.  Make an appointment for your cat by calling us at (704) 893-2799 or by scheduling an appointment online.