Why Does a Neutered Male Cat Still Spray?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the majority of neutered male cats do not spray. Those that do usually use it as a form of communication. It informs other cats of their presence, how long they were in an area and when they will return.

Some neutered male cats may spray if there is an issue with their litter box or if they become stressed by a new situation. Cats that spray because of stress usually do so because there has been some type of change in the household. This may include the addition of a new pet, someone moving into or out of the home, house remodeling, having a baby or even making a new purchase for the home. In some cases, spraying comforts cats by allowing them to be surrounded by their own familiar scent.

Neutered males cats also spray to mark their territory, especially if they live in a household with other cats. Known as urine marking, this helps cats keep unwanted visitors away. Unlike dogs, cats do not have a social system or an interpersonal communication system. Because of this, cats do not have a social mechanism, such as interpersonal ranking, to prevent conflicts. Cats do not typically fall under positions of leadership or submission. Instead, cats interpret body language to determine intent, and base their actions accordingly. This means that they often try to avoid each other. Even when cats share territory with other cats, they sometimes take a time-share approach to prevent interaction.