If there is one cat behavior that is equally misunderstood and despised, it’s spraying. Let’s face it, no one wants a cat performing this act in their home.
Would-be-owners are quite rightly concerned about spraying and wonder if it’s something that is part and parcel of having a cat.
It can be, but there are a variety of ways to reduce and even prevent it ever happening. When is it usual for a Maine Coon to start spraying?
Maine Coons can start spraying at around 6 months, as they reach sexual maturity. However, spaying females and neutering males will reduce and even stop spraying behaviour in the majority of Maine Coons.
There are various reasons why Maine Coons develop spraying behavior, and they are not limited to males. Female Maine Coons spray too.
What Exactly is Spraying?
Maine Coons don’t spray because they need to pee. Both males and females squat when they are urinating. Spraying involves a cat standing with its tail upright, its bottom directed towards a close target, and literally spraying a fine mist of urine.
As a cat sprays, you will often notice its tail quivering too. If its tail is not moving, it is not always obvious what it is doing. The end result is a urine-marked surface that states, “This is my territory.”
The target is usually vertical but can also be horizontal. A Maine Coon will spray all sorts of things including walls, doors, couches, chairs, fences, and trees.
How to prevent Maine Coons from spraying
If a Maine Coon is neutered before it has ever learned spraying behavior, you’ll have the best chance of it never spraying at all.
Early neutering prevented our current Maine Coons from spraying. They were neutered at 10 weeks of age and are now 13 months. We have not had any spraying incidents at all even though we have four cats.
On the other hand, 16 years go, we had two Maine Coon kittens sprayed a little. At the time neutering was recommended at 6 months and after this they never sprayed again.
On this basis, I recommend neutering or spaying a Maine Coon as early as safely possible to have the best chance of preventing it from spraying.
Why Do Maine Coons Spray
Cats instinctively use their scent to mark their territory. Most of the time they do this by rubbing up against things or scratching with their claws, but sometimes they mark with urine. There can be many reasons for this:
Spraying Because Of The Urge To Mate
When a male Maine Coon reaches sexual maturity he is ready to start spraying. Keep a close eye on his behavior as leading up to spraying, he may start yowling and meowing to attract a mate. He will also be extremely fidgety and unable to sit still for any length of time.
If a mate isn’t forthcoming that is when the spraying will begin. As soon spot the signs, make an appointment with your vet to have your cat neutered.
Your vet will tell you if he is at an appropriate age for the operation. Having this procedure carried out will put a stop to this hormonal response spraying.
It’s not as common for female Maine Coons to spray but sometimes they do. A female Maine Coon will spray from as early as 4 months or the first time she goes into heat.
The signs are lots of meowing and yowling, almost as if she’s in pain. She may also become extremely affectionate with you, rubbing against your ankles far more than usual.
Again spraying is hormone-driven by the instinct to mate and the best way to deter this is to have your kitten spayed. Your vet will advise you if she is ready to have this procedure carried out.
Reasons For Spraying After Neutering Or Spaying
Nearly all cats will stop urine marking once they have been neutered or spayed. If they do still spray, the odor should not be as pungent. There are a variety of reasons why this happens:
Multi-cat Household Problems
If cats within the household don’t get along this could lead to them urine marking. This can be difficult to resolve and quite often it is necessary to completely separate the cats for a while and provide them with their own personal litter boxes, sleeping places, and feeding areas.
Once spraying ceases you might be able to gradually reintroduce them to each other using positive experiences such as feeding and play.
Many cats that start spraying after they have been neutered or spayed are diagnosed with an underlying medical condition such as a urinary tract disease (UTI). So always have a vet check your cat to eliminate this as a cause before you start to investigate other reasons.
Stress in cats can have many causes and one of the resulting symptoms is repeatedly spraying their territory. Here is a list of things that might cause stress-related urine marking in a cat:
- A change to the household routine – Cats are creatures of habit and love routine. So if you are suddenly out more or change their feeding times this can make them feel anxious. You can’t help it if you have to go out but you can try to keep mealtimes as constant as possible. Make sure you give your cat plenty of quality attention when you are home and ensure it has ways to amuse itself when you’re out.
- A new pet – Introducing a new pet often causes upset to an existing pet so make gradual introductions and be sympathetic to your cat’s feelings. Give it plenty of attention and love so it doesn’t feel ignored. Ensure you tread carefully when introducing a new cat to an existing cat.
- A new baby – This can make a cat behave strangely because it usually means the household routines get completely changed. Try to keep your cat’s life as consistent as possible. You definitely don’t need a cat spraying all over the house whilst looking after a newborn.
- A house move – This is a very confusing time for cats. Their whole world as they know it is completely changed. They are likely to spray out of confusion as there will be a distinct lack of their happy little scent marks.
- A rearrangement or replacement of furniture – If you replace furniture as the old furniture is taken away so is your cat’s scent. And even rearranging furniture can confuse a cat because things are no longer where they should be.
- A strange cat prowling outside – This can really upset a cat, especially an indoor cat who might notice this through a window. You may hear your cat swearing at the stranger in the yard and the frustration can be enough to induce it to spray indoors in an attempt to let it be known that this is its territory. Try closing the curtains to block its view, preventing your cat from looking out of the window by blocking the ledge or moving anything it might sit on to get a view of the intruding cat.
- Boredom – If your cat hasn’t got a lot to do, boredom can trigger stress. Give it plenty of toys, a scratching tree (here are some excellent examples), and also make sure you play with it every day too.
- Loneliness – Maine Coons prefer to have company and the ideal way to ensure they are never alone is to get two at the same time. This way they will bond as they grow and you shouldn’t have territorial problems.
- Owner absence – Some cats are sensitive to their owners going away. The anxiety this causes can lead to spraying. If you have to go away and you use a cat sitter, try to make sure your cat gets to know them well enough not to fret at your absence.
How To Deal With Urine Marking
If your cat has sprayed in your home there are several things you can do to try to deter it from doing this repeatedly:
- Clean the marked area thoroughly – Don’t use a cleaning solution with a strong odor as your cat may spray there, even more, to try to override that smell.
- Make the area out of bounds – If your cat keeps spraying in the same area no matter what you do, stop giving your cat access to that area.
- Feed at the area – Cats don’t usually pee where they eat so making the area where your cat keeps spraying its feeding area may deter further urine marking there.
- Change the way your cat thinks of the area – Make the area a happy place where you play with your cat and give it treats. This may change your cat’s feelings towards that area and make it less inclined to spray there.
- Use Synthetic Pheromones– These come as a spray or a plug-in diffuser. They mimic your cat’s natural pheromones and can reduce the anxiety that causes excessive urine marking.
- Specific objects – If your cat develops a habit of spraying a specific item then move that item out of its reach. If it likes to spray new things that are brought into the house, make sure you keep them out of reach.
What Not To Do
There are several things you shouldn’t do when your Maine Coon sprays in the house:
Your cat will not make the connection between your shouting and its urine marking. You are more likely to scare it, raise its anxiety levels, and make it spray urine even more.
It is never acceptable to smack a Maine Coon (or any animal). For a start, you could injure it. You could also provoke it to bite or scratch you in retaliation. Again a cat won’t understand why you’ve hurt it but it may well spray all the more.
Don’t Rub Your Cat’s Nose In It
This is one of the most awful courses of action to take and yet I’ve heard so many people suggest this over the years. How anyone could be this cruel is beyond belief.
If you do this to a cat you deserve a bite or scratch in return. You will also raise its stress levels and it will probably spray again.
Don’t Squirt Your Cat With A Water Spray
Here’s another method that really doesn’t do anything except shock a cat and cause it to fear and distrust you. Over the years, people have noted that this type of punishment doesn’t really work.
What You Should Do
If your cat has been spayed or neutered, a vet has confirmed it doesn’t have a UTI, and you believe you have addressed any issues that are causing anxiety make an appointment to discuss the problem further with your vet.
It is very rare for a cat to spray if all is well, but sometimes a course of anxiety relief medication may help.
When Do Maine Coons Start Spraying? The verdict
If you’re thinking of buying a Maine Coon, don’t worry as it is unlikely to spray if you have it neutered or spayed as soon as it reaches sexual maturity.
If a Maine Coon does start spraying, there will be a cause and hopefully, you will be able to establish it and make changes to stop your cat from doing it.
If all else fails, then a vet or animal behaviorist will be able to give you the best advice.
People often ask do Maine Coons do this, do Maine Coons do that. Now you can read about the top 44 things that Maine Coons do all in one place!