If you have ever owned an unneutered male cat, you know that one of the biggest challenges of owning him can be dealing with his strong urine scent in and around your home.
This urine odor tends to increase as your cat grows older, so many owners decide to neuter their cat to keep this from happening or to lessen the severity of the smell. But, is there any reason why you should neuter your male cat at all?
Learn about when you should and shouldn’t neuter your male cat in this article about unneutered male cats and cat spraying.
Do All Unneutered Male Cats Spray?
No, not all unneutered male cats spray. Cats only do this to mark their territory, which is why neutering is recommended to prevent this behavior. Cats spray as a way of marking their territory with strong-smelling urine to warn other cats away. The spraying process involves back-arching, tail twitching, and quivering, and ends with the cat spraying urine on vertical surfaces.
The problem is that when an unneutered male cats spray, the strong odor is unpleasant for us and other animals. Neutering is advisable because it eliminates the urge to spray in most cases.
The Science Behind Cat Spraying
When most cat owners hear or see their cat spraying, they often believe it sign of dominance or aggression. Although some male cats can spray because of these two reasons, many don’t.
The main reason for a male cat to spray is that he’s trying to mark his territory due to an actual change in his environment or stress levels or changes in his routine.
Changes like new furniture or threatening smell may prompt dominance over that area by spraying it with pheromones and urine. There are several kinds of sprays such as
- Pinpoint sprays are small amounts of urine markings against objects;
- Straight sprays are usually having direction against vertical surfaces such as walls.
Also, cover-up sprays look similar to pinpoint sprays but actually aim at covering up marks left by other cats; and forward-facing/targeted sprays allow males to effectively communicate with each other when there’s no female present.
When possible, have your veterinarian test your cat for urinary tract infections (UTIs) before making any changes. UTIs aren’t always obvious, which means you might not notice symptoms right away.
Signs of an Unneutered Male Cat
If you have a male cat, he could be spraying urine around your home to mark his territory. A sign of a neutered male cat is that his urine should smell like vinegar or ammonia.
The smell can range from subtle to very pungent. It might seem strange at first, but a strong smell is a sign that your kitty is fixed.
In an unneutered male cat’s case, their urine will often have less of an odor than it would otherwise because testosterone suppresses odors in many animals, including cats (the same goes for human males).
Neutering your cat is important for many reasons – not just so they don’t mark their territory!
Why Neuter Your Cat?
Neutering your cat means taking out its reproductive organs, so it can’t reproduce.
Neutering is a big word that refers to two things:
- castration for males, which involves removing their testicles;
- and spaying for females, which involves removing their ovaries and uterus.
We’ll only discuss male cat neutering here as it pertains to cats spraying in your home.
Castrating a male stops them from producing sperm, therefore they cannot impregnate female cats.
It also makes them less aggressive because they will not want to fight over territory (your home) with other male cats that are trying to get close enough to attract mates.
This will reduce any territorial marking behaviors like urine spray markings on walls, beds, or carpets.
Spay and Neuter Before Adoption
If you’re looking to adopt a cat, spay or neuter your new friend before you bring them home.
Research shows that 88% of cats will continue to spray after adoption if we don’t fix them beforehand.
If you decide to keep your cat past its first heat cycle, make sure to neuter him before entering puberty.
Neutering male cats at six months old (and preferably earlier) can help prevent spraying behavior due to territorial instincts.
Even if you don’t plan on adopting any more pets in the future, it’s still important to get your male cat fixed as soon as possible, so he doesn’t start spraying later in life.
In short: be proactive about preventing spraying behavior instead of reactive when it occurs!
Spay and Neuter While in Foster Care
Most people wouldn’t dream of getting a dog without having it spayed or neutered, but cat owners aren’t always so responsible.
When shelters house animals in foster care, they need to address these issues before adoption-and that doesn’t mean just neutering male cats!
If your unaltered pet is spraying urine on carpets or furniture, speak with your veterinarian about Spay and Neuter procedures.
You may also want to invest in a cat-friendly enzyme cleaner to clean up after him; Feline Pine is a recommended option for its natural scents.
Spay and Neuter During the Adoption Process
If you’re adopting a cat, consider fixation on your initial conversation with an adoption center or rescue group.
This can reduce his urge to spray, making him a more compatible companion for any future owners.
Also, many shelters charge less for neutered cats than they do intact ones-and most shelters won’t adopt out one that isn’t already sterilized (meaning if you decide to adopt it out later down the road, it must be unaltered).
Plus, spay/neuter is good for pet health: An unaltered cat who doesn’t have access to a female in heat might develop anxiety issues or stress-related medical problems over time.
How Long Does it Take For a Neutered Cat to Stop Spraying?
When neutering a cat to stop him from spraying, it’s important to realize that there is no set time frame for it to stop.
While some cats never spray after surgery, others will continue for months or even years afterward, but it generally takes longer for males than females.
Most unaltered male cats will stop spraying if they’re neutered between 7 to 9 months of age.
Do all unneutered male cats spray? No, not all of them do but If you think your male cat might be spraying, then it maybe is time to have him neutered.
There are many benefits of having a male cat neutered.
These include reducing his risk of contracting various illnesses (e.g., FIV) that are transmitted by fighting and can shorten his life, reducing aggression between household cats, reducing roaming tendencies (which can lead to vehicular accidents), and reducing or eliminating spray-marking.