What Does Cat Spray Smell Like? Does It Smell Like Poop?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

what does cat spray smell like

Cats spray when they are in heat or feel the need to assert themselves or their territory.

What does cat spray smell like? Each cat has its distinct odor, but cat spray basically smells like more potent cat urine with more powerful hits of ammonia, plus a few extra whiffs of added chemicals unique to cat spray.

The precise smell also depends on if your cat is male or female and if it has been neutered or spayed.

Why Do Cats Spray?


Spraying is a normal part of a cat’s life. It is done more frequently by males, but female kittens spray too. It is a form of communication among felines, signaling everything from sexual availability to territorial boundaries.

Dealing with cat spraying is a shared experience among cat owners. Many have gathered on Reddit to ask fellow feline parents for advice on how to get their cats to stop spraying and how to get rid of the smell of spray.

What Does Male Cat Spray Smell Like?

All male cats are driven to spray by their hormones, and their spray is the most intense. Male cat spray has a more intense cat urine smell, a smell that is usually compared to ammonia.

Cat spray odors are so strong because they are meant to draw attention. They are packed with extra chemicals that make the scents more potent and last longer than regular pee, and add a few scent notes that give you a clue you are smelling something else.

Getting your tomcat fixed will help, though an estimated 10% of neutered cats spray still. At the very least, his urges will be much less than before, and the smell of his spray will also be less penetrating.

What Does Female Cat Spray Smell Like?

Female cats spray, too, for the same reasons males do. But luckily, the female cat spraying smell is less pungent than the male cat spray odor.

Because of extra hormones, female cat spray has been described as having a “sweet and musky” smell, mixed with the standard ammonia-cat-pee odor.

Spaying will help with the spraying, both the behavior and intensity of the scent, but an estimated 5% of female cats continue to urine mark after getting fixed.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I know if my cat sprayed? 

Move fast if you see your cat backed up against a surface with its tail standing straight up and quivering! These are sure signs of cat spraying.

It is distinctly different from when your cat is peeing – it would squat to do that.

If you were not in time to catch your pet in the act, it would be helpful to know what cat spray looks like.

You can typically see cats spraying indoors on vertical surfaces like your walls. You will also know that your cat sprayed by observing what color the stain is: cat spray is a darker yellow than regular pee and will have a different, sharper smell.

Does cat spray smell different than pee? 

Cat spray smells similar to cat pee but is stronger and more pungent. This makes sense since spraying is a form of communication, and cats want their messages to be heard.

Though it smells like urine, cat owners can relax about one thing – cat spray will never smell like poop!

Additionally, if you get whiffs of scents like skunk or like fish, that is not cat spray. More likely, your cat accidentally released oils from its anal glands out of excitement or fright.

Does cat spray smell sweet?

Some owners of female cats have described their cat’s spray as having a sweet and musky smell. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the odor weren’t also layered on top of the default ammonia smell of cat pee (and spray)!

How long does cat spray smell last?

If not dealt with properly, the cat spray smell can actually last forever – or at least until you get desensitized to the scent or replace your furniture.

It’s best to clean cat pee or spray as soon as possible before it can seep into your walls, furniture, and maybe even appliances for years to come.

How can I get rid of male cat spray smell?

The most important thing to remember when cleaning cat spray off your walls and furniture is to use an enzymatic cleaner. These will directly attack the bacteria responsible for the foul odors, which can also get you sick.

If you want to use regular household items instead, you can use baking soda and vinegar to break down the chemicals in cat pee and rid your home of its odor.

Never use detergents that smell like ammonia. Since it smells like their pee, cats might read it as a sign to actually keep peeing and spraying in that area.


Cat spray, unfortunately, comes part and parcel of being a cat owner. But what does cat spray smell like, ammonia and musk aside?

Cat spray smells of friendship, warmth, coziness, and soft cuddles at night. A home with wafts of cat spray smells signals a home truly lived in by a human and his beloved feline companion.

Though your home may have shed cat hair, torn furniture, and pee stains here and there, you must admit that your home and your life are richer because your pet cat is in it.

Read more: Cats start spraying at what age?

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