If you're new to the exciting world of owning a cat, the concept of "spraying" may be an unfamiliar and daunting concept to you. When a cat sprays the interior of a home, he emits urine out of his urethra, just as he would when normally going No. 1.
Urine Spraying Location
In both male and female cats, spray comes out of the urethra in the genital region -- remotely near the rectum but in no way a part of it. The action of urine spraying is technically the same as normal urination, although the intention is not the same. When a cat goes No. 1 as normal, he's engaging in a mandatory regular bodily function. Spraying is slightly different; it can be related to anything from major territorial conflict within the household to the desire to find a mate. Don't get peeing and spraying, two different actions, mixed up.
Urine-Spraying Related to Mating
Urine-spraying is especially common in cats that are of reproductive maturity. The behavior is extremely rare in kittens younger than roughly 6 months or so, though. Intact felines often spray to convey an important message -- basically, "Cats of the opposite sex, please find me. I'm here and, as you can tell, available to mate." Tomcat urine in particular has a pungent chemical scent designed to get the attention of nearby queen cats. Although male cats are likely to spray at absolutely any time, female cats typically partake in the action only during estrus or "heat," which occurs every couple of weeks during warmer months.
Felines frequently spray as a means of tagging their turfs. Cats are extremely territorial creatures that, when they feel threatened by someone or something, do not hesitate to claim ownership of what they believe is their own. If you recently adopted a wee Russian Blue kitten into your home, for instance, don't be shocked if your older cat suddenly starts spraying everything from your walls to your couches. The senior cat is essentially saying to the newbie, "This place is mine. Don't even think about taking over, because I run this." Yikes.
If you notice any unusual emissions out of your pet's rectal area, investigate the situation further. Although this region is in no way associated with classic spraying, the issue could be related to something else. Perhaps your kitty is suffering from a persistent and intense bout of diarrhea. Take your fluff ball to the veterinarian to make sure everything is running smoothly in terms of her digestive system. Diarrhea and problems with the stools are often related to ailments such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis and parasitic infections such as giardia. Take action quickly and get your cutie back to her comfort zone as soon as possible.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Urinary System, Introduction
- ASPCA: Urine Marking in Cats
- The Humane Society of the United States: Marking Territory
- Mobile SPCA: Behavior - Spraying
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Behavior Problems - House Soiling
- ASPCA: Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- ASPCA: Diarrhea