What Is in the Liquid That Cats Spray?

Urine spraying often points to strain between household cats.
Urine spraying often points to strain between household cats. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

When you hear about cats "spraying," they're not exactly misting things with water or using a fancy room deodorizer. What they are doing, however, is urine marking. The liquid that cats use to spray is their own urine, made up of components such as water, ammonia, phosphate, sulfate and urea.

Urine Marking

If your cat sprays urine, it probably isn't a sign of a problem with his training. It instead is a way of employing the chemicals in urine to express feelings. Cats urine mark to communicate dissatisfaction, frustration or stress; alert individuals of the opposite sex of their mating availability; and label their "turf" or "property" as their own. Cats use their own personal smell -- via their urine -- to get their points across, both to human beings and to fellow felines. If you catch a cat in the act of spraying, it will probably be pretty apparent to you that he's actually urinating. It is often accompanied by a tail that is both raised and trembling.

Spraying Locations

Feline urine can give off a strongly unpleasant, chemical-based odor, especially if it comes courtesy of unfixed male cats. If your cat is spraying the interior of your home, your nose will guide you to it sooner or later, much to its annoyance. Cats frequently are drawn to vertical surfaces for spraying purposes -- think walls. They also gravitate toward nooks and crannies, and often even the borders of things, whether sofas or massive bay windows.

A Lot Less Urine

Cats tend to spray a lot less urine than they expel through routine urination in the pan. If you notice a small damp spot on a surface of something in your home, don't assume that it isn't spray simply because it is so minimal. Felines don't have to produce much of the stuff to convey their intended messages.

Multitude of Potential Causes

When it comes to specific triggers for urine spraying, the possibilities are practically endless. A lot of cats resort to spraying when they feel the pressure of a new pet's introduction into their home. Some cats spray when they're in confusing new surroundings and are having rough times coping with the disruption to their cozy normal lifestyles. Cats also frequently spray when they're feeling hormonal, and this applies to both sexes. If a male cat wants to broadcast his existence to females, urine might just be his tool of choice. In most cases, fixing cats cuts down greatly on spraying behaviors. If patches of urine -- and that unforgettable ammonia-like smell -- are driving you a little bonkers, it might be time to call up the veterinarian to set up a surgery appointment. Your cat will probably appreciate you for it later on, as well.

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