This blog summaries the distinction between cat urination markings and will be continued in the upcoming January blogs with a discussion about urination problems and how they can be either prevented or eliminated.
It is important to know how to identify whether the cat is marking or just peeing where it should not. Urine marking refers to the ways in which cats spray urine to send information and put their scent out into their environment. Marking can be vertical sprays (most common), horizontal spraying (not as common) and associative.
As the picture above shows, spaying typically includes a cat backing up to a vertical object like the side of furniture, a wall, a pet carrier, etc. The cat stands with his/her body erect with the tail extended straight up in the air, and sprays urine onto the surface. The tail and body typically twitches while he/she is spraying.
The urine smells extra strong to humans because it is not just regular urine – the spray contains extra communication chemicals to send other cats key messages! It is thought that this spray may contain information about sex, age, hormonal state, assertiveness and general health.
Associative marking - there are conditions surrounding the cat that can promote cat associative marking behavior – examples include a cat being punished and becomes anxious or the owner is away from the cat for a long period of time and it urinates on something personal where the owner’s smell is concentrated such as a bed or clothes. From a cat’s perspective, they are ATTEMPTING TO REDUCE THEIR ANXIETY – they are not retaliating against you (which is what a human view might deduce from this behavior).
Read next week’s blog to learn more about urine markings and problems and how to effectively address them.
*Content adapted from Animal Behavior Institute (ABI).