Urination most often occurs in a quiet, hidden location and usually comprises five individual behaviours performed in sequence; however, not all of these behaviours will be exhibited by all cats.

  1. First of all the cat sniffs the substrate it is intending to urinate in.
  2. The cat will then use one or both forelegs to scrape or dig a hole into the substrate.
  3. Most cats will lower their hind quarters into a squatting position, positioning themselves over the scraped hole to void urine.
  4. When squatting to urinate the back is relatively straight, this is in contrast to the rounded back of a cat that is defaecating. The hind legs are also bent and directed outwards (Case, 2003), and the tail is held away from the body. However, some cats with arthritis or lower urinary tract infections may find it painful to squat fully and may urinate standing up.
  5. Immediately after urinating, the cat will usually turn around to sniff the soiled substrate.
  6. The cat will then attempt to bury the urine by scraping the substrate with one or both forepaws.

Alternating between sniffing and scraping after urination is commonly observed.

The following video shows a cat urinating.

The arrow highlights the straight back posture commonly observed during urination.

In the following video, a cat is urinating in an unusual location which gives the opportunity to clearly view the urine being voided. The arrow illustrates the direction of urine flow, note how this changes. Urinating from a standing posture

Please watch the following video noting the similarity between urinating from a standing position and spraying. However there are a number of key differentiating features that allow one to conclude that this cat is urinating not spraying.

Choice of a designated latrine area

  • Sniffing the horizontal substrate as opposed to the vertical object
  • Beginning the urination sequence from a squatting position
  • Attempts to bury soiled substrate

Please note that as with all behaviour knowing the context is important and the cat in this video is known always to urinate in this manner and does not mark any vertical surface indoors.

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