Cat pee 101: The basics

cat pee

Cat pee outside the litter box is the most common reason cats are abandoned, relinquished or euthanized.  Dr. Anna Coffin presents a series of blogs containing everything you wanted to know about cat pee and how to keep it in the litter box!

Let’s get down to the basics of cat pee.  Why does it smell so bad? 

There are a number of factors that cause cat pee to smell worse than dog pee. 

  • Cat’s bodies are able to effectively squeeze every little bit of water out of their food so that they don’t have to drink as much.  This fact makes cat pee more concentrated and thus more odoriferous. 
  • Intact male cat pee contains pheromones and the hormone, testosterone, which signals nearby male cats to stay clear of the area while signaling to female cats that he is available.
  • Intact male cat pee also contains a sulfur containing amino acid called felinine.  Sulfur is extremely odoriferous and is the main component responsible for that horrible cat pee odor. 

The production of this special sulfur containing amino acid, felinine, is dependent on two dietary amino acids:  methionine and cysteine.  Cysteine is also an important nutrient needed for hair growth.  This fact lead Dutch researches to conduct a study of 83 intact male cats of varying hair length.  They were able to determine that cat breeds with short hair had stronger smelling cat pee than cat breeds with longer hair, with the exception of the Persian.  It all makes sense, because the amount of cysteine available in the cat’s body must be used to make hair or to make felinine.  Longer haired cats use it to make hair and thus have less of it in their pee.  That’s something to think about next time you’re looking to inquire a new cat. [Tweet “cat breeds with short hair had stronger smelling cat pee than cat breeds with longer hair”]

Stay tuned next week: 


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