Sunday 19 February 2012

Sprayed by Tiger Urine

If you go down to the zoo today be prepared for a big surprise! We know that our domestic cats can spray sometimes. This means marking territory by spraying a horizontal jet of urine against a vertical object behind the cat. Male cats have a "specially retractable penis" that allows them to leave these scent markers at a height that is perfect for other cats to sniff.

It is relative rare that domestic cats spray objects because they are usually neutered or spayed and domesticated and don't really have a home range to protect.

A home range is the area that the cat considers his or her home territory. They can be extremely large for the bigger wildcats such as the snow leopard. When the area is large it is impossible for the cat to physically patrol the area and see off intruders so scent marking is the next best thing. It says to intruders that the occupying cat is here and recently.

Here are some examples of how frequently wild cats spray their territory:
  • Male serval - up to 41.2 times per kilometer (46 times per hour).
  • Bobcats spray urine from 1.9-7.5 times per km.
  • Canada lynx spray more frequently than bobcats at about 10x per km.
  • Tigers spray mark territory "up to 11 times every 30 mins.
I found these to be high numbers. I had not realised how frequently wild cats sprayed their territory.

If you are visiting a zoo and looking into the tiger enclosure don't get too close because if you do and see the tiger turning around presenting his rear end towards you, you know what you are about to receive - a large shower of prime quality tiger urine. This has happened and will no doubt happen again.

I have been sprayed with serval urine when I entered a serval cage to photograph them - there were two, one male and one female. The male, a large cat, sprayed me very quickly. I had no chance to get out of the way. The picture below is of the cat who sprayed me.

Morpheus at A1 Savannahs.
You can read about Morpheus on this page. The information on spraying frequencies comes from The Natural History of the Wild Cats by Andrew Kitchener ISBN 0-8014-8498-7.


  1. I was sprayed by a Lion at the NEW ZOO in Green Bay when I was 10 - during a family re-union. It was awful, and everyone remembers to remind me of this when I visit that zoo! There is even a memorial site at the zoo with a cast of the late Lion. I prefer to view them from behind the glass from now on.

    1. LOL. I can laugh at that but it is not pleasant and the urine is so hard to get out of clothes. Still you are one of the few people on the planet who has been sprayed by a lion. You can boast about it!

    2. I've been sprayed too. My family still doesn't let me live it down and makes sure every new comer knows about it. I was about 7. I made the mistake of roaring at the male. I always have loved big cats. My grandma always teased me that it soaked in. >.<

    3. Your comment made me smile. Thanks Tammy.

  2. This story reminded me of how upsetting and stressful it was (not to mention incredibly expensive) to continually clean our carpets and replace our furniture when our cat use to pee in our house and make our home smell like a litter box. We used to mistakenly believe that the problem would go away and even considered giving our cat away in frustration. Other people told us to scream and shout at our furry friend, but this was never an option since it would just make him more anxious and confused. We knew there had to be a better way. We searched all over until we found a simple way to have a happy, contented and loving cat and dramatically reduce our stress levels. I could go on and on, but you would do well to check out this article, which has also been a great help to us and explains how to get the same results (and even better) that we are getting:
    Hope it helps anyone reading this!

  3. Thank you for commenting, Brian. I would expect that the reason why your cat sprayed in your home is because of stress related issues.

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  5. My Bio class in college took a trip to the zoo because it was in walking distance. A tiger sprayed the whole class.

  6. I got sprayed by a liger at McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary. Definitely a story to tell


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