Does your cat ever look like he’s about to spray something in the house but nothing comes out? They call this a phantom spray and there’s differing ideas why kitties do this online.
Our oldest cat, Oliver Twist, does this to the bush when he’s outside. Pooh Bear (our orange tabby) goes and literally sprays the bush and then Twist comes up behind him and phantom sprays it. So weird, huh?
The funny thing is that Twist has no problem spraying certain spots inside the house. Whenever the guest bathroom door is open (which is rare), he likes to go in and spray the shower curtain. His sprayer is obviously not broken, so why the fake spray outside?
Cats That Fake Spray
Cats spray to mark their territory. It’s not a sign of rebellion or a ‘mean gesture’ because they don’t know that the smell sucks for their human counterparts. They like their own brand and thus mark certain spots with said brand.
I did some research on this and many say that phantom spraying happens if the cat never learned how to spray. Okay, I guess that would make sense for maybe some female cats or even solo cats (kitties without feline siblings)… but not Twist.
So I did further research and the one similarity I found is that this is often a stress related gesture. I guess Twist could be stressed about Pooh Bear marking the territory and fake sprays it behind him because he got to it first? That would make sense.
Another idea I read was that cats do this ‘virtual spray’ because they don’t see the need to release urine. That would also make sense. Twist and Pooh Bear are the best of buds, so maybe he’s just going through the motion but doesn’t need to release.
Does your cat phantom spray? If so, watch closely to see if there are any other signs of stress. Keeping our kitties’ anxiety levels in check is important for their overall health so don’t just overlook this behavior if it’s happening in your home.
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