In cat detectivism the blacklight is your best friend

Cat detectivism is a phrase coined by Jackson Galaxy to describe figuring out what is behind cat behavior problems such as peeing in the wrong place. You have to approach it in a business-like manner without emotion by relying on the facts. And to uncover the facts the blacklight is useful. ‘Blacklight’ refers to UV light which is invisible to the human eye which is why it is called ‘black’.

UV light detects urine stain
UV light detects urine stain. Image: MikeB.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Do you have a UV flashlight? They are cheap ($5 or £5) and useful if you think that your cat might be peeing around the house for whatever reason and the usual reason will be territorial marking in response to stress or idiopathic cystitis which can also be brought on by stress. Funny that: stress is a major player in unwanted cat behavior and alleviating it is the responsibility of their caregiver.

In the words of the great man himself (Jackson Galaxy), “If you are talking about urine issues, your best friend is a UV flashlight”. At crime scenes it is used to detect blood. It detects urine because wavelengths in blacklight cause phosphorous and proteins in the pee to glow.

As you can guess, you wait until the sun goes down and your home is dark. Don’t turn on the lights and start walking around the areas where you think there might be pee.

You might be surprised at the things you see and which were previously invisible. However, it does pick up stuff other than pee. You’ll see lots of ‘stains’. It might shock some people.

If it detects a stain that might be urine, I use my olfactory skills to confirm that it is. I used a blacklight a couple of years ago because I thought I could smell urine on the ground floor of my home. I thought that it was possible that my cat was spraying inside the home because of the intrusions of a neighbour’s cat who liked (and still likes) to come into my home through the cat flap. However, he was not doing it. Although I have seen him spray in the garden and in communal gardens when I lived in a flat.

Jackson says that “For the sake of Detectivism record the shape [of the potential urine stain detected by the blacklight]. For instance, little drops can signify a urinary tract infection, while marks that start vertically on furniture or the wall and pool down at the floor tell you most likely it is territorial marking”.

The ‘urinary tract infection’ that he is referring to is cystitis. When cats have this health problem, they feel compelled to pee but produce small drops of urine sometimes bloody on the carpet of even in the bath tub because it seems that they don’t want to do it on the carpet. Of course, if it is bloody you won’t need a blacklight. The cure is antibiotics as this is a bacterial infection.

I would expect problems with territorial marking to most likely occur in multi-cat homes. My neighbour has or had ten cats and her home smells horrendously of ammonia, a component of urine. Her cats are probably spraying walls in a desperate attempt to establish a home range of some sort as they are confined to a three bedroomed semi-detached house. Urine contains: water, urea (from amino acid metabolism), inorganic salts, creatinine, ammonia, and pigmented products of blood breakdown.

A fresh urine stain will be darker under UV light. As the protein strands in the urine breakdown the stain as shown by the UV light becomes lighter.

The blacklight should be useful in multi-cat homes.

Below are some articles on inappropriate urination.

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