GC × GC-MS-Based Volatile Profiling of Male Domestic Cat Urine and the Olfactory Abilities of Cats to Discriminate Temporal Changes and Individual Differences in Urine

Suzuki, C.; Miyazaki, T.; Yamashita, T.; Miyazaki, M.

Journal of Chemical Ecology 45(7): 579-587


ISSN/ISBN: 1573-1561
PMID: 31256322
DOI: 10.1007/s10886-019-01083-3
Accession: 069105783

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Domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) are solitary and territorial, and mark their territories by spraying urine, which emits a strong odor produced by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Previous studies have focused on identifications of specific VOCs, such as 3-mercpto-3-methyl-1-butanol, a cat-specific VOCs. However, little is known about how whole volatile profiles of their sprayed urine change over time or how the profiles differ among individuals. This study investigated temporal changes and individual differences of volatile profiles produced by whole VOCs in cat urine, and the ability of cats to discriminate between these scent differences. Volatile profiles of fresh and aged cat urine were analyzed by using two-dimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with a VOC preconcentrator comprehensively. Volatile profiles produced by hundreds of VOCs emitted from cat urine were influenced primarily by the age of the urine, and secondarily by individuality. During habituation-dishabituation tests, subjects discriminated between fresh and 24 h-old samples of same individuals, and between odor of different individuals from 0 h-, 3 h-old, and 24 h-old samples. These results strongly suggest that cats can recognize conspecific individuals via olfaction. Since most VOCs varied among individuals but were not stable over time, their urine may contain unknown VOCs that vary among individuals, are stable over time, and act as individual recognition signals.