Cat Marking Territory
Cat marking territory is one of the most common cat behavior problems. When searching for the cause of a litter box problem, the most basic distinction is between marking and just urinating and defecating outside the box.
Cats are most likely to mark if they live in a multi-cat household, if they can see other cats or other furry animals through the windows, and if they are male—although females may also mark.
There are two kinds of scent markers which are used in cat marking territory behavior:
- Pheromones are the “happy” marker which are used in cat marking territory behavior. Pheromones come from the scent glands on her paws, head and cheeks, and a cat uses them to mark in a positive way.
- These glandular secretions are chemicals that provide unique information about each cat and are part of a complex communication system among cats.
- In the wild, pheromones serve many purposes, such as identifying members of a colony, marking territory, making sexual overtures, seeking information about unknown cats in the vicinity and testing the tendency toward aggression of other cats.
- Urine is the other scent marker which is used in cat marking territory behavior. Cat Spraying urine is a natural behavior for a cat. She does it to mark territory, usually when she feels threatened or stressed.
- No matter how you feel about it, urine marking is not something that we should judge as being “bad.” Cat Spraying is a normal, natural form of communicating for a cat.
- Do not make the mistake of projecting human emotions or motivations onto her; your cat isn’t doing this to be spiteful or get back at you. Spraying is a central part of the social structure cats use to communicate and is a normal feline reaction to specific situations. Unfortunately, it fits in really poorly with sharing a home with humans.
Feces are rarely used in marking, although it isn’t unheard of, and cats will mark territory with feces in the great outdoors. You may notice that some cats cover their poop and others leave it uncovered. When it’s uncovered, it’s a statement that Big Bad Kitty was here.
When urine marking, cats tend to back up to a vertical surface and spray urine at it. The male cat’s penis faces the rear, so this is pretty easy for him to do. If your cat is spraying, you will see urine on the vertical surface as well as on the floor just below the marked spot. (If you can’t see the urine, a black light can help you locate it.) If the cat is just urinating outside the box, you are more likely to find larger puddles on the floor.
Intact males who have reached sexual maturity and females in heat will mark territory. Having your pet spayed or neutered before sexual maturity is the best thing you can do to prevent this.
If you wait until after sexual maturity, the spraying will likely have become a fixed behavior, and it will be more difficult to resolve the issue. Male cats who are not neutered will mark. There’s no avoiding it.
How Scent Marking Is Done
The first thing to understand the cat marking territory is knowing how scent marking is done.
1. Marking with the Friendly Pheromones
A cat uses the glands in her cheeks to mark familiar territory that she considers her world. She rubs against objects in a familiar territory, leaving secretions of the scent glands on her face as a positive “message.” It is a sign that she feels confident and secure.
Depositing pheromones by rubbing her face along cabinets, against doorways, on chair and table legs—even on the people in her life—is a self-reassuring behavior that also has a calming effect on her. Cats have scent glands on their paws, too, which is one of the reasons they scratch.
Reaching up against a tree or other vertical landmark is an effective way to leave a calling card for other cats because it can be done at nose level, along with scratch marks to call attention to it. When you see dogs and cats studying marked areas with their noses, think of it as reading the Post-it Notes left by previous passers-by.
2. Marking with Urine
Cats mark with urine for the opposite reason they mark with facial pheromones. Urine is used because the cat is threatened or stressed, usually in a multi-cat environment. Both males and females spray, generally around issues of territory.
A high-ranking cat will spray in more than one location in the house to show how large her territory is and how important she is; a cat may spray when entering a new territory to announce her arrival and as a warning to others not to mess with her; an outdoor cat will often spray around the entire perimeter of her perceived domain.
How Do Other Cats Get the Message
The 2nd thing to understand the cat marking territory is knowing how do other cats get the message:
- Cats have a highly developed organ in the roof of their mouths called the vomeronasal organ, which allows them to detect social odors and sort them out.
- Sometimes when you watch a cat sniffing an object you can tell that it has been marked by another cat because you will see a sort of smiling or grimacing expression as the cat sniffs.
- This is referred to as the Flehmen reaction—the lips curl back as the cat sucks in air with the scent in it, running it past that special vomeronasal organ.
Why Do Cats Scent Mark ?
The 3rd thing to understand the cat marking territory is knowing why do cats scent mark:
1-Cats will rub their foreheads and cheeks—and their tails, too—on other cats they live with and on their human companions. This is a form of social communication that connects the cats with each other, even though cats are not thought to be social, group-oriented creatures.
2-Females who live in a multi-cat environment often rub each other as a greeting. Subordinate cats rub against the dominant cat in their group. Kittens rub against their mothers, which is a social survival behavior: It marks a kitten as belonging to her mother in case she gets separated, and it serve as reinforcement with a mother who might not be as committed to mothering as she should be.
3-In the wild, the only mutual rubbing that takes place is done by mating pairs of cats and by cubs living in the family group during the first few months. Domestic cats today, by contrast, rub against all of those they live with—cats, dogs, people—to create a group scent that connects them; it may also serve to automatically exclude any creature not wearing the perfume of the day.
4-This is curious, however, since cats are decidedly not group animals by nature and this “group hug” doesn’t really fit with their original instincts—which just goes to show how basic behaviors can evolve as the lifestyle of an animal changes over the years. While we assume that cats rub on familiar cats and on people to put their own odor mark on them, some observers of cats wonder if the reason for rubbing against another cat may be different in some cases.
What if a lower-ranking cat rubs not to anoint a more important cat with her own personal perfume but to receive the other animal’s odor? In a group of cats with a hierarchy, if a lower-ranking cat acquires the odor of the top cat, it sends a message to any other group member that the lowlier cat is part of the in-crowd.
It also is a reminder to the high-ranking cat that this cat may be lower on the social scale but has been “preapproved”—sort of like the stamp people get on their hand at the door once they have gained admission to an event.
Five ways for cat marking territory
1. Rubbing with the head
The cat rubs its cheeks all around my head, face, and the bows of my eyeglasses and purrs for all she is worth. If a cat rubs her own head on you , she is marking and telling you with her own distinct odor and letting different cats understand that you belong to her.
Head rubs are a kind of expressing joy and contentment — This feline expressing means “I adore you, you make me relaxed and happy, and I am glad you are mine”
2. Rubbing with the flanks and butt
The scent glands onto the kitty’s sides and the bottom of her tail are usually neutral in the feelings they communicate.
The rubbing with her flanks and tail is sending message between them as similar to two neighbors with adjoining parking areas:”This area is nearer to my home and this one is nearer to yours so let us agree that this is mine and that one is yours”.
Scratching is a dual goal for the cat marking territory: Your cat renders visual proof a kitty occupies a distance, and her scent glands on your kitty’s paw pads leave a second message cats can not dismiss.
When outside cats scrape items, it leaves post which means ” No Trespassing” signs on your property. Indoor cats scratch, also, even though their scratching is less about warning different cats than engaging natural behavior require to stretch for grooming their claws.
4. Leaving poop uncovered
In case you’ve got a kitty who won’t bury its waste, she is sending message to the world which she’s the dominant cat in the region and no additional felines had greater mess with her.
This special behavior which scientists refer to as” minding ” is that the feline equivalent of utilizing graffiti tags to signify possession of turf. There is a cat in my area that leaves a”gang label” in my garden at minimum one time every week.
The licking is method for cat marking territory once she is licking at you or her cat friends. Your kitty’s saliva conveys its scent, also by licking, by licking, she is marking you, its kitty friend, with its special odor.
Solutions for cat marking territory
1-Neutering usually helps. (Spaying female markers is less likely to help with that problem, but it’s still an excellent idea to spay females.)
2-Cats who live in a multi cat household are more likely to mark because each wants to stake out their territory. (It’s my house, and this mark says so! No, it’s my house!) If stray cats are coming around, your cat will also feel the need to mark. Usually, kitty will mark around windows and doors to try to tell those outside cats to stay away from her territory. When you ask a cat to stop marking, you are asking your cat to stop doing something that comes naturally. This is always difficult to accomplish.
3-If she is spraying because she sees intruders outside the window, blocking off the view is helpful.
4-If the problem is a multi cat household, you may need to partition off the house to keep the cats separated so the two who are instigating marking behavior don’t see each other and so have no need to make a territorial exclamation point.
5-If these measures fail to clear up the problem, then drugs may be helpful. The two most commonly used are buspirone and fluoxetine. Sometimes, using drugs while making environmental changes speeds up the relearning process. Once the behavior has been extinguished, the cat can be weaned off the drugs.
6-Cat-appeasing pheromones like Feliway may also reduce marking. If you’re using the spray, make sure it has dried before the cat returns to the area, though. If it is still damp, it may actually increase marking behavior.
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