Cats and their Territory: How Cats Mark their Boundaries

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Cat dividerCats, like most species (including humans) like to know that they have a “kingdom” that belongs to them. This is based on their basic instinct to have a hunting ground for food.

For domestic indoor cats, this is generally the dimensions of your home. But for outdoor cats, territory is a hotly contested issue. Outdoor cats need other cats in the area to know which turf belongs to them, with male cats generally requiring more turf than females. Neutered cats generally claim less turf than their non-neutered counterparts.

Female cats usually have “neutral” areas in their turf where there is a common understanding that they can meet without conflict.Cats fighting

When a new cat comes into a neighbourhood, it will need to carve out its own turf, and this usually leads to a shift in territorial borders.

Feral cats generally have no respect for these established borders and have been known to chase a domesticated cat back into its home.

As cats grow old, their territory shrinks, and when they die their territory has to be redistributed, sometimes resulting in feline turf wars.

The general belief by experts is that cats mark their territory to avoid meeting up with strange cats, rather than inviting them into their territory and having fur fly.

Cat SprayingCats, especially unneutered males, have various ways of letting other cats know that they are trespassing and the main way they do this is through the spraying of urine in their marked-out territory. The smell alone is usually enough to warn a trespasser that he or she has stepped into another cat’s turf. A cat that marks his territory will generally refresh the area regularly by re-spraying it as he prowls around it.

Cats may also defecate to mark their territory, and often in the case of a feral intruder, the cat may even go and defecate on the resident cat’s territory in an aggressive display.

Another way that cats may mark their territory is by rubbing themselves up against gateposts or trees to leave their scent at key points.Cats on a wall

Cats patrolling an area where mutual boundaries are shared will generally avoid each other, so if you’ve ever seen two cats on either side of a wall or fence growling at each other, they’re probably just pointing out who belongs where without waiting to get into a fight.

Cats also like to have their own watchtowers – on the roof, a wall, a fence or a tree – where they can survey their kingdom and keep guard over it.

-Article posted by Phillipa Mitchell

by Phillipa Mitchell

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