Since cats check every inch of their surroundings, you might wonder whether cats are territorial.
You might have seen a cat entering a new room, to check every inch of it. Or you go into the bathroom, to be followed by your cat who wants to inspect every corner of the room before leaving it again (with the door wide open!). Outdoor cats also stroll through a set amount of ground and possibly mark their territory using their urine, just like any dog would do.
Cats Are Territorial
Cats are highly territorial animals. They have this instinctual from the original wild cats from the jungle and wild lands. They have a home base where they sleep and eat and a home range where they hunt for prey.
The size of the home range depends on food availability. If there is a lot of food available, the home range is smaller in size than when food is difficult to come by.
Cat Territory Definition
Cat territory is not per se a whole area of square meters, but rather a linked network of paths. All of these paths are being patrolled several times a day. The markings left behind by the different cats are being read like a newspaper, just like dogs do when you go for a walk with them.
Territorial Marking Methods
Cats use a number of different methods to mark territory to be theirs:
- Pheromones through urine and feces
- Pheromones through pheromone glands
Cats have special pheromone gland on several places on their body that will let out a chemical that can be read by other cats like a newspaper. There are different types of pheromones with different created effects.
These pheromone glands might create the chemical and release it via the urine and feces, but there are also glands located under their claws and right on their chin. This is why cats like to scratch things or rub their chin into your body and into objects. They simply mark themselves onto objects within their territory.
Do Cats Actively Defend Their Territory?
When cats do cross each others borders and they find out about it, it can result into a fight or a chase off their property. Remarkably however, cats to try to avoid contact at all cost. They do not feel like having a lot of fights and instead rather avoid this if possible.
If multiple cats exist in the same territory, than they prefer to time-share the area instead. This means that Cat nr 1 can have the backyard space between 9am and 2pm and cat nr 2 will have it in the afternoon after 2pm. In some cases it can also mean that they can be together in one place without a fight at one time, while the next time they cannot.
What About Indoor Cats?
Indoor cats also do have territory. Each change of territory or their surroundings is to be inspected and researched. You have to see them as a map operator, wanting to keep their maps up-to-date. Every little change needs to be added to their map.
So moving a sofa or a cupboard around will cause some stress and chaos to your indoor cat, because their maps need to be updated again.
By the way, there is a product that spreads a special pheromone into your house / room that will make your stressed out cat relaxed again.
They prefer you to keep all the doors open, such as to the bedroom and the bathroom or the extra sleeping rooms, simply because they want to have access to their entire territory at any time.
Another way to look for the indoor cat behaviour is by looking at whom is laying where on which time of the day. This is of course not the case with a one-cat household. Multiple-cat households need to work well together to maintain a peaceful life within the same house.
Indoor cats will most likely time manage every spot in the house where they can lie down. Cat 1 can lay there from morning until the afternoon, while the other can be there afterwards in the afternoon.
Now we have learned a lot about cats and their territory. What is your experience with cat territory? Please leave a comment in the comments below.