As predators, our cats are territorial by nature...
Even though they may be sweet and docile at times, our cats do in fact have a wild side!
Your cat may become territorial at times and depending on your feline will determine how they claim their territory...
Some cats simply rub up against furniture to leave their scent behind to mark territory while others may spray causing a smelly horrible mess.
Below are ways on how to deal with a territorial cat as well as signs to look for and the causes.
Causes of Territorial Behavior in Cats
Intact (not neutered) male cats will fight over territory during mating season, but both male and female cats may defend their turf against a cat who is an interlope. The size of that turf can range from a neighborhood, block, or yard to a home or a single room. Cats who are poorly socialized when young also might display territorial behavior when a new cat enters the household. Even a cat used to others can react to a new housemate.
Small changes that seem innocuous to us can be enough to upset a cat. These can include new smells or sounds, such as during a visit to the vet, or another pet coming home from the groomers. Some cats react to an owner arriving home after a long absence (e.g., vacation, hospitalization) and behaving differently.
Signs of Territorial Behavior in Cats
Territorial behavior can range from largely benign (rubbing their chin on household objects to scent marking) to destructive (clawing furniture) to obnoxious (spraying urine on walls or relieving themselves outside the litter box) to dangerous (clawing, fighting, and biting).
Because cats are particularly sensitive to smells, one that feels insecure or threatened may first use his scent (chin rubbing) or urine to warn other cats. They also might engage in stalking and ambushing while hissing, swatting, growling, biting, and staring.
Dealing with Territorial Behavior in Cats
If your cat is exhibiting territorial behavior, first schedule a vet appointment to make sure your cat doesn’t have a medical issue that could be causing the aggression. If your cat is intact, spaying and neutering will solve much of the problem, the experts agree, as it addresses hormonal triggers.
Other steps you can take to address territorial behavior in cats include:
- Prevent access to the room or area the cat tends to mark
- Provide plenty of approved scratching items
- Keep cats separate, with one roaming the house at a time, if interaction is a trigger.
- Keep your cat indoors, close blinds, or block window views to keep your pet from seeing neighborhood cats roam your yard.
- Use artificial pheromones (which come in plug-in sprayers) to help your cat stay calm.
Preventing Territorial Behavior in Cats
Pet parents who want multiple cats to get two kittens from the same litter or two cats of the same age to reduce the chance of territorial aggression. Once your pet is spayed/neutered and has a clean bill of health, ensure that the living situation allows your cat or cats to have control over the environment. Provide places for them to escape to if they feel insecure or threatened by the noise or activity of the household, the experts advise. This can include vertical perches, quiet rooms where you can close a door, multiple litter boxes, and food and water bowls in several places. Keep cats busy with plenty of toys, affection, and a chance to get outside on a protected patio or safe enclosure.