Marking is a Form of Cat Communication


Cats are territorial by nature whether they live in the wild or in the comforts of your home. You’ve probably noticed that your cat is very protective of his space and can’t help but feel an instinctive urge to stake his claim. They can do so in different ways.

Types of marking behavior

  1. Scratching is a visual and olfactory marking behavior. When cats scratch they aren’t simply sharpening their claws. Cats have scent glands on the pads of their feet and scratch to mark their territory and leave visible marks on objects.

  2. Rubbing—The cat uses glands on its cheeks and chin to deposit scent onto other individuals in its social group which may include other cats or pets and even you! Cats also deposit their scent onto furniture, walls and other inanimate objects.

  3. Urine spraying—usually the most objectionable form of house soiling, but one that can often be avoided if owners understand the cat’s motivations for marking.

  4. Fecal marking or middening—deposition of feces, usually in strategic and conspicuous open areas within feline territories. Middening is the least common form of feline marking.

Is marking normal, you wonder? Rest assured, YES, it is! Cats are a lot like people. While they can share and cohabitate, they like having their own space, toys, and stuff. However, when they believe that something that’s theirs is being taken over by someone else, they can feel threated. Their natural instinct is to claim it and mark it with urine. Have you ever put your name on your lunch or lunch bag to prevent others from sneaking into the fridge where you work and eating it? Cats essentially are doing the same thing. Marking is like putting their name on things. From that perspective, it may make better sense to us. Not all marking behavior happens because of territorial instinct. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn what other factors play a role in marking behavior in cats. To receive an email when this blog is posted, sign up at the orange button below.








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