Cat behaviour

In the wild, this territorial behaviour is important. In times of famine or drought, there is little food to go around and the male stakes out territory to ensure that intruders do not come and raid his particular area of available prey. If he has a female with kittens this is even more important, if the kittens are to survive. It is not unknown for a male cat to attack the young of another cat. This is still true today – a maurauding tom cat can easly kill a defenceless young kitten in your own back garden. Cats like to mark out their territory with chemical messages; these tell any other cat that strays into area to “keep off”. The most common way of marking is by spraying concentrated urine around the boundaries of the territory. To humans, this is one of the most unpleasant smells we know and is usually associated with the entire male; another good reason for neutered cats, will also spray. Cats that have been confined indoors during the cold winter months will probably spray all four corners of the garden when they are allowed out in the spring. Frost will have destroyed any trace of the previous territorial markings, and so the cat has to “beat the bounds” of his territory before another cat lays claim to his patch. As long as this activity is confined to the outdoors, it does not affect us too much it is only when a cat starts to spray inside the house that it becomes socially unacceptable for us, although it makes perfect sense to the cat. It is not common for the well-adjusted, socially integrated and neutered cat to spray indoors, but it can happen. The most common reason for a cat to spray indoors is when another feline is introduced to the household. The resident cat seen it as a threat and will mark out ‘his’ home with his own personal scent. This can ever happen if a piece of secondhand furniture is brought into the hourse that smells of another cat; the resident cat’s instinct is to spray it just to be sure that it is adequately marked as part of his own home. Cats also mark territory and leave chemical messages in other, more acceptable, ways. The cat has glands that secrete scent in several parts of their bodies, particularly around the back of the head. When a cat comes and rubs its head against your leg, it is actually marking you; the message it leaves is for other cats, and translates roughly as “This is my human; keep away”. For the same reason, cats rub against domestic objects such as furniture; they are marking their possessions, but in an inoffensive way. The same behavior can be seen outside in the garden, but takes more the part of a conversation between neighbouring cats as they leave messages for each other in a kind of ‘dead letter box’. Rubbing against walls, trees and fences the cat can let the local feline population know what is going on: ‘Susie’ is on call at the moment or ‘Sam’ has just been neutered… Even when a cat strops a tree to sharpen its claws, it leaves behind a message that comes from glands situated between the paw pads. Male cats prowl, especially at night, calling for a female; the female on call will make make just as much, if not more, noise. It is during these nocturnal forays that a cat is most likely to get into a fight with another, as both are out looking for the same thing – a female to mate. In order to keep peace with the neighbours, and avoid expensive visits to the vet, most owners decide to neuter anu cat that is a family pet and keep it in at night.