Cats with territorial behaviour
Over the years I have definitely noticed and realised that cats have a hierarchy system which has to be in place for a well balance both in their colonies or domestic environment. How I’ve realised this is because in both adventures I’ve had with cats (first Sasha and Dizi then Travis, Sancho and Scotch). Cats are territorial creatures, this we know, but how do you know that some of the unwanted behaviour is just purely acting out against the dominant cat/s? Here are some things to look out for in cats with territorial behaviour.
This is something I’ve experienced a lot! Firstly, when Sasha and Dizi were around, because they were outdoor cats we had some unwanted situations where other cats would come into our home and mark on curtains etc. This was terrible because it was not something I could control. Yes, I very well could have changed their living situation to strictly indoors, but at the time it just seems impractical. Then, when we lost Sasha and then Dizi, and when we got Travis I decided then and there that he was never going to know the outdoors. So we kept him inside. This was not only for the fear of what I experienced with Sasha and Dizi’s passing, but also because I remembered so clearly the issues I faced with other cats marking in our home. This just seemed to be the best option for all involved. So that was that – Travis was and is a strictly indoor cat. But, the marking did not stop there. Travis, being a very insecure and tense cat starting marking on our bed. Yes, our bed! At first I had no idea what this behaviour was until one day, we had friends over for a braai, and they had a 5-month old baby. The baby was put down to sleep in our bedroom. The minute our friends left and we let the cats out of the “safe room”, Travis immediately went into our room and marked on the bed. I then realised that the moment there was a strange scent, or anything strange he would mark.
This was not the last time he did this unfortunately and we have had to revert to actually locking them out of our bedroom when we are not around. Even when we are home on weekends all day, I still feel better just keeping my door shut. Especially since we got Scotch I was not sure if Travis would have an episode again.
So, in a nut shell, marking is a clear sign that your cat is insecure about something, and wants to mark his territory. But, please remember that this could also point to more serious health issues like bladder infections etc. Always get your cat checked out by your vet the moment he starts doing something out of the ordinary.
Sterilized cats urge to mate
You could say this blog is just about Travis, because, to be honest, he is the only one of my cats that has displayed all of these issues that I am listing (hence why I’m writing about it I suppose). So the one night we are laying on the couch watching a movie, all of a sudden I hear a growling sound to the immediate left of me, I see Travis biting Sancho on the neck and on top of him in the mating position. I was shocked! Firstly, they are both male – secondly because they are both sterilized. True to my form I immediately picked up my phone and Googled this behaviour. Territorial behaviour! I read further and it turns out that it is quite common for a neutered male to want to “hump” a female or male cat to show dominance. This shocked me because in my home I know for sure that Sancho is the dominant male. But, I think I am second guessing this now. I really am not sure what is going on with Travis, but I know this, he has a very insecure personality. He was very feral when I brought him home and I believe this magnifies some of the behaviour a somewhat confident cat would display.
Once again, any strange behaviour that your cat is displaying should be discussed with your vet to rule out any potential health issues. But, cats are territorial, they display strange signs of this at some point or another.
Even though some behaviour is unwanted and we tend to scold our kitties for this behaviour I must urge you to never scold a cat that is showing territorial behaviour. Reason being is that this could just make it worse, and to your cat this is normal. This is how they live, this is their instinct, so if you scold them it just means that they might try again until everyone is on the same page. Remember they don’t see you as a human – you are a part of their colony. The best way to control these types of issues like marking, scratching etc is to just manage it.
In my case with the marking, I just keep them out of our bedroom. I know Travis does this so I monitor him when I’m around and the door is open. Same applies with the urge to mate with Sancho. When I see him do it, I say his name – never in a scolding manner – but I leave them to sort it out as well. Travis and Sancho have a very finicky relationship and I’ve always known this. I watch them closely but I believe that they have to sort it out amongst themselves.
I have heard it so many times in my life – “My cat does not get along with my new puppy, looking for a good home for it”, or, “My husband is allergic to my cat… looking for a good home”. This just breaks my heart to be honest. A cat comes with so many responsibilities and is a lifelong commitment. The moment you feel the need to get a cat you need to consider everything that could come your way with this little feline. Don’t let it be an impromptu decision, it is one that should not come lightly, because at the end of the day, if it turns out to not suit your way of life, you will be to blame, but the cat is the one who suffers.
When you have a kitty and you’ve spent time with him, you get to know his personality and behaviours which coincide. You tend to know when he is upset, happy, agitated. You understand his meows and all the small sounds that come out of his little mouth. You understand his purrs and the way he looks at you. You understand him. Or so you think! Cats are complex creatures, and every cat has a personality of their own, and their environment creates certain behaviours which can get influenced by the smallest changes. Over the past 10 years, I have had 5 cats, all of which have had very different personalities. But, one thing I have noticed with all of them is that they all carry one very certain type of characteristic within their individuality. Either confidence, lack thereof or just quite happy as it is, whatever “it” is.