Female cats will mark their territory, usually by urinating or spraying the area. However, this is a behavior that is more frequently observed in male cats. This can be for a variety of reasons in including having to share a home, not being neutered, and simply being very territorial.
There is a common belief among cat owners that males are the only ones that will display problems with spraying and marking their territory but many girl cat owners are reporting issues with their cat marking her territory.
In this article, we will look at whether female cats spray as frequently as their male counterparts and why your kitty may be doing this.
Do Female Cats Mark Their Territory?
Before we look at how and why female cats mark their territory, it is important to understand the difference between urinating in an inappropriate place and spraying.
There are times that you puss might pee in places that she isn’t meant to, for example, on your bedding, the carpet, and other such places – anywhere apart from outside or in her litter tray. You will notice a clear difference since peeing in this way will form a puddle of urine on the affected area.
This behavior is not conducive to marking territory and can often have a more concerning reason – your cat may be anxious or there could be a health problem. If you do notice that your feline friend has been behaving in this way, it may be time to have her checked over by the vet.
Spraying is a cat’s way of saying ‘this is my place, move along!’ They do this by literally spraying urine on the desired area. More often than not, your pet will spray their urine against a vertical surface such as a door or a wall. The pee of each cat contains its own unique scent and this can be used to deter other cats from entering their territory.
Female cats do spray but it is not as common for them as it is for male cats. One of the main reasons that male cats exhibit this type of behavior is to let females know that he is available for mating, and in this instance, it is evident that a lady cat would not need to do this. But some female cats may use spraying as a way of communicating her needs with her owner and other cats.
Signs Of Marking Her Territory
As we have discussed, marking her territory with urine and having problems in using her litter tray are two separate matters. If you haven’t physically seen your cat urinating, and have come home to the stench of pee, it can be difficult to know whether she has had an accident or has deliberately marked her territory.
However, short of installing a home security system to keep tabs on your tabby, there are other ways in which you can determine if your feminine feline has been spraying.
- There will likely still be litter box use. Cat’s who are marking territory do not have an incontinence problem and so when they need to pee to relieve themselves, they will continue to use their litter trays.
- When a cat is spraying to mark her territory, she will do so on a vertical surface as opposed to the horizontal surfaces she will use when she simply needs to go. If you catch your cat in the act, you will notice that she will have her tail in the air and will have backed up to the surface she is marking. You may also see your cat twitching while she makes the deposit.
- If your female cat is marking, the volume of the pee will usually be far less than when she actually needs to use the litter box.
- Urine is a smell that is easily recognizable and notoriously difficult to get rid of. However, the smell that we associate with an over-full litter tray or an accident is nowhere near as pungent as the smell that cats leave when they spray. Since your puss will use her pee to communicate with other cats, it needs to have a great deal of her own scent in it. For this reason, the urine that cats use to mark their territory will contain a greater amount of additional chemicals compared to regular pee. These send crucial messages to other cats but can be extremely offensive to humans. If the smell that greets you is somewhat overpowering, it could be a sign that your pet is marking.
Why Do Female Cats Mark Their Territory?
It is easy to understand why males might mark their territory and most of this is related to finding a mate and keeping other males at arm’s length – you might compare it to a human man wearing a nice aftershave to make him more appealing on a date.
But when it comes to female cats, spraying to mark her territory maybe a little more complex. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that a female kitty may behave in this way.
She Is Especially Territorial
Cats are territorial animals by nature. This is evident even in large wild cats – take lions for example, when a pride finds a home, no other lions are welcome to share, and this behavior is also exhibited in their smaller, domesticated cousins.
Remember that cats were not originally domestic animals and in the wild, claiming their own space can mean the difference between survival and their demise. This behavior is impossible to wipe out and will always be a potential problem for cat owners but it is important to remember that whilst, it can be frustrating, your cat isn’t doing this to annoy you.
Some cats are more territorial than others and regardless of their gender, this can mean that even seeing another puss can cause them to feel the need to mark their territory. If you live in an area where there are a lot of cats, this could pose a particular problem.
You Have More Than One Cat
There’s no denying that having multiple cats brings feline lovers a lot of enjoyment, however, owing to their natural territorial behavior, this can mean that having more than one cat in the home will result in spraying.
The more cats you have in the house, the more likely it is that one of them will display this type of behavior. Even though your cats may all get along, they will still feel the need to segregate certain areas of the home as their own and the only way they can do this is by leaving their scent on it.
There Has Been A Change
You may have noticed that your cat likes things a certain way – much like many humans, cats enjoy routine and reliability. When their world is turned upside down, this can cause them to react in ways that are not desirable – including leaving her scent around the home.
What can seem like an insignificant change to us could be earth-shattering for your pet. It may be surprising to learn that something as small as you coming home from work at a different time could trigger intense emotions for your kitty and this could bring on a bout of spraying.
Whilst larger changes such as moving house, having a baby, or bringing a new pet into the home can call have an impact on your pet, some of the following, smaller changes might also be problematic:
- Work on the home – building an extension, replacing a kitchen or bathroom, etc.
- Moving furniture around the home – something as seemingly harmless as moving her favorite chair into another room could cause a reaction.
- A change to her daily routine – moved meal times, for example.
She Is Anxious
Cats experience many of the same emotions and feelings as humans but unlike us, are unable to communicate these, sometimes overwhelming feelings. If your cat is feeling anxious, there is a good chance that she may use spraying as a way of relieving this emotion.
It is widely accepted that spraying can allow a cat to feel more relaxed and calm. There are several things that could make your cat’s anxiety levels increase, including visits to the vet, new additions to the home, having to stay with someone while you are away and vaccinations, among other things.
However, in some cases, anxiety may be related to your cat being unwell. If she is experiencing pain or other unpleasant symptoms, this can understandably make her feel concerned and anxious.
If your cat has started spraying seemingly out of nowhere and she is displaying other signs of intense anxiety, it is a good idea to take her to see the vet who will be able to diagnose any underlying health problems.
Conflict between Cats
Much like their humans, cats can often have run-ins with other felines – if you have a lot of experience with cats, you will likely be familiar with this. Although it is usually males that will scrap with other cats, females are not exempt from aggressive behavior and getting into fights.
If your furry friend has gotten into a sticky situation with one of the other neighborhood cats, she may use spraying for two reasons. Primarily, marking her territory will be a priority as she attempts to deter her rival, but in addition to this, she may also use this as a way of calming herself. This is especially true if you try to stop the cat from confronting their enemy.
Whilst you may believe that you are protected your puss, she will need to face the issue in order to remain stress-free.
Do Cats Mark In Other Ways?
Whilst spraying is quite a common way for your cat to mark her territory, it may interest you to learn that there are other methods that your moggy will use to let other cats know that this is her space.
- Quite frequently, cats will rub their cheeks along surfaces – if you’re a proud puss parent, you’ll likely have seen her doing this on furniture and other surfaces around the home. The cat’s cheeks contain scent glands which contain similar, but less stinky pheromones as her pee. This is known as bunting.
- Felines also mark their territory using visual clues that another cat is present. The most common way of doing this is by rubbing her paws along the desired surface. This area of her body also has scent glands that can emit pheromones and the marks left by her claws provide the visual clue.
Cats are naturally territorial animals, and as such, they are known to mark their territory in a variety of ways. One of the most frustrating methods, for us humans, at least, is through spraying. This process of covering a surface with a coating of pee that contains your pet’s unique smell is a great way to let other cats know who is boss.
This behavior is more frequently associated with male cats but owners of female kitties aren’t safe from the spray. Whilst it is less common for a female cat to display this type of behavior, it certainly isn’t impossible.
For male cats, spraying is, more often than not, related to mating but with female cats, the reasons can be a lot more complicated. Your kitty may spray because she is anxious or because she is competing with other cats in the home. Additionally, she may begin marking her territory because she is finding it hard to cope with a change.
Determining the reason for this behavior is important to ensure that it isn’t related to a health condition, and a visit to your vet is the best way to do this. However, when discussing this issue, it is important to remember that marking her territory by spraying and accidental urination are two different issues and should be treated as such.