Virtually the kings and queens of their households, it comes off as no surprise that cats can be extremely territorial. As these animals generally enjoy roaming around freely, any unfamiliar presence that sets foot inside their boundaries may get them all riled up.
While low-key territorial behaviour may not be a huge problem, once that aggression reaches a breaking point, cat owners may have to step in to deal with the issue. Here are some necessary precautions and tips you’ll need to know!
Signs of territorial aggression
If you’re not sure whether your cat’s behaviour is territorial aggression, here are a few possible telltale signs. However, it is important to keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive:
- Constantly rubbing themselves on furniture and household items. By doing this, your cat is putting their pheromones (a natural scent) on items and claiming it as its own
- Spraying surfaces e.g. urinating on walls to mark their territory
- Flattening their ears while stiffening and straightening legs
- Dilated pupils when staring at their owners or other animals
- Hissing, loud meowing, and violent scratching with claws
- Pouncing on the object(s) of their territorial aggression; e.g. visiting family members or new pets
Causes of territorial aggression
You may have noticed that when you take your cat to a vet, or pet boarding facility, it may behave differently. This is because your cat is much more wary of what’s going on around it, and is anxious about the space that you’ve taken it into.
In the same way, your cat may exhibit the same territorial aggression at home because they feel like their personal space is being threatened. While this threat may be due to a new presence in the house, it can also be due to other factors such as a new sound or smell. Sometimes, something as trivial as a furparent returning home after a long absence is enough to set them off!
Ways to manage territorial aggression
Neuter your cat
Cats, especially males, who haven’t been neutered will act more territorial than other cats who have been neutered. Left unchecked, a male cat may even begin spraying smelly urine onto everything in a bid to mark its territory. Neutering your cat is also a great way to prevent the overpopulation of kittens, and your cat may become calmer in general.
Bring out all sorts of scratching items
Distraction is a powerful tactic — one of the best ways for cats to relieve their stress is through scratching. Provide your kitty with a scratching post or item and let them scratch to their heart’s content! By directing their built-up frustration and anger towards a scratching post — they’ll feel that there is no need to resort to violence to make a point.
Prevent access to a ‘marked’ area
A reactive and aggressive cat should be left on their own — any form of interaction may invite hostility on their end and damage the relationship between both of you. If your feline has locked down a specific area which they have already claimed as theirs, do what you can to prevent access to that area. Take any necessary measures — such as shepherding them into a quiet room and shut the door. Also, make sure to remove items like towels and clothing from the floor, as cats will spray anything that lies on the floor.
Block their view
Similar to fighting fishes, the simple act of blocking your cat’s view from the object of aggression may do wonders. Take note that this is only a temporary solution, and other precautionary measures include closing blinds, keeping your cat indoors, and placing their food and water bowls away from windows and doors.
Make a trip to the vet
More often than not, the above-mentioned solutions are enough to calm your furkid down. However, if their aggression still persists despite the action taken, your vet may need to step in. It is possible that your feline may be experiencing distress, and that its aggressive behaviour is caused by something medically. Therefore, it is important that your cat goes for a complete check-up to make sure that it isn’t suffering from any underlying medical conditions.
As a cat owner, it’s your duty to make sure that your cat feels safe in its space so that it doesn’t become territorial. While some cases are unavoidable — such as the arrival of a new pet, these tips will help you to at least manage your cat’s territorial aggression instead of leaving the situation as is.