Exploratory & Marking Behavior

Written by Sena

Exploratory behavior

The exploratory behavior is relatively developed in the cat. The territory occupied by a cat depends on several factors. Male cats occupy a larger area than females, whether they are feral cats or cats living in a confined space. Sterilization and the overall distribution of resources also reduce the size of the occupied territory.

Marking behavior

Belonging to a solitary species, the cat multiplies the means of communication sustainable over time, to mark its territory and avoid confrontation with its congeners. Cats use visual, tactile, olfactory and auditory communication at the same time. The posture, the position of the ears, the head and the tail, the search for the gaze of the other are all visual cues that the cat has when meeting with a congener.

Urine marking

Urine marking is normal behavior – although not appreciated by cat owners, mostly presented by non-sterile male cats during the breeding season. When marking, the cat takes a different position when urinating. He stands upright, his tail raised and very straight, and projects urine most often towards a vertical surface, in small quantities. These urine are not covered.

This behavior can also occur spontaneously in sterilized males, or in estrus females where it plays an important signaling role. Regardless of reproduction, the frequency of urinary marking is increased in multi-cat foci.

The role of urinary marking is not yet fully elucidated, the urine can inform the passage of a cat, its sexual and emotional status. The urine most sniffed by congeners is the most recent.

claw marks

Organizing its home range in territorial fields (zone of activities, isolation, aggression), some areas being “private” other communes, the cat is inclined to mark the paths leading from one to another. Clawing is an innate behavior. They are a means of indicating its presence, they are more readily realized on a material on which they will be visible. Generally, cats prefer vertical supports.

The preferred targets of the cat are the trees, the feet of chairs, the armchairs, the wall coverings, and claws cleverly placed. This marking behavior is also exacerbated when several cats are present in the house.

Glands being present at the level of the cat’s fingers, the presence of an olfactory message had been evoked. However, the claws are not sniffed by other cats: the message is therefore essentially visual.

Deposit of pheromones

The cat has three main types of glands in the production of pheromones:

  • the perioral glands, located on the chin and the corner of the lips, intervening during the marking of the environment by rubbing the head,
  • the temporal glands, located between the ear and the cheek, mainly used when rubbing against congeners or against the owner
  • caudal glands, located at the base of the tail, and playing a prominent role in sexual interactions.

The cat can mark its environment by depositing pheromones in turn using these three sites. A cat with access to the outside would express more this marking behavior, either against the furniture or against the legs of its owners.

In cat colonies, it has been suggested that mixing these frictionally deposited pheromones may contribute to creating a group odor.

Finally, it should be noted that the cat does not just emit pheromones, it also exhibits flehmen behavior, a characteristic attitude during which it uses its vomeronasal organ located at the palate to perceive pheromones.

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