A cat needs to feel in total control of its territory. Let’s take a closer look to understand it a little better. First and foremost, a predator needs the strategic value of a hunting territory to survive, and we cannot expect to smother or stifle the inner voice of our pet, which has developed, consolidated and strengthened throughout its evolution.
A cat is a hunter, just like its larger relatives living in the African savannah, Asian jungle or American prairy. This need to hunt becomes even more urgent for male cats. Choosing of a mate is a complicated process and one of the factors influencing how a female grants her favour concerns precisely the ability of the male to ensure their offspring a territory safe from enemy invasion and abundant in game.
A gate, wall, or fence do not mark the perimeter of a territory for a cat. In other words, such elements in no way reassure a cat that no other cat will invade its territory by climbing or jumping over such ‘intangible’ obstacles.
Territorial anxiety: when the cat feels threatened
Trouble defending its territory, or the repeated invasion of its living space by other cats, creates a state of anxiety in the cat that manifests itself in various ways: excessive marking, soiling outside the litter box, irritability, replacement behaviour such as excessive licking or digestion disorders.
These symptoms can have several causes and it is natural to ask ourselves whether there might be some issue connected to territorial anxiety, i.e. whether the cat might feel its living space threatened, and whether this might be the source of the problem.
Sometimes all that is needed is to close a point of entry – a window or the cat flap – or darken a window, to see the symptom miraculously disappear. Once again master of its own world, our cat has the right conditions to return to its good behaviour and habits.