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Published: Dec 05, 2011

Cats can be very territorial creatures, becoming possessive of their owners, their pet supplies and their home. In many cases, cats warn other animals to stay off their property by marking or spraying a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Aside from marking with urine, cats also tend to mark their home or favorite spots by rubbing areas with their feet, cheeks, face or tail, as these body parts all have glands that leave behind their scent. These odors will remain in place long after the cat leaves, letting all other felines know this area has been claimed by another cat in the household.

VCA reports that cats also tend to spray or mark when they feel threatened or stressed. This may occur if changes are made in the home, such as moving or bringing a new pet or baby into its environment. Sometimes indoor cats will feel threatened by outdoor cats or dog who approach the windows. Many times there is stress between cats in a household. It is not always readily apparent to the humans in the household but certain stressors include competition for food or water bowls, competition for perching places or toys, and occasionally one cat may bother another cat while they are in the litterbox. The list is endless but veterinarians can often help identify certain stressors in a household.

If marking is an issue, owners should bring the cat into a veterinarian health clinic. A vet will need a detailed history of the individual cat, the household, any changes in the environment and other circumstances that may be causing the problem. Neutering or spaying can greatly reduce marking and a vet is likely to recommend this procedure if appropriate. The solution may be as easy as keeping an indoor cat away from the windows to avoid interaction with an outdoor cat or animal who is bothering it. However, usually several strategies are required. Litterbox management—such as cleaning the box more frequently and adding extra boxes to the household—often helps with marking. In homes with multiple cats, adding extra toys, scratching posts, perching places and other resources will often help lessen the marking problem.