This Is Why Your Cat Marks Everything

A cat marks everything if they are:

  • Stressed due to changes in the house
  • Feeling threatened due to conflicts between cats
  • Sick
  • Bored

Unneutered male cats urine mark more often to advertise their sexual availability.

Cheek rubbing is a calm form of marking, while urine marking is a reactive or anxious marking.  

Cats mark their territory through spraying, which is the deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical spaces.

They also mark through cheek rubbing and scratching.

Although this behavior is normal in cats, it can be annoying when your cat marks everything in sight.  

This article will tell you why your cat marks everything. Keep reading to know how to stop the behavior.

I will talk about all three forms of marking, although urine marking is the most troublesome one.


Cats Mark to Signal Ownership

Cats mark with scent glands on their feet, cheeks, and face, as well as their urine. By depositing an odor, the cat communicates to other animals that it was there long after it has gone.

In a multi-cat household, a cat might mark to show other cats they own the territory.

Since marking is a method of defining territory, you will find urine in prominent locations, entryways, and exit points such as doors and windows.

When outdoors, a cat might mark around the boundary of their property or on prominent objects within the compound.

This could be a new tree introduced or around areas other cats have marked. Urine marking is not the only type of marking.

Cheek rubbing and scratching are also forms of marking.


Stressed Cats Mark Everything

Certain things can stress a cat and compel them to mark everything. These are:

  • Changes in the household routine
  • Presence of a new baby or pet
  • Another cat bullying them
  • Moving homes

In the above circumstances, your cat can feel threatened and mark objects in the house or yard.

They may also mark the possessions of family members with which there is the greatest source of conflict.

For instance, if your cat feels stressed because you spend so much time with a new baby or pet, they mark your personal belongings.

They may rub their face against your items or spray them. Your cat may choose your clothing or any favorite possession.

Their scent on your possessions brings them a measure of comfort.

To cats, marking helps keep unwanted individuals away. It creates an atmosphere of familiarity that makes them feel more secure.


Unneutered Male Cats Mark More Often

Although female cats can urine mark, unneutered male cats have more reason to do so. One function of spraying is to advertise reproductive availability.

Unneutered males may urine mark everything to let females know they are available.

Male cats tend to rub their faces on things more than females. This could be because they are marking territory.

Rubbing also helps male cats assess the presence of other males. In the wild, rubbing could be useful to a male cat who wants to avoid fighting with other males.

As he rubs on an area, he picks up the scent left to determine how long ago another male was in the area.


Changes in the Household Contribute to Marking

Cats don’t like change. When there are changes in daily routine or furniture arrangement, your cat becomes stressed.

Urine marking can be triggered by someone moving in, moving out, remodeling the kitchen, having a baby, and even buying groceries in an unusually large bag.

The arrival of a new pet dog or cat can also cause anxiety in your cat. Changing your work hours can also stress your cat.

One way cats deal with stress is by trying to mark their territory. Your cat marks when they see the above changes to preempt a problem by leaving a message that this place is theirs.

Marking is a way your cat comforts itself with its own familiar scent.


Conflict Between Cats Results in More Marking

This can be a conflict between cats in the same house, or between your cat and other cats they see outside.

Cat-to-cat conflict is the most common reason for urine marking. Your cat does not get angry because another cat has come into their territory.

Rather, your cat is upset because it lacks the social skills to deal with the intrusion. If your cat has to meet with the other cat, they become increasingly anxious and mark often. 


Peeing Everywhere Is a Sign of Medical Problem

It could be that your cat pees in the wrong places, not because they are marking territory, but because of a medical condition.

Kidney problems and arthritis can result in great discomfort for your cat. They cannot use their litterbox and therefore pee everywhere.

This could be why your cat urinates outside their litterbox.


Marking Sends a Message to Other Cats

Cats have numerous ways to send a message to each other, and one way is through urine marking.

Through urine marking, a cat sends these messages to other cats:

  • Announces their presence in a certain location
  • Makes a statement about what property is theirs
  • Shows how long ago they were in the area
  • Tells when other cats can expect them to return

Cats can even advertise when they are looking for a mate. All this information is available in the urine.


How to Stop a Cat From Urine Marking Everything

Spraying (urine marking) is an unpleasant behavior that can cause pervasive odor in your home.

It can also damage your furniture and walls. Here are some effective solutions:


1. Rule Out Any Medical Problem

The first step in fixing any elimination problem is to find out if your cat has a medical problem.

Physical problems can create increased anxiety in a cat, which can contribute to marking.

Talk to your vet to determine if your cat has a medical condition that makes them spray urine so often.


2. Determine Which Cat Is Marking

If you have multiple cats, it can be hard to know which cat is marking. You can talk to your vet about giving fluorescein stains to one of your cats.

It is a harmless dye that you give your cat by way of small digestible paper inside of a gelatin capsule.

Fluorescein stain causes urine to glow blue under ultraviolet light. Give one cat the capsule, and monitor their urine for 24-48 hours.

If your test with the first cat yields no results, give a different cat the dye capsule. Repeat this with all the cats you have until you identify the source of the urine.

The urine of the cat that eats the capsule will be bright yellow or apple green.

By observing the color of the inappropriate urine, you will tell which cat marked the area.


3. Provide Enough Litterboxes

If you have multiple cats and there are not enough litterboxes for each of them, conflict will arise. This can lead to increased marking.

The ASPCA recommends having one box for each cat plus one extra. For example, if you have three cats, you will need four litter boxes.

Place the additional box in locations where the cat with a marking problem spends the majority of its time.


4. Place Litter Boxes in Low-Traffic Areas

The object of doing this is to avoid conflicts in a multi-cat household. There should be minimal chances of two cats meeting at the litterbox.

Otherwise, the cat that feels stressed or threatened will mark more. Cats can mark in response to dogs as well as other cats.

So, keep your cats’ litterboxes away from the dog’s food and water bowls.


5. Provide Multiple Perching Areas

Cats need their own space. Reduce conflict in a multi-cat household by providing more perching areas.

This ensures all cats can rest well away from others. Purchase multiple cat trees, climbing posts, and window perches.

It can also be as simple as clearing window sills or shelves. Your cat may find relief while staying in a high place because it:

  • Allows them to keep an eye on the environment
  • Offers protection from other cats, pets, and young children
  • Gives them some private, calm space in a busy environment
  • Helps them avoid confrontation with other cats in the home

Retreating to an elevated area reduces marking caused by an anxious cat in a multi-cat household.


6. Play With Your Cats

Increased play with all your cats in different parts of the house can reduce conflict, which in turn reduces urine marking.

Encourage play with toys that dangle on strings suspended from sticks. Play puts your cats in a relaxed mood.


7. Neuter Your Cat

While desexed cats can still spray, getting your cat neutered can help curb this behavior.

Neutering reduces their hormone level, which is likely to diminish their urge to spray.

As mentioned earlier, male cats urine mark more because they are advertising their availability to females.


8. Find the Source of the Stress

If your cat is spraying because they are anxious or stressed, find the root cause of the problem.

It could be a stray cat lurking outside that is threatening your cat’s territory. Or, your cat might feel anxious because of the arrival of a baby in the house.


9. Avoid Sudden Changes in the House

Sudden changes make cats feel anxious and mark more often. As you rearrange your living area, think about how this will impact your cat.


10. Use a Calming Diffuser

There are some products designed to calm cats and reduce their stress levels. A calming diffuser, spray, or supplement can calm them down.

These products have a soothing effect on a cat. When your cat is less stressed, they are likely to spray less.


Marking Is Different From Urination

An issue with the litterbox can force your cat to do its business elsewhere. However, urine marking does not necessarily mean there is something wrong with the litterbox.

Here is how marking is different from urinating:

  • A cat spraying has their tail straight up in the air, projecting their rear towards the target.
  • The tail shakes or quivers.
  • A cat that urine marks still uses the litterbox regularly.
  • Cats rarely mark with stool.
  • A cat that’s spraying will leave its urine on a vertical surface, like a wall.

Once you are sure your cat is marking and you are not dealing with a medical or litterbox issue, you can find practical ways to deal with the situation.  


Cheek Rubbing Is a Subtle Form of Marking

Cats that mark an area with their cheek glands are less likely to mark in other ways, such as urine marking.

Cats that use cheek rubbing as a form of marking do so in a calm, familiar manner.

A cat that marks with their urine is doing so in a more reactive and anxious manner.

Here is why your cat rubs its face on everything as a form of marking:


1. They Are Leaving Scent Marks

Cats have multiple scent glands on their face and head. Your cat rubs its face on objects to leave their scent marks.

A cat rubbing its head on an object is called bunting. The object’s height determines which part of the head a cat will use to leave a scent mark.

They use their forehead and ears to rub on the highest objects. They mark head-height objects with a swipe from the corner of the mouth up to the ear.

Cats often choose conspicuous objects such as a coffee table, sofa, or the corner of a wall.

If you own multiple cats, you might see them rubbing their faces on each other. This is to share scents and create a communal scent.


2. Head Bunting Is a Form of Social Bonding

When cats head bunt on each other, this is often a form of social bonding. Cats who are friendly and familiar with each other will head bunt.

It is initiated by the more dominant cat as a way to make all the cats in a colony smell the same.

A cat that rubs its body and tail around your ankles pays you a huge compliment in terms of trust. Your cat views you as important and is saying you are part of its tribe.

When your cat puts its face up close against yours, it’s a great bonding experience. Count yourself lucky because trust and friendship are not something cats give away easily.


3. Rubbing Heads Is a Show of Affection

Cats release friendly pheromones on their cheeks and chin. When your furry friend rubs its face against you, they mark you as a friend.

It’s an affectionate gesture and cats also use it as a greeting. Perhaps you have noticed your cat likes to rub its face on your feet when you arrive home from work.

Mother cat teaches her kittens head rubbing is a form of affection. So, when they find a human they like, they rub their heads on them.

Reinforce the head rubbing or bunting behavior by stroking your cat’s head in response. It’s something most of them enjoy.


4. They Are Looking for Information

We cannot assume that each time your cat rubs its face against you, they are being friendly.

Sometimes your cat might be looking for a little information. According to Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, an animal behavior expert, cats are olfactory creatures.

They rely heavily on their sense of smell to give them information about their surroundings.

A friendly cat may approach a stranger and rub themselves against the person to find out where they are coming from or if they have pets of their own.


Marking Through Scratching

Cats mostly scratch to mark territory. If your cat is overdoing it, here are reasons why:


1. Your Cat Lacks an Outlet for Scratching

Cats need outlets for scratching and marking. They also need regular social and object play, and exercise.

If your cat spends a lot of time with no outlet to fulfill their scratching needs, they are compelled to scratch almost everything in sight.

You can encourage more social activity and play. Following this routine can help deter scratching.

Provide them with multiple scratching posts.


2. Conflict Increases Chances of Scratching

Just like other forms of marking (urine, bunting), situations of anxiety or conflict make some cats increase their territorial marking.

Decreasing the source of your cat’s anxiety may decrease the scratching.


3. Cats Scratch Unmarked Territory

If your cat is marking only new objects or furniture, it could be they are simply marking unmarked territory.

This behavior usually passes when they develop a sense of ownership of the new objects.

Resident cats also re-mark territory if someone new or a pet moves into the house.


4. Your Cat Is Bored

Excessive scratching can be a sign of a bored cat. Consider providing entertainment to your cat.

Provide your cat with a more enriched daily routine.

Include multiple daily play sessions. Provide additional play opportunities and new objects to explore and manipulate.

Writer: Flora Ojow

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