Cats rely heavily on scent to mark their territory and consider a human being part of their territory.
Your cat marking you is often considered a sign of affection and trust. As such, a cat will mark you to declare you its person. It will also mark you to alert other felines of its presence. Interestingly, a cat marks its favorite person even though it shows affection to other family members.
This article explains why cats mark people and what marking you can expect with your cat.
Reasons Why a Cat Marks a Person
1. Your Cat Is Claiming You
As earlier mentioned, cats mark their favorite people. They do this by leaving a scent that is detectable by other cats as a way of claiming you.
So, when another cat comes into contact with you, it can smell your feline’s scent on you and knows you are taken.
2. Your Cat Is Preventing Competition
Your cat knows that it has competition for territory with other cats, including competition for its human parent. By nature, cats are very territorial, and they establish their presence in your life as early as possible.
Marking you is your cat’s way of ensuring that it doesn’t get into fights with other cats over you.
You may notice that if you touch another cat, your cat may hiss, scratch, or even bite you when you try to touch it. This aggressiveness is a natural reaction to the unfamiliar scent and perceived competition.
3. Your Cat Is Showing Affiliation
Cats have a reputation for being solitary animals, but that is not really the case. Most cat parents find that cats are social, loving and that is why they attach themselves to their favorite human being.
And by marking their human, they are showing affiliation. That indicates that your cat enjoys being in your company, loves you, and trusts you to keep it safe.
Feral cats that live in a group use similar marking behavior to show affiliation to each other.
The Science Behind Human and Cat Bonds
In 2011 a report by the Smithsonian Magazine featured a study by a group of scientists about the cat and human bond. The scientists who did the study were from Vienna, Austria, and it dug into both the cats’ and humans’ personalities and how they match.
Their findings were that the human-feline bond is complex, much like it is between human beings.
For example, human beings are classified as extroverts or introverts, and the same personality categories apply to cats. Also, cats expect mutual affection and loving, tactile interactions with their human parents, much the same way humans expect of each other.
That explains why cats feel the need to mark their human friends because they form deep, complex, and deeply emotional bonds with us.
The good news is that cats mark their human territory differently from how they mark their terrestrial territory.
On humans, they usually leave their scent and pheromones, while on land, they also urinate or use poop to mark their boundaries.
Can you imagine being urinated on by your cat to mark you as its territory?
Being marked by a cat is not something that happens overnight. Our family cat, Sophia, took a while before she marked my daughter as her favorite person. But with patience, consistent love, and affection, she finally showed us who she loves the most in our household.
Signs That Your Cat Has Marked You
It’s Excited When You Get Home
Observe your cat’s reaction to you when you get home. That will help you determine whether the cat has already marked you or not. If your cat has marked you, it is excited when you walk in through the door.
It greets you at the door with a meow, rubs itself around your feet and ankles, and follows you indoors like it is welcoming you home.
It Likes It When You Pet It
A cat that has marked you knows your touch and trusts you. It knows that you are gentle and friendly in the way you pet it. So, it is not afraid that you will hurt it by aggressively holding it by the scruff of the neck or pulling on its tail.
In fact, your cat will seek your touch by coming to where you are seated and either sitting next to you or on you.
A trusted human knows how to gauge the cat’s emotional state before and during petting.
Sometimes, it is normal for a cat to shun petting even from its favorite person, but it will still remain close. Your cat may not be interested in petting when in pain, but it will want to alert you to its pain by meowing.
In some cases, your cat is just grumpy.
It Grooms You
A cat that has marked you will groom you by licking you, and it may also nibble or suckle on your clothing. Cats in the same litter also lick each other. The licking is a show of trust because cats only groom “family members” that they trust.
So, when your cat gives you its grazing lick, it is basically saying, “I trust you, you are family, and you are mine!”
It Head-Butts You
When your cat head-butts you, it is actually not aggressive behavior, but it is a way of leaving its scent on you.
Cats have scent glands on the forehead, and the glands release pheromones that can only be detected by another cat. Pheromones are chemical messages that felines use to interact with other cats.
So, head-butting you leaves its mark on you, making you its territory.
It Kneads on You
Kneading is a feline behavior where the cat looks like it is pushing its front paws onto your thigh, arm, or any other part of your body.
Cats knead to show their contentment and happiness. And they will only indulge in this behavior when they trust you.
You will notice kittens knead their mothers as they suckle or as they settle into a comfortable napping spot.
As they knead you, the scent glands on the paw pads, similar to those on the forehead, will leave a scent on you.
How Cats Choose Their Favorite Person to Mark
a) From Early Association
When kittens are small, they do not have the sense of fear that adults cats have (from life’s experience, I am sure). So, they interact freely with their human parents or companions and form a deep bond.
When the kitten leaves its mom’s side, it automatically turns to the person it feels most safe and loved by, and that is you.
That makes you your kitten’s favorite person, but only if you have been able to bond closely with your feline friend. You have to put in the time and energy to build the bond with your little furry friend to stand out as its favorite person.
That’s because if your kitten is in a household with a variety of humans who don’t put in this effort, it will grow up to be comfortable around people but remain aloof. After all, it hasn’t bonded with one particular person.
b) From Friendly Interactions
If a cat thoroughly enjoys spending time with you, it may have singled you out as its favorite person because you provide a friendly and loving tactile interaction. That means you are open to head-butting, playing, cat talk, and gentle petting.
Your cat will choose you as its favorite person because you have adapted to its preferred communication style.
It is critical to know that this communication style is not necessarily physical touch. Physical interaction should leave your cat feeling comfortable and safe to just be in the same room as you.
c) When You Meet Its Needs
Cats form a bond with someone who meets their needs. If your cat is hungry, thirsty, or in pain and you alleviate its discomfort, it starts to rely on you, building trust.
Cats recognize acts of kindness, and that is why when you mistreat a cat, it will run away from you or not approach. Eventually, it may completely leave home.
d) From Your Personality
According to a study from Oregon University, cats enjoy human interaction maybe even more than they enjoy food. Your personality attracts your cat to interact with you.
A grumpy person will not attract a feline to come and sit with them, and instead, the cat will stay away for fear of being swatted. But a friendly person who talks to their cat, pets it, and gives it treats will most likely build a deep bond of affection because they have a warm personality.
Your personality can affect the degree of social interaction with your cat.
Care Nicely for Your Cat to Become Their Favorite
If you are an introvert but love cats, perhaps you can try the following tips to help a cat choose you as its favorite person:
- Feed it: Our feline friends respond to being kept safe and nourished. Being the one to provide these two necessities in a cat’s life makes you stand out and win favor.
- Play with it: Most cats love a good playtime session. That is because, during playtime, your cat gets your undivided attention and bonds with you.
Also, exercise releases the mood-boosting serotonin in cats. When your cat feels so happy around you due to the serotonin, it associates its happiness with you.
As a result, it wants to play or hang around you.
- Use positive reinforcement: That means that when your cat does something good, talk to it, give it a gentle pat and a treat. This reinforces the good behavior and makes you and your cat close.
Sometimes you can positively reinforce your cat’s sense of home, safety, and trust by giving it space and allowing it to enjoy its alone time. Giving it attention and also space reinforces a cat’s sense of wellbeing.
Overall, bonding occurs naturally between humans and cats when the former treats the latter well.
Make It Easy for Your Cat to Mark You
Make yourself available to be marked. That means that you make time to play with your furry friend. Playtime is time to bond and make an emotional connection.
Feed your cat on time so that it can have a routine and associate food with you.
Finally, become the trustworthy person that your cat can rely on.
There is something beautiful about the close bond between a cat and its owner. It is something that impacts not only the cat but also the human and the overall home environment. Getting marked by your cat is a privilege that all feline parents aspire to.
Writer: Mercy Nandika Amatieku