11. Communication: domestic cat
Domestic cats need to be able to use scent to communicate
Domestic cats still have limited visual social signals and facial expressions so can be difficult to 'read'. Just like the African wildcat, scent communication is still an important way of relaying information to both themselves and other cats.
Domestic cats often rub facial pheromones around the house or core territory to indicate a familiar ‘safe zone’ and spray or scratch at the edges of their territory.
Did you know scratching is a natural behaviour? The ideal scratch post would be sturdy enough so they can lean against it, tall enough so they can scratch and stretch onto their tiptoes and be made of a material with a vertical thread.
They may spray indoors if they feel they need to indicate an area of caution. This behaviour can be seen in any cat – male, female, entire or neutered. Cats that live in the same social group, will maintain their bond by keeping a common ‘scent profile’ through frequent rubbing sessions. Household cleaning and new scents bought into a cat’s home, such as shopping or new furniture, can be confusing and may cause anxiety.
African wildcats rarely communicate vocally, but many domestic cats quickly learn that meows, trills and chirrups elicit positive responses from their owner - usually in the form of feeding or attention - so this encourages them to use verbal communication on a more regular basis!
Why do cats rub their face on items and people?
Facial marking pheromones offer reassurance. Cats feel safe and secure when they smell their own rub scent.
If you can see this text, your browser does not support iframes. View the content of this inline frame within your browser.This video shows a cat spraying at the edge of its territory to relay information to other cats (this video has not been created by Cats Protection, you may wish to mute the sound)
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Video: Cat communication! (This video has not been created by Cats Protection)
The Cats Protection scratchingEssential guide: Managing your cat’s behaviour
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