How do cats use space? Part 3: Examine relationships

by Dr Mikel Maria Delgado

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In this third article on how cats use space, we are now going to take a very focused look at not only how you dispose of resources for cats in your home, but also how you dispose of resources for cats. cats in your house. how they get used! This is especially useful for households with multiple cats, but if you only have one kitten you might want to try it out – and let me know if it was helpful!

First, let’s review: we know that cats that live indoors will establish both a core territory and a home range, just like kittens that go outdoors. The Core Territory is an area they will protect, while the Home Range is the space they regularly patrol, investigate, and use. In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of multiple, separate key resources, which allow cats to share space and minimize stress and conflict.

Hopefully you’ve already drawn a map (like I did) with all of your cat resources (food dishes, litter boxes, cat trees, scratching posts, etc.) labeled, like this:

Now take a moment to think about which cat uses which resources. Which resources are shared and which are used exclusively by a single cat? Are some of your “cat things” rarely, if ever, used?

Which spaces are shared over time (e.g. one cat uses it in the morning and another uses it in the afternoon) and which are shared simultaneously (hopefully by cats who love each other!)?

If you have behavioral issues within your household (such as avoiding litter boxes or fighting/conflicting), it may also be helpful to note these on your card. I have three cats and I’ve coded the areas each cat uses as red (cilantro), blue (ruby), or yellow (scribble). When Cilantro and Ruby share a space, the area now appears purple, and if Ruby and Scribbles share a space, it appears green, and if Cilantro and Scribbles share a space, it appears orange.

I also put stars in the areas used by the 3 cats, namely: the four litter boxes, a cat tree in our living room and a cat tree in our office.

What was obvious was that Scribbles has the most “exclusive” territory, and while she shares spaces with Ruby and Coriander, they seem a bit more laid back and likely to share than her. She also spends the most time in the catio, and her favorite cat tree is the one overlooking the catio, which neither Coriander nor Ruby sleeps or sits on (Ruby scratches the base of this cat tree). Aside from the fact that Scribbles is quite comfortable in the back area of ​​the house, I haven’t been able to create any specific central territories for the cats, so it seems like my cats all overlap their territories a bit (my house is also quite small!).

All three are also more likely to share time than spend time on the same piece of furniture, although all three cats sleep on the bed with us at night and sit on or near the sofa with us when we watch TV. The evening.

I’ve adopted three sisters, and while I’d say they all get along without conflict, they don’t show frequent signs of feline friendship, such as:

  • Lying together, touching
  • Groom each other
  • Play together
  • Touch the nose

They do all of these things, but not very often. They may spend time together in the same room, but they are more likely to share time than use a resource together. I would characterize their relationship in the sister-roommate zone — closer than just roommates, but not quite “preferred associates” or friends.

As you create your annotated map, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my cats share or share time?
  • Do my cats have distinct and separate central territories?
  • Do some cats have shared territories?
  • If so, can they access all the important resources they need in their own main territory without entering the exclusive main territories of other cats (if necessary)?
  • Are there passages that can be blocked by cats or disturbed by people?
  • Are there so many things in your house that your cats can’t keep an eye on?
  • Are your cats forced to share certain resources because there aren’t enough to go around (general rule of thumb is number of cats + 1 for key resources like litter boxes, sleeping areas, etc.) food, scratching posts, etc.).

This is also a good opportunity to check if your cats are roommates, friends, or probably not friendly. Keep in mind that if you have a large cat household, you may have several different cat “families”, and some cats get along with everyone and some cats don’t get along with anyone! You can map your relationships just like you map your home. Which cats share a territory and show signs of friendship?

In this example, Kitten C gets along with 4 out of 5 other cats; kitten A wishes to live alone, and while C, D and F form a social group, cats B and E only like cat C.


I really like this video from Cats Protection which can help you determine if your cats are friendly or not!

I recommend that you regularly update your house map and your social map to note how things can change – even with the seasons (sunspots move), or as you receive new “cat stuff” or as the composition of your household changes – the use of your cats may also change. of space and relationships!!

Let me know what you find when performing these exercises!


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