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Turf 101

Excerpt from Cat vs. Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett

In a free-roaming environment, a cat’s area is divided up into different sections. These divisions are clearly defined from a cat’s point of view. The outermost area where the cat roams and patrols for food is referred to as the home range, and may overlap other cats’ areas as well. Adult males tend to have a larger home range than females, and during mating season, an intact male’s home range will increase temporarily as he seeks to mate. In the home range, a cat is more likely to flee than engage in conflicts. 

Inward from the home range is the cat’s actual territory. This is the area a cat will defend against intruders. If an intruder enters, the cat who owns the territory has the psychological “home field” advantage. A cat’s home range and territory are obviously smaller, and they develop or are combined into one due to the physical limitations of the four walls. A cat may permit another familiar social companion cat to enter his territory up to a certain point. 

The innermost part of the territory is the cat’s personal space. He may allow a social companion into this space or the cat may be driven back to a more acceptable distance. As with people, every cat is an individual, some need very small personal spaces, and others need a more extensive zone around them.

Indoor cats divide up territories within the home just as free-roaming cats do outdoors. Because there’s a plentiful food source, though, they don’t have to compete for food, so most of the time there is less stress on territory definitions.

For more advice on living in a multi-cat household, purchase Cat vs. Cat from www.tuftscatnip.com.

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