Why does a feral cat rub itself against sticks, frames etc on my allotment?
Keith the feral cat at the allotments
One of 'my' feral cats knows me and comes very close and keeps rubbing herself against things all the time. She does it to whatever she is near, bamboo canes, frames, sticks, anything solid. I don't think she is marking areas as she does it with the whole side of her body.
The feral kitten on the site which is becoming very tame rubs herself against my legs and sometimes makes it very difficult for me to walk without treading on her so I pick her up.
Is this just a sign of affection, or is there something else?
Hi Betty... Nice to hear from you again. I feed a stray cat (Timmy) who comes in to my home and rubs against furniture as he walks with me to the kitchen for his food.
This is putting his scent on objects around him to create a more comfortable environment. The same thing is happening when your female feral rubs against sticks etc.
In this situation it isn't scent marking to mark out territory in my opinion; more a form of "distance greeting" combined with creating a "comfort zone".
When the tame feral rubs against you it is a form of greeting and scent exchange (the same as head butting - new window). She deposits scent on you and you deposit it on her creating a family environment. Once again this makes her feel more comfortable and it is a friendly greeting and therefore also a sign of affection.
One of the regulars might have different ideas. You might like to read: The social function of tail up in domestic cats.