Mind of Your Cat

April 2009 Issue

Hark, Who Goes There?

Your beloved indoor cat can suffer various degrees of stress due to outdoor animals. Here's why.

Quite often, I am told tales of apparently mild-mannered cats that seem to tolerate all of life’s challenges save one: the Trespasser. When face to face with a Cat Errant, Mr. Mellow just cannot cope. We are all cat lovers and certainly wish no harm to our neighbors’ cats. But naturally, we want to look out for our family. When a resident cat spies a potential intruder, several responses are possible. If you are lucky, your cat might believe that the more, the merrier. He may chirp, he may posture in a beckoning manner, or he may continue to nap calmly, with no apparent interest in the antics of his comrade through the glass. If you are less lucky, you may find that your cat does not trust that the glass is sufficient to keep an offending cat at bay. He may post "Private Property" signs of his own. You may come home to discover that your windows and doors have been marked with urine. If you manage to get through the winter months unscathed, beware the ides of April. For when the windows are opened for a little fresh air, the urgency to reset the barriers will return. The most concerning cat of all is the cat that experiences profound fear upon viewing an unfamiliar cat. The frightened cat may respond by redirecting aggression toward a member of your household. Although other cats are most frequently targeted, other pets and people may find themselves victims of serious attacks. The impact on a relationship can be devastating. Fortunately, you can intervene. You will need to work with both sides of the equation.

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