Archive for April, 2008

Cat Spraying – We’ve Weathered the Storm…

Last post, we talked about inappropriate inside behaviour, ie. marking. In cat parley that means backing up to a vertical service and peeing a few short bursts to ‘claim’ the area. It is very typical behaviour but obviously for inside cats, not a desirable trait. Andy and I had several serious chats about this.

I also went online and checked out a few forums. I highly recommend www.thecatsite.com . Their forum has a lot of information and tips. I also have referred before to www.calgaryhumanesociety.com as they have a number of very informative articles.

But back to our experience….Andy has never done this before except once when he was very young. I suddenly remembered that incident in the thick of wanting to smack him silly. (I didn’t, of course, but I had a lot of terse questions for him.) As I watched the behaviour escalate, I remembered him leaping up onto the loveseat a few years ago, and doing a double take at a dish towel I had left over the back of it, when the phone rang. Evidently he resented the intrusion and backed his hiney to it and gave it a spritz, while I was on the phone, right in front of me! I mention this as it is apparently a normal response and not really a cause for worry.

Fast forward to recent weeks. We had a skunk in the yard, and all the dogs found it and got sprayed. It is Spring, and as this is a rural area, there are feral cats about and males are likely marking their territory and females of course are in heat. A squirrel has found its way into the attic and is making proprietary noises. And – darnit! it’s Spring!

Now if you visit the websites I’ve mentioned you will find references to tin foil on areas where the brat is spraying (great idea), double sided tape, cat pheromone spray, odour eliminators (plain old vinegar works well in this regard too, btw) and spraying with a water sprayer when you catch them in the act. The course of action in all cases, is to first find where the spraying is occurring (this can be accomplished, in the dark, with the aid of a black-light), applying an odour eliminator and then a pheromone spray. If these measures don’t work, tin foil as a temporary measure can work very well. If taped up on the favoured spots, the sound of the spray, and the back-spray is off-putting. 

One thing that is not mentioned much, but in our case was critical, is that cats do get a little stir crazy! Especially, obviously, inside cats which of course mine are. So! I opened up the basement door. Ordinarily the cats are not allowed down there. This seems to have alleviated the problem. Now Andy has some new territory to explore and his frustration level has gone down. He still scratches at the french door, wanting out into the ‘Big Yonder’ but he is much more relaxed. Pure frustration will lead a cat to spraying behaviour. It’s not that he wants to be bad – he just sometimes doesn’t know what else to do.

Some cats are fine amusing themselves and others require a lot of stimulation. Mine are a mixed herd, so this year, I will have a run built. The cats will access it through an inside window with a pet door built in. It will be very high at the house end and be like a lean-to. It will have chicken wire all around, including underground, with the grass and sod laid over the ground portion. There will be a door for me to go in and out, from the outside, so I can change litter boxes. And it will have all manner of climbing and hanging toys.

I cannot risk them going about free. Too many predatory animals and birds. But I think they will benefit from some sun and air, and perhaps I will never have to gape in outrage as my ‘angel Andy’ pees on my couch again.

Newbie Course on Blogging

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SPRING! – and a young man’s fancy….

Shhhh!…it’s Barb here, and I’m writing this on the sly. Andy is captivated elsewhere. I’ve had the screen door open that leads onto the deck so the cats can watch and listen to the birds. Andy is mesmerised by the goings on out there.

The reason for this post, is the reason that many cats are surrendered to animal shelters all over North America. I want to help prevent some of this with this post.

Andy is displaying some very bad behaviour. I have caught him a few times trying, and in a couple of cases succeeding, to mark his territory. This is very unusual as he was duely neutered when he was six months old and has never exhibited this behaviour. As I know this is a huge issue for cat caregivers, and particularly for new cat folks, I thought I would try and shed a little sunlight on this issue.

Male cats, and sometimes females, want to mark their territory for various reasons. Males, of course, want to claim any females within their chosen territory, and females, if un-altered, want to let the guys know where to find them. Males and females both, will want to ward off any encroachment on their food sources too. In the wild that would be X number of fieldmice and other prey in a particular territory. In the feral cat world, food and exemplary procreation opportunties are the watchwords.

So what does this have to do with four housebound felines? All of whom are spayed or neutered?

Well as it happens, male cats when they are neutered don’t neccessarily ‘forget’ their natural instincts. Andy, from time to time, will exhibit very male behaviour and grab Gretchen by the neck and make very definite male, mating sounds. She then exhibits very un-female behaviour and trys to beat the crap out of him and they go to their corners for a while.

So what is going on?

Well it’s complicated depending on where you live. My theories are based on observation only and I offer them here, with an emphasis on where I live. I hope that you will offer here your own theories and observations…

In our case here there are a few possibilities. Andy lives with three female cats, all of whom have been spayed. I suspect though that at certain times of the year, they have a hormonal ‘surge’ and he may be reacting to that. Spring Fever? Well maybe. We have all been housebound for many months. There is that but also, we live in a rural area, so there are feral cats wandering around. I suspect maybe one or two may recognise that there are female cats in this house and are marking their own territory, to which Andy is responding. The other possibility is simply an exess of cats! I noticed when I ran an animal shelter, that when we were most crowded with cats, there was more territorial behaviour. This would speak to the ‘Cabin Fever’ kind of thing that I think may be happening here.

What do do?…My favourite choice is a spray bottle of water. Most cats hate to be sprayed with water. If your cat is being a dork, spray him in his mid spritz – with a spritz of water. If he has a favourite spot, clean it with vinegar and water. This will neutralize the scent and he will forget to mark there. Understand too, that this is likely a sporadic thing and your Lothario will soon become his usual, charming self.

Note to Rural cat caregivers…New Info – The outside dogs encountered a skunk. That may be a factor in Andy’s actions too…Can’t go anywhere outside without encountering that odour. Yikes!!

For further information on this behaviour I encourage you to consult www.calgaryhumane.ca There are many excellent articles there on many cat behaviours.

Don’t tell Andy about this post…shhhh