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

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April 2008

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