Even though you protect your cat from injury and diseases by keeping them safe indoors, roaming neighborhood cats can cause extreme stress and mental anguish for your pet. Sometimes territorial posturing can get to be so bad that your cat can begin to exhibit undesirable behaviors in an attempt to ward off unwanted visitors.
Here is an effective approach to dealing with the issue. Be sure to use all of these tips as they work together; by themselves, they aren’t likely to make a permanent difference.
Block the View
The sight of a feline trespasser is often enough to stress an indoor cat and cause undesirable behavior changes including spraying and scratching. It can also cause redirected aggression, which is a behavior that happens when a cat can’t get to the intruder to attack, and so attacks other pets, your children, or you. You’ll want to prevent this at all costs, so use an opaque static cling window cover or tape fabric or paper to the windows to keep your cat from peering out at the intruder. Blinds and curtains aren’t usually enough. Sometimes they might run away because of the attacks and get lost easily. But you can report your missing pet with PawMaw to find them quickly.
If you have multiple pets and they are fighting because of redirected aggression, you’ll have to separate them for now and reintroduce them once the trespasser has been dealt with.
Identify and Discourage Outdoor Cats
If the cat(s) in question belongs to your neighbors, let them know what’s happening and ask them nicely to keep their cats home. If feral cats are roaming your neighborhood, contact a no-kill shelter or a cat rescue organization for help with humanely trapping, neutering, and releasing the cats in an area where they’ll be safer.
According to the site MoneyPug, which is known as a platform to find pet insurance, cats are pretty territorial and can fight other cats if they feel like their area is threatened. This is why you don’t want your cat around other cats that you don’t know. It is better to remove your car from the situation and cultivate healthy relationships with other cats.
What if it isn’t possible to remove those feline offenders from your neighborhood? There are a few fairly easy ways to discourage them from pestering your indoor cat.
- Remove any food sources and clean up any food odors, i.e. drips around your barbecue area.
- Take down bird feeders and birdbaths, at least until you restore order.
- Use cat repellent around your property lines, ensuring that you reapply it after rain or as recommended.
- Add bird spikes to the top of your fences to prevent cats from walking and perching on top.
- Use motion-activated sprinklers, lights, and even sirens to scare cats away.
- Block off hiding spots including areas under patios and decks.
- Add prickly, uncomfortable landscaping features like sharp rocks and thorny bushes.
- Add plants that cats hate: Geranium, lemon thyme, pennyroyal, lavender, rue, and scaredy-cat plant (coleus canina) are great choices.
- Remove plants that attract cats, i.e. lemon balm, catnip, cat thyme, and valerian are some favorites.
Clean Up Outside
Cats mark their territory by urinating, and it’s quite likely that neighborhood cats that have been attempting to take up residence by marking around your doors, windows, and landscaped areas. The odor of the urine can drift inside your home and cause your cat to respond in kind, even if you can’t smell anything. You can use a blacklight after dark to identify where the trespasser has sprayed, and then apply an enzymatic cleaner to affected areas. If the cat has been marking for a while, you might need to apply cleaner multiple times to clear up all of the urine.
Clean Up Indoors
If your pet has expressed displeasure by marking, use an enzymatic cleaner to remove the urine. Again, you’ll want to use a black light to find urine wherever it may be, and you’ll probably have to use multiple applications of an enzyme cleaner.
Additionally, consider helping your cat reclaim territory by treating them to a brand-new litter box. Cats are naturally fastidious and a good self-cleaning litter box, like the ones listed on All About Cats, can be very helpful since it eliminates the added stress that comes when kitty needs a clean place to use the bathroom but can’t find one. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of punishing your cat for doing what comes naturally. They can’t help instinctively defending their own territory and yelling or other punitive measures will only make matters worse.
Make Your Cat Comfortable
It’s a good idea to schedule a checkup with your vet just to double-check that a medical issue isn’t to blame for issues such as urinating outside the litter box. If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, this is another step you can take to reduce marking caused by hormonal triggers. Additionally, your vet might be able to prescribe anti-anxiety drugs to help your cat deal with emotional trauma.
There’s more. Cats crave comfort, security, and predictability. According to the experts at Feline Culture, a calming aid that contains artificial pheromones can reduce signs of stress including inappropriate urination. Provide scratching posts, (check out Feline Culture’s reviews), plenty of toys, food puzzles, vertical perches, and plenty of affection as you bring a sense of calm and control back to their world.