ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR EXPERT KAREN WILD ON HOW TO HELP YOUR CAT COPE WITH VISITORS

Source: Stamford Mercury (Extract)
Posted: May 15, 2022

Last week we looked at the kind of ‘visits’ a neighbouring cat may be making to your home and garden, writes animal behaviour expert Karen Wild.

It’s a lot more than visible signs they are there. It’s often more subtle scent, or less subtle urine spraying, but all of these are indicators that your cat is under pressure from a not-so-friendly feline neighbour.

First of all, take a good look at where your cat likes to wander. How does your cat get in and out of the house? Are other cats peering in, and if so, where? What times of day does your cat like to leave the house, and most of all, does your cat have any toileting issues in the house, because this is often a sign that they are too stressed to leave their home.

Next, change everything you can to give your cat places to hide, sneak past any staring eyes, and to avoid conflict.

This can be as simple as adding large pots around your cat flap or back door, so that your cat can exit the home and hide quickly while they look around to make sure the other cat isn’t about. If there’s an exit you know they are likely to prefer, try to start using this instead.

In the garden itself, add extra routes from the house to wherever your cat likes to go. This might be extra shrubs to provide screening, or could be trellis or fencing that your cat can climb.

Cats usually prefer to be higher up and will feel safer having a vantage point. However, do not place these where a visiting cat can sit and stare at yours! Closer to your own house so that your cat can peer out is better.

Even old dog kennels or any structure where your cat can have little peep holes to see out of while they stay inside work well.

If the neighbouring cat is staring into your home, buy some cling window frosting film. You just place this onto the glass. It’s not sticky, but it does filter out any staring and this will help your cat have a more settled time indoors! It’s easy to get online and is very cheap, and doesn’t leave a mark.

Finally, the cat flap – if the neighbouring cat is barging all the way in, get a special cat flap that will only allow a cat that is wearing its own tag on their collar.

If this isn’t possible, arrange a time share with the other cat’s owner – your cat can go out mornings, theirs afternoons, for example.

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