DEAR DR. FOX: I hope that you can give me some insight into recent "catfrontations."
My husband and I returned from our service as Peace Corps volunteers in March. During our two-plus years of service, our two cats (ages 12 and 9 and both spayed females) were fostered and adjusted well.
We returned to the U.S. and moved to a new state. The two cats seemed to adjust well to our new home for many weeks. Then suddenly the younger, meeker one began to engage in continuing fights with the older one. This morning, I found one of the cats had urinated and defecated on their food and water mat. Any recommendations? -- R.P., Longmont, Colorado
DEAR R.P.: Felines can be fickle, fastidious and feral in their behavioral range. No peace in your two-cat family after your Peace Corps service is ironic. That they adapted well initially to the new home with you, and the sudden incidence of aggression, calls for some detective work.
These spats could be caused by a free-roaming cat outdoors who your cat sees, hears or smells as the cat enters and no doubt spray-marks your property. Allowing indoor cats to go outdoors at any time, unsupervised and roaming out of their owners' properties, should be prohibited in every community. Such cats are the most common cause of indoor cats becoming extremely disturbed, house-soiling, attacking each other (so-called redirected aggression) and developing stress-related health problems such as cystitis. Others may show displacement behaviors such as excessive self-grooming and self-mutilation.
See if there is a cat entering your property; if you can locate the owner, have them keep the cat indoors. Try the cat pheromone product Feliway in the room your cats congregate in with you. Put a few drops of essential oil of lavender where your cats sleep, give them catnip, groom them together regularly and engage in interactive games.
DEAR DR. FOX: Thank you very much for your quick and thoughtful response, Dr. Fox.
Perhaps you are prescient: There is a neighbor with a female calico who has wandered into our backyard and riled our younger female cat. We will try your suggestions. -- R.P.
THANKSGIVING TURKEY PARDON US
Conforming to tradition, President Obama gave the sign of the cross, or some semblance thereof, as he "pardoned" a turkey, meaning that its life would be spared from the mass slaughter of turkeys for America's Thanksgiving celebration. But should we not perhaps consider a Thanksgiving that embraces all creatures in gratitude for how much they have contributed to society, to the economy, to our emotional and spiritual well-being and especially to ecological integrity and environmental health? Perhaps the next president might express a different sentiment to the ceremonial turkey presented to him or her and pray for all of us to be pardoned for what we have done to Mother Earth and all who dwell therein.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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