ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q:I have a spayed female cat who mostly stays indoors and but likes to go out in the evenings. There are a couple of male cats who wander into her territory. The angry, fighting, howling cat words are loud and scare me. My first tendency would be to yell and pull her to safety, though more than likely, I would get scratched and bit as well. What should one do to help the animal without getting myself hurt?
Dr. Nichol: We would like to think of these visitors as fine young gentleman with only the best of intentions. If you met them on your doorstep you could anticipate white sport coats and pink carnations. There may be even greater intrigue. All that screeching and caterwauling may be the contestants dueling for your kitty’s hand. Or maybe not.
The reality, while less romantic, is that behavioral research and practice experience are clear: If a cat has not been exposed to this social construct by the age of 5-7 weeks there will be a strong likelihood of a fear-related aggressive reaction if it arises at any time in her later life. Your cat will always be a spinster. She will not ever go to the dance with anybody, no matter how charming. Sadly, you will never have grand kittens.
If your cat could speak a human language she would implore you, her leader and protector, to erect a border wall to prevent the entry of illegal aliens. I know how unkind that sounds, but cats are different. We love them like little people in furry suits, but they are actually members of a rather different species. Your cat is not having a good time; she needs a reliable security system.
A rape alarm would unleash an ear-piercing blast, scaring the bejesus out of those local hoods and, of course, your own cat as well. The ScareCrow, on the other hand, is a motion activated animal repellent. Available online it “Startles pests with sound and a startling-but-harmless burst of water.” Getting unceremoniously hosed and publicly humiliated, your little feline flower’s would-be suitors are sure to search elsewhere for a prom date.
Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.