Question: fighting cats
We had a cat with separation anxiety, leaving puddles on shoes whenever we left the house. This problem was solved with the arrival of our little tomcat. They cuddle and groom one another, but early in the morning they fight, and it happens an hour or two before we get up, or want to get up. I am gone 11 to 12 hours a day, and I have limited time in the morning, or any time, to give them attention.
They fight all over the place, but especially in the bedroom, so we’ve tried to close the door, which only leads them to scream and scratch at the other side. I’ve tried to spray water at them and holler ‘no!’ I am sure a part of the problem is that they sleep all day. Do you have any suggestions? E.B., Hugo, MN
You are so right; these cats are probably sleeping all day – so let’s find a way to keep them busy. Get yourself a pair of timed feeders – so food will periodically become available during the day. It could be the cats are anticipating food in the morning, hence their focus on waking you up. Set the feeders to deliver food in the morning (at a time that is before they usually wake you), and their focus will hopefully turn to the feeders.
Also, teach your cats to roll around treat dispensing balls and to use food puzzles. Eventually, hide the puzzles with about 10 percent of your cats’ daily allotment in various places around the house so the cats “hunt” to find their reward — providing an activity when you’re away.
Having many toys isn’t nearly as important as rotating toys (the same ones get boring), and toys can be simple – from wine corks, to milk carton tops, to ping pong balls in a bathtub, to an empty box with catnip inside. Even an empty box with a new surprise inside every day, such as catnip or a mouse toy.
Feeding a meal before bedtime might help as well. The essence of my advice is that these cats need more to do.
Sometimes, even negative attention, such as water spray (which could be interpreted as a game) or hollering at the kitties only reinforces them. In any case, those strategies aren’t helping.
While cats and more independent than dogs, they should never be ignored; there’s got to be a way to find 10 minutes a day to play with them. Your best bet would be two play sessions, each five minutes long — using interactive toys, such as a fishing pole type toy.
For more on enriching your cat’s environment, check out The Indoor Pet Initiative, http://indoorpet.osu.edu/
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.