Despite the constant onslaught of snow, the robins are back and the magpies are fixing their nests… SPRING IS HERE! Your cat may be content to enjoy the longer hours napping in the sunshine, but for some other kitties, the longer days seem to bring out the some less than desirable behaviour.
We have many clients come in this time of year saying that their normally docile house kitty is suddenly trying to run out the door, or two cats that have gotten along are now wrestling nonstop. Add shedding hair on top of that, and it can be a frustrating time of year for cat owners.
Why the change? It has a lot to do with the change in day length in addition to warmer weather, and occasionally roaming cats. Many cats breed to shed between seasons, though it’s most noticeable with longhaired cats. If you don’t normally brush your long hair cat, you may need to this time of year. Consider getting them shaved, this will get rid of painful hair mats.
While your pet may be spayed or neutered, the warmer weather can still make them think of fresh air and hunting. This happens more often with cats that come from a barn cat background.
To keep your cat inside, barriers are the most effective. If you have a porch, you can keep the door to the inside closed so your cat can’t get close to the door. You can also set up barriers so that you don’t have to try and shuffle in juggling groceries while trying to block your cat from getting out with your feet. Some younger cats can be trained to stay away from the door area using compressed air with a motion sensor top (Ssscat ™), or the occasional squirt of water.
If your cat still insists on going outside, remember the city of Calgary has a bylaw against roaming cats. Train your cat to wear a harness, cat proof your yard or build a catio. The most frustrating complaint we can hear is that kitties in a house wrestle more this time of year. This can be exaggerated play behaviour, or re-directed aggression because they cannot go outside as much as they would like. This behaviour can also be triggered by seeing other cats outside. These more severe cases are called re-directed aggression and happen when your indoor cat sees an outdoor cat and wants to chase it away, but can’t. Instead, this cat chases another cat (or sometimes human) inside the house. This is not playful wrestling, this is done with the intent to scare and occasionally cause harm. If this occurs, the two cats often have to be separated for a period of time and gradually reintroduced. You will also have to find a way to stop the ‘invader’ cat from coming close enough to be seen. This can often be as simple as fixing a fence, but for some people, they have had to resort to blocking the view from the lower part of the window so that their cat cannot see out.
For mild cases of spring fever, increasing playtime and considering ways to safely have your cat enjoy the great outdoors is enough. Some clients find Feliway diffusers can help minimize disruption in the house, while other cats can benefit from over the counter products designed to decrease stress such as the Zylkene™ supplement or Calm diet ™. If your cat is in the small minority that is potentially causing harm to themselves or others, please call the clinic to book an appointment with the vet to discuss further.
What sort of response to spring does your pet have?
Written by Dr. Tasha, DVM