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Marauding Moggies

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:29:06 AM EST by Cam Day

Curious Cats

They are a free spirit and masters of their own destiny. Being curious creatures, cats will roam wherever they please. But, the roaming of cats is one trait that can certainly cause problems for the owners of the cat, the neighbours of the cat, and the cat itself.

Roaming cats cause community disharmony. They are at risk themselves from injury, both accidental and malicious, and from diseases that they can both catch and spread. They can also harm wildlife such as marsupials, birds and reptiles. On the other hand, they do help to control rodents.

Why do Cats Roam?

cathunting200Cats roam because they can. What's happening in their neck of the woods is discovered during their reconnaissance missions and they find out what other cats are up to as well. Cats that are not desexed do roam more than their responsibly desexed cousins. The romance-deprived hormones of 'entire' male and female cats will make the moody moggies roam for kilometres looking for a 'like-minded' suitor.

If your cat roams, then having it desexed will keep it at home more.

Cats use their territories in a special way too. They have what is best described as a 'timesharing' arrangement for their overlapping territories. If an overlapping territory is in your back yard, then brawls, noisy caterwauling and the acrid odour of cat urine sprayed around the garden are likely to be common and annoying problems.

What Can Happen if a Cat Roams?

When cats are claiming their land rights, they will fight. This is where injuries and the spread of disease occur.

Due to the stiletto-like shape of a cat's canine teeth and the dangerous bacteria that live in and around the cat's teeth and gums, a bite wound will often intercat_aggression-home200result in a Cat Fight Abscess. As they bite, they force bacteria from their teeth under the skin. Pus is produced in the wound and this usually erupts from the bite wound like a volcano when the wound has 'matured' for a few days.

Cat Fight Abscesses are painful for the cat and when they burst, the smell is awful.

Veterinary treatment is essential. A course of antibiotics will usually clear the infection quickly but your cat may need an anaesthetic or surgery.

When it fights, an infected cat will also spread Feline AIDS, an auto-immune disease similar in many ways to human AIDS. Feline AIDS is only transmitted by saliva and, therefore, by the bite of a cat. It is not spread by sexual contact. Because they are more aggressive, entire male cats are much more likely to carry the Feline AIDS virus. The virus is also often found in desexed cats allowed to roam extensively.

If your cat is the victim of another that is roaming, the injuries and the visits to the vet have probably frustrated you. The danger of disease is another worry and the visiting cat is likely to spray urine around your house in its attempts to declare your house and garden as its territory. Even your own cat may be house-soiling or spraying in response to the challenges left by the visiting cat. By soiling inside the house, your cat is attempting to declare your house as its own territory. This makes it feel better and we presume your cat is hoping that the smell will frighten off the other cat.

However, your own cat's reaction to the visiting cat can be extreme. High level anxiety is a common problem and if you have more than one cat, you may find the more anxious cat is transferring its aggression to others that it lives with.

A third problem caused by roaming cats it the effect on non-cat owners. They get justifiably angry about their garden being used as a 'no-man's-land' - an arena used by the neighbourhood moggies for their calamitous clashes. The noise, the odour around the garden beds that the cats may be using as a latrine and the stench of urine spray are intolerable for most non-cat owners.

What can be Done to Prevent a Cat Roaming?

Nowadays, responsible cat owners are doing all they can to control their cat's roaming. Desexing cats when they are young is important but, in addition, many cat owners are deciding to confine their cats inside their homes, either at night or continuously, to prevent roaming.

catlookingoutwindow200Some are successful in confining their cats to a room or two inside the house while others choose to allow their cats to roam the whole house but do not allow them outside. However, most cats will be happier if their housing includes a Fun Park on an enclosed balcony or veranda, or a purpose built enclosure in the back yard.

What your cat really wants is a semi-outside area where, via a cat door, it can come inside for kisses, cuddles and food and go outside to satisfy its need for exploration and exercise.

New products on the market make the construction of such an enclosure even easier. One product I have seen is a soft, pre-stretched polyethylene netting that is flexible enough to enclose anything from verandas to whole garden areas, including the trees! The netting is such that it is almost invisible when installed and therefore it doesn't make the house and yard look like a prison.

Cats love to explore - it's in their nature. Our job as responsible pet owners is to ensure that both our pets and the wildlife outside remain safe and free from harm.


Comment by: Cam Day
Oct 16, 2016 at 9:14 AM
Thanks John, That's a common problem and I am glad you don't want to create harm to that visiting cat. Most of the details you need are on this facts sheet. You will need a membership to get full access but's that cheaper than a burger and fries! Cam
Comment by: John Rosbottom
Oct 14, 2016 at 6:42 PM
We live in a rural area in Norfolk where the housing is spread out. Two cats from a house about 100 metres away, Visit our garden every day, defecating wherever they will. We are not anti-cat but this creates a serious problem for us and we wondered if there is any process we can adopt to discourage our unwelcome visitors. Can you advise as to any measures we can take.?
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