Apollo is 13 years old now. He had never marked the house as a kitten, not with the introduction of a new dog, or even a new cat to the home. When I moved after vet school, he would very occasionally mark, but only when my mother-in-law brought a package over that must have smelled like one of the cats in her household. No big deal.
It wasn’t until we moved into our current home that his marking behavior picked up significantly. I’ve ruled out medical problems for him- multiple times, so I’m left with the conclusion that his desire to drench the house in his special parfum de peuw is the result of some primitive instinct in his little furry cat-head. Marking can be a manifestation of stress or insecurity. So what’s different about this house now in 2011 as opposed to my other home in 2002?
- no Callie
- 2 loud kids
- many more resident neighborhood cats roaming about
Of all the possibilities, I’ve concluded the last reason is one of the main problems for Apollo. We have a lot of cats in the neighborhood, often roaming the yard, coming up to our windows, and taunting Apollo. It’s not like he can hide in the bushes with a hose like my dear old Dad used to do with those pesky teenagers, so all he can do is turn butt out and scream “KNOCK IT OFF!!” in big yellow letters.
I haven’t tried much by way of cat deterrents. If Brody is around, I open the back door. I’ve also tried Shake Away by the doors and windows, though the idea of sprinkling coyote urine around the outside of my house is only mildly less annoying than washing cat urine off the inside of the house.
Behaviorists also recommend the ScareCrow, which delivers a motion-activated blast of water. I’d consider it, but after seeing Brody’s treatment of the hose heads I think it’s likely to wind up a very expensive water blasting chew toy.
It’s hard to tell when Apollo is stressed out, since aside from the marking, he doesn’t outwardly exhibit many signs. He’s a low key cat. Which is why I was utterly startled at 2 am last night to be awoken by what could only be described as the panicked yowls of a cat with his head caught in the garbage disposal. It’s a sound rarely heard outside the confines of a veterinary clinic. (Wait a minute, that makes it sound like I put cat heads in the garbage disposal at work. You know what I mean.)
My husband, being taller and longer of leg, made it downstairs ahead of me and remains the only witness to the scene, but I find him credible. According to him, Apollo was perched on the front windowsill. Directly opposite him on the other side of the window was one of these:
Of course, by the time I made it downstairs, the bobcat was gone.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband had informed me he spotted what he thought might be a mountain lion cub cruising the sidewalk by our home, but he didn’t get a great look at it. Since this one was so kind as to be posing on the front stoop like a carnivorous lawn ornament, he feels more comfortable in his assessment, right down to the short tail. The most likely conclusion, of course, is that they are one and the same. But seeing as how he has now had 2 viewings and I’ve had none, I admit to being a bit apprehensive. What is this Chupacabra of the Pawcurious Glade?
“Why didn’t you shoot it?” I asked with no small amount of irritation. “Because I didn’t have time to dig out the tripod at 2 in the morning,” he sensibly replied. (This was a fun story to tell to my neighbor who, not knowing my husband’s weapon of choice is a Canon, gave the appropriate “NOOOO!” horrified response to my call for shooting.)
I then decided that I didn’t believe him and it was probably just one of those fat tomcats you see waddling around. So the next morning, I went out early before the kids got up and investigated. The weather was wet and muddy, and sure enough, lined up and down in front of the house were a set of well-preserved big cat footprints. I looked online for pawprint photos, I pressed Brody’s foot into the mud to compare, and there’s no doubt: those were the feet of a forty pound feline.
I doubt that cat cares about my measly coyote pee sprinkles.
No wonder Apollo is stressed! I’d be too! Sometimes, when it’s late at night and pitch black and I didn’t close the shutters, my brain starts to play games with me like, “What if you looked up right now, and there was someone standing there with his face pressed to the window? Someone like FREDDY KRUEGER??” and I have to run into the laundry room for a minute. That kind of happened for real to my cat. Poor Apollo. I’d scream too.
I have no idea what a bobcat would make of the ScareCrow. I suppose it’s worth a shot if he shows up again. In the meantime, let’s forget him for a moment and assume we are talking regular neighborhood cats. Anyone have tried and true methods to get them off your property?