Feeling Better Through Artistic Expression


Second in a series

Have you noticed how the unhealthy behavior of others can derail an otherwise excellent relationship? My good old friends Tom and Anna love their cats, Elliott and Sophie, but they’re also rather fond of their antique furniture. They know who’s responsible for the desecration of their Queen Anne sofa and chairs because they’ve busted Elliott in the act. And of course, they’ve done their best to convince the little devil to stop.

The most common reason for people to surrender their cats to shelters isn’t aggression, internal disease, or expense. It’s house soiling. Cats may void their bladders on horizontal surfaces like rugs, sinks, bathtubs, kitchen counters, and piles of laundry. The sprayers, like Elliott, back up to walls, drapes, their person (eeww!!), or really nice home furnishings. The poopers are something else.

Anna and Tom provided big, clean, uncovered litter pans and located plastic spikey scat mats on their favorite, plastic covered, furniture. They applied an enzymatic cleaner (Anti Icky Poo) and then sat Elliott down for a heart-to-heart. Being a genuinely sweet kitty, he just gazed at them and purred.

As I sat and observed the household and inspected the crime scenes, the perpetrator hung out like any relaxed, well-adjusted cat. His non-spraying feline roomie, Sophie? Not so much.

None of us lives in a vacuum; everybody does their best to adapt to their environment. Sophie sometimes rests, but not often. She fidgets and moves about, often stopping to lick her coat. Her skin twitches slightly. Worst of all, while a lot smaller than Elliott, she ambushes him and pounces. Sophie is itchy and irritable; aggression is her coping mechanism.

Some bullied cats hide, others fight back but like many who get by in a stressful environment, Elliott sprays urine. He engages in this odious habit to feel better. If his quality of life improves, on the other hand, his behavior should too. All eyes are now on Sophie and the reasons for her shabby treatment of poor, long-suffering Elliott.

Next week: What do you do with a cat like Sophie?

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Email pet behavior or physical questions to drjeffnichol@drjeffnichol.com or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.

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