Help! My Indoor Cat Is Being Tormented by an Outdoor Cat

Indoor cat looking at outdoor cat through sliding glass door
Your neighbors may not be aware that their outdoor cat has been coming to your property and bothering your indoor cat.

The social behavior of cats can vary greatly from one pet to another. Some people do not believe that cats exhibit territorial behavior, while others have strong beliefs that they do. From my experience, I can say that I have certainly been called in many times to help people with their cat's behavior issues after seeing an outdoor cat.

Many people may not realize that their cats may be a menace to the neighborhood or to the neighbors' cats. For example, I worked with a family that was mortified to learn at a neighborhood block party that the neighbors each had a story of how their cat was a bully. The cat would try to attack them in their own homes or cars when they tried to get the cat to leave! In another case, an owner was embarrassed to learn that her cat was going up to neighbors’ houses and begging for food. Almost everyone in the neighborhood had tried to adopt her cat at one time or another. The point is, owners of outdoor cats may not be aware of how much their outdoor cat is wandering or the effect it might be having on others.  

While some people let their cats outside, other people choose to keep their cats indoors because indoor cats typically live longer lives than outdoor cats. Indoor cats are kept away from potential dangers such as other outdoor animals, cars and getting into potentially toxic or poisonous substances such as rat bait or antifreeze (unless of course they find these things inside their own homes). Those of us who keep our cats indoors know that sometimes indoor cats may be interested in watching outdoor cats walk through their yard and hang around outside their house. In some cases, indoor cats may become upset by the sight of strange cats close to their property. I have certainly encountered many cats who get so upset at the sight of an outdoor cat that they fluff out their fur, start yowling and hissing and then may turn on the closest living creature standing next to them, whether that’s their feline housemate, the family dog or the unsuspecting owner. It may sound funny but it is not a funny matter when your cats suddenly start fighting with each other after one episode of redirected aggressive behavior or when your cat starts to attack you or your dog every time he sees you after the incident. Some indoor cats may not become aggressive but still exhibits signs of stress. They may vocalize and pace back and forth close to the window where they last saw the other cat. They may also start to eliminate in inappropriate areas around the house. Sometimes outdoor cats may come to your property and deliberately spray around the outside of your house. If the outdoor cat sprays, odor molecules can sometimes be carried in through vents or open doors or windows. This can cause your indoor cat to become even more agitated. Sometimes, indoor cats will spray in response inside the house.

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