Dear Labby: Intruder in my house

Hey, companion animals! Do you have an embarrassing symptom or a mystery medical problem? Are you having trouble getting your Human to listen to you? Labby is here to help! Her Human is a veterinarian, and if neither of them knows the answer, they’ll look it up for you! Send your questions (250 words or less) to dearlabby@armsofaloha.com.

 

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Dear Labby,

My Human just brought another cat into my house. She is about my age (three or four years old) and I can’t stand her. She acts so sweet and lovey around my Human, and purrs and jumps up on her lap. My Human thinks she’s adorable. It makes me sick. Then when I am trying to sneak by unobtrusively she jumps on me. It’s my house, Labby! What am I supposed to do?
When my Human is out or asleep, the intruder is locked in the bathroom so she can’t bother me. That’s something. But mostly I have to hide in the basement or the linen closet. 
I used to live with an old cat who was very quiet and sat around a lot. I used to jump on her! She didn’t like it much, and I feel bad now I am the one being jumped on. She is dead now, but she used to watch out for me and tell my Human if I needed anything, even though I jumped on her. I miss her. I think my Human thought I was lonely and needed another cat, but this is worse than being lonely. 
What can I do, Labby? I want to make my Human take the intruder back to wherever she came from, but are there any other answers? I don’t want to live my life like this. I like being in control. 
Help me, Labby! You’re my only hope. 
Signed,
Terrorized in my Own Home

My Dearest Terrorized,

Labby gets lots of questions like this, and rest assured you are not alone (even if you want to be). Not long ago, I advised Macy on how to cope with a new roommate. Maybe this is a good time to discuss how to make sure you two are getting along well now that you are all settled in.

It’s quite normal for younger cats to be more active and playful, and to then settle into their “lazy” years for, well, forever. Cats are naturally more territorial and solitary than Labbies like me. While space can be important for cats, access to resources is perhaps an even bigger concern for them.

What can your Human do to help you, Terrorized? She can make sure there are plenty of resources for both of you in your home.

Resting Spaces

Cats need their space and a chance for privacy. She should aim to provide lots of desirable perches so that you can each choose your favorites. Ideal resting spots include high perches, places where cats can hide out of view, and those with a view to the outdoors (nature’s television for cats).

Food

Dogs in the same household tend to organize into a “pack” with a defined hierarchy. While there is definitely a pecking order among cats, they tend to be more egalitarian. My Human has noticed her “top cat” be the first at the feeder, but after a few bites, he will sit nearby and supervise his underlings as they get their turn. If you and your protégé are having difficulty working out such an arrangement, your Human may want to consider establishing multiple feeding stations to reduce conflict.

Toys

Food puzzles are all the rage now, although I don’t really understand it – I’d just as soon eat the entire puzzle, thankyouverymuch. But cats are hunters, and using puzzles satisfies that natural instinct – so hopefully she won’t resort to trying to engage you in roughhousing quite so often. A quick search for “food puzzle” on your Human’s favorite internet shopping site will reveal thousands of options.

Other toys will also help keep her busy. Cats enjoy toys that move, can be batted around, or resemble natural prey. And of course, there is always that good old standby, catnip! Your Human should just keep in mind what I said about resources above if catnip is something you both love.

Litterboxes

Often overlooked! Even if you’re both good kitties and not messing elsewhere, it can be a strain on your relationship if there’s competition for this valuable resource. All those behavior experts my Human likes to go on about recommend having one more litterbox than the number of cats in the household. They should be strategically spread out in convenient (to you, that is, not necessarily to the Humans!) locations throughout your shared living space – sorry Humans, but two litterboxes right next to each other don’t count as two in the mind of a cat. When choosing locations, your Human should also bear in mind that cats are very particular about having their food/water and potty in separate areas (as are some dogs, although other dogs may consider the potty a good place to find dessert).

I can’t make your young friend mind her manners like a sedate and mature lady like yourself, Terrorized, but I hope that with some added quiet resting areas and more entertainment options for her, you’ll get some needed relief!

With Love and Slobbery Lab-Kisses,

Labby

 

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Labby’s Human wants to remind you to consult your veterinarian if you’re not feeling well. There is no substitute for an exam and advice from a doctor who has seen you in the flesh (or fur)! 

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