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Healthy Cats

Overcoming 7 Obstacles to Cat Ownership

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A Housemate Doesn’t Want Cats

This is too big an issue to boil down to a quick solution. But here are two strategies to try when you want a cat but the person you share your home with doesn’t:

  • Talk it out.  Learn why your spouse or roommate doesn’t want a cat. Maybe she prefers dogs. Or maybe she would like a pet one day, but now isn’t the right time. Talk about the pluses of cat ownership: love, purpose, fulfillment -- and even better, health. Studies show that having a pet can lower a person’s blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and even diminish depression.
  • Offer solutions. If your roommate or spouse is resisting cat ownership for issues you can tackle, such as shedding or odor, talk about how they can be addressed. Or the problem could be numbers: You’d like multiple cats, but she can only cope with one cat. See if you can compromise. Perhaps she’s just not sure whether she wants a pet. In that case, fostering a cat could be a way to test the waters.

The key is to begin the conversation. In the end, if your spouse or roommate is still against getting a cat, you can soothe some of your cat craving by volunteering at a shelter or humane society.

Cat Aggression

Cats fight one another and us for many reasons, emotional and physical. Territorial, inter-male, and maternal aggression are a few of the most common. And, of course, sometimes it’s just overly rambunctious play. While solutions depend on the cause, here are some to consider:

  • Talk with your vet. Cats can become aggressive due to serious illness, so it’s vital to rule out a physical cause for a cat’s aggression.
  • Encourage appropriate play. When cats are aggressive toward a person, it’s usually because they’re frightened or they’re playing. To prevent a cat from playing rough, never use your hands or feet as playthings. Offer many toys and spend time playing with them with your cat. You might also consider adopting another cat as a playmate or providing a more stimulating environment, such as an outdoor enclosure.
  • Consider spaying and neutering. Intact males are more prone to aggressive behavior, and one intact cat can affect the behavior of others. So be sure all felines in a household are spayed or neutered.
  • Ease competition among cats. If you have more than one cat, you can prevent competition by providing multiple food and water bowls, and at least two litter boxes in different parts of the house.
  • Provide pheromones and perches. Encourage the cats in a multi-cat household to spread out by providing hiding spots and perches throughout the house. You can also buy artificial pheromones that mimic a natural cat odor (undetectable by humans); these can help cats stay calm.
  • Use short-term medication. Prescribed by your vet, these can help while you’re dealing with cat aggression. Never use over-the-counter medications -- especially those meant for humans -- unless recommended by your vet. Some drugs that are safe for humans can be fatal to cats.
  • Restrain, but don’t punish. Don’t hit your cat for being aggressive, as it will only spur more aggression, as well as fear. But don’t let cat aggression go unchecked, either. To stop a cat fight in progress, make a loud noise, squirt the cats with water, or throw something soft at them. Don’t try to pull apart two fighting cats.

Solving aggression problems between cats takes time. Enlisting the help of a family vet, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (ACVB), or a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) can make it easier.

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