Sun, 25 Feb 2007

Pissy Cat has left the building

Well we hope so, anyway. Junior was the runt of his litter and for a long time had the title of "ugliest cat in the world", his face was so crumpled and the black patches on his otherwise white body so oddly arranged. He's part Siamese, though the genes mostly expressed in his thin and tapering black tail - if it wasn't for that you wouldn't know. As such he's intelligent and actually a really nice little cat, and his face has filled out now that he is mature. But as a crypto-Siamese he's also quite sensitive and very demanding if you indulge him too much (his other, more usual, title was "Pest"). As a runt, he's always been on the bottom of the local cat pecking order.

Where we lived before was in a small close so our four or five cats ruled the area, and had very little competition. Two of them, the females, who had been used to being single cats beforehand, didn't move with us as they chose to go and find obliging pensioners with a ready can-opener, who would keep them in single pampered luxury. We even met one of the new cat-slaves when they came round to see whose cat had moved in with them.

Here, the remaining three boys are just a few of a large number of felines. Some of the competition were here first and had territory already - others we think are new themselves, but far more alpha-cat than our easy-going middle-aged batchelor crew. So there's been a lot of spraying in the garden, on the bins and by the the back door - anything which sticks out a bit basically - which we have to clean regularly otherwise ours (even though all neutered in childhood) start marking indoors to compensate.

Since Mitsi decided to move in, the former Pest has been struggling to keep his place in the cat tree. She was only six months old at the time and wandered around the house laying kitten ambushes for the staid older trio. They did not like this and generally treated her with suspicion and ran away from her (I said they were easy going). Junior, as the youngest, was especially unimpressed with being pounced on and fought with by a kitten - which might seem odd because it's only a year or so since he stopped trying to play-fight himself with his older part-siblings. But you can't fight time or nature, and to protect himself Junior became quite dominant towards the young female Mitsi, hissing and cuffing and even chasing her whenever their paths crossed.

Since Mitsi had her kittens last week, the Pest now has a bad case of jealousy. Apart from all the interest in her, as a nursing mum she gets extra food, a box by the radiator, and she has these odd small things which do nothing but squirm around and sound like squeaky toys all the time. He doesn't know what to do but he's anxious, so for the last week the house has stunk of male cat pee.

We weren't sure it was him though we had our suspicions, but we couldn't find who was doing it or where, as it was always done at night or other times when nobody was about. Even though they're all neutered and shouldn't be able to spray like a real tom, it's still so pungent that after a few hours diffusing, you can't really narrow down on it. It came to a head when male cat pee appeared on my desk sides and top yesterday (Mitsi's kitten box is also in the study so it was a clear territorial challenge to her). Last night I finally caught Pissy Cat in the act down in the cellar - so I rubbed his nose in it, gave him a comforting stroke, then threw him out, with the cat flap locked on "exit only". It may sound cruel but it's how you train real kittens so I hope it will work for our arrested-kittenhood adult boy.

Today I've been giving him extra fuss and attention to build up his confidence. Nothing like a bit of fuss from the real alpha male in the house to bolster your self-importance :-) And there has been no repetition yet today - it looks hopeful that we can train Pissy Cat out of this bad habit.

We've cleaned and covered up the smell with Jeyes Fluid, to stop him or the others trying to re-mark where they smell his old marks. "I love the smell of Jeyes Fluid in the morning, it smells like Freedom". I also rubbed some very very dilute mixture on my fingers and stroked him with it, on the back of the neck where he can't lick. So now he's marked with our scent, the clean disinfectant scent of the house collective. I expect we'll still have a bit more piss to clean up, but now we know who it is I hope we can solve it.

Next to tackle is his new found habit of dumping his, err, dumps on the lawn, rather than under the massive laurel bush which I tried to teach him when we moved in. After a winter unmown, it's now grass with an unhealthy covering of smelly cat dung. But one thing at a time otherwise he'll get too stressed again !