Cats like to establish their own territory, making it with their scent by rubbing their cheeks against objects and leaving visual clues by scratching objects with their claws. Usually this discourages other cats from invading their space, but in densely populated towns and cities, it can be difficult for them to avoid each other.
Typically when two cats come face to face, they will give each other space to avoid any conflict. However, some cats can be more confrontational and willing to stand their ground than others, and this is when fights can start.
Whether your cat fights with their new neighbour or not, the sudden appearance of another cat in their territory can be enough to cause them stress. This can lead to changes in their behaviour at home, such as going to the toilet outside their litter tray, showing aggressive behaviour or hiding more than usual.
While this can be frustrating for you, it’s important not to get angry at your cat or the other cat that’s causing the problems. Their need for territory is inbuilt and not something they can help so they are not being a bully or starting a fight out of spite. Punishing them will only make the problem worse so instead it’s up to you to find a solution. Here are some things you can try…
Get a microchip cat flap
If the other cat is coming into your house and causing your cat stress, then installing a cat flap that will only open for your cat will solve the problem. You can get cat flaps that only unlock for your cat’s microchip, or ones that will only open for a magnetic collar you can put around their neck.
Speak to the cat’s owner
If you can find out who the other cat belongs to, it might be worth talking to the owner to try and find a solution. For example, you could work out a time-share system, where they let their cat out in the morning and you let your cat out in the afternoon, meaning they won’t come into contact with each other. You could also find out if the other cat has been neutered. Neutered cats are less likely to roam across larger areas and fight with other cats, so if the owner would be happy to get them neutered this may solve the problem.
If the cat does not have an owner, you can contact Cats Protection for help. If the cat is a stray, we may be able to take them in and rehome them, and if they are feral we can get them neutered.
Build an enclosed catio
To prevent your cat from crossing paths with the other cat, you could completely enclose your garden with wire fencing to keep the other cat out. This may not be possible for everyone, so you could instead create a smaller enclosure within your garden that your outdoor cat can use. Ideally make sure it has some perches for your cat to get up high and survey their surroundings, as well as some places for them to hide if they feel stressed.
Create the perfect outdoor cat toilet
The presence of the other cat may cause your cat to become too scared to use their usual outdoor toilet spot, leading them to start going to the toilet indoors. As well as making sure they have a suitable indoor litter tray to use, you can also try creating a new outdoor toilet that is closer to the house, reducing the chance of them encountering the other cat. Dig a litter tray-sized hole and fill it with sand or fine soil and place some pot plants around it to give your cat privacy.
Give your cat some hiding places
When cats feel stressed or are worried about encountering another cat, they like to hide to help them feel safe. Give your cat lots of places to hide in the garden by planting tall plants, placing potted plants around the cat flap or even creating a little outdoor enclosure for them to hide inside. It’s also a good idea to create some hiding spots indoors too. Cardboard boxes are ideal for your moggy to shelter inside!
Cover the windows
Even when your cat is indoors, they may still be wary of the other cat looking through the windows at them. You could try covering the lower portion of windows with paper to block their view, or limit their access to the windowsill. Also avoid placing their food bowl, bed or litter tray next to windows or cat flaps, as they may be put off using them if the other cat is looking in.
Use a pheromone diffuser
To keep your cat calm when they are indoors, you can try using a plug-in pheromone diffuser such as Feliway Classic. This will fill your home with a scent they’ll find familiar, helping them to feel safe.
Encourage your cat to play
If your cat is reluctant to go outside, they may become restless being stuck indoors. Giving them opportunities to play will help to keep them active and engaged, reducing their stress and releasing happy hormones in their brain. Try getting them to chase a fishing rod toy or give them a puzzle feeder that gets them to work for their food.
For more help and advice about your cat’s behaviour, visit the Cats Protection website.