Cats are very photosensitive animals. Decreasing daylight causes intact females to slow down or even shut off estrus or heat cycles. No sense in having a litter of kittens born at Christmas time and then freeze over the long winter! Most cats get that “hunker down for winter” mentality in the fall. Conversely, as the days start to lengthen in February and March, females begin heat cycles and males start to claim larger territories. Even though your cats are neutered, their brains still recognize these changes and territorial issues will arise with our indoor cats.
Many cats feel stress during this time of year, and stress related diseases such as Herpes virus infections and urinary tract issues are common in the early spring. You do want to make sure that in the multiple cat household, everyone is respecting the others’ space and territory. If there seems to be constant “nagging” of one cat towards another, enforcing a routine amount of “alone time” can go a long way in defusing some situations. Establishing an area of the house for one cat to have exclusive territory can reduce the likely hood of inappropriate elimination problems. Making sure that each cat has the opportunity to use the litter-box without confronting other cats is a must.
We often see cats this time of year with conjunctivitis and upper respiratory symptoms. This can be secondary to allergies, just like us humans, or often it is a flare up of their own herpes virus infections. Stress allows the herpes virus to multiply and it re-infects the eyes and nose of many cats. Some of these cats do need the symptoms treated to keep them comfortable and eating well.
There are outdoor influences that can affect your indoor cat. Outdoor cats that are claiming larger territories can often come up on decks or window sills and threaten your indoor cat. This can be intimidating for a cat that rarely or never interacts with another cat. Some cats will start to mark territory in a house just because an outside cat has approached. It is important to try and keep aggressive cats away from windows and decks with sliding glass doors from which they can attack.
We all enjoy these lovely days of spring! Remember that your cats might need some extra attention this time of year. An increase in play time will help use up some of their increased activity. We all need to show our cats what behaviors are deemed acceptable and avoid the ones that cause trouble! Chasing the laser pointer dot should be a routine part of every cat’s activity time, but remember to have it lead to some food so they finally get to catch and eat it! We want them to enjoy the Spring-time hunt!