In a multitude of settings, cats have to learn to live with us human beings, and vice versa. We as humans need to protect and understand cats, and likewise house cats can and should be trained and cared for so that their undesirable behaviour is managed. Recently we came across a few examples where the human-feline interaction is undesirable.
Firstly, with pet cats. There are certain things that us humans will find undesirable, such as inappropriate toilet behaviour, and scratching of furniture. Both problems can be solved, and if the problems are instead left to be, then your house will be in a mess. We recently visited a house where there were too many cats, that the litter boxes simply weren’t enough per cat. The cats decided to defecate around the house. They also clawed most of the furniture.
To solve these problems so that humans and felines are doing well in the same household, there needs to be enough clean litter boxes for your cats. Even single cats benefit from having more than one toilet, as they will not likely use a dirty one. If you cannot accomodate the space for enough litter boxes, then you may have too many cats. Otherwise, set up toilets in places where the cats seem to enjoy using, and clean the toilet at least once a day. You will know if there are not enough clean litter boxes in your household, when your cats are doing their business outside of it, where they consider clean – free of other animals’ scents, without others watching, and away from where they sleep and eat.
With furniture, this can be solved by providing adequate cat furniture – scratching posts, igloos, beds, cat towers. Cats have the instinct to climb and scratch, so if these are not provided, they will definitely turn to human furniture to do these basic activities. They also have a need to feel safe, which is why they enjoy climbing on top of things (to be safe from predators pouncing on them) and often like to sleep in corners. If you have enough cat furniture for your cats, with training they will stay away from your furniture. This way, when you say no to your cats when they try to claw your furniture or climb on kitchen counters, it is still humane as they can still do these things elsewhere.
As for stray cats that share our neighbourhood spaces, us humans also need to behave ourselves so that these cats will not cause any trouble. For example, when you walk your dogs, don’t invite them to chase stray cats. When cats retaliate in self-defense, they may scratch your dog, or even you. Also, children should be taught to treat cats with kindness by not scaring them or bullying them. It is okay for children to talk to stray cats, but not so if they start scaring them by shouting, hitting or stomping their feet on the ground loudly. If cats have been bullied by humans, they are likely to become more anti-social and will become difficult for cat volunteers to manage.
Cats are unlikely to cause much trouble to humans as strays. If they do, it is because they need to be sterilised. (Read here for an article on how to go about getting your neighbourhood cats sterilised.) Usually, when neighbours complain about cats being noisy or dirty, the authorities bring in the cats to be killed.
What we do is to talk to our neighbours often. Ubi is a very homely place, so that is not difficult for us. We often educate the neighbours we meet about the cats they see and know, so that they can understand feline behaviour better. This is of course of no use if you as an animal lover sets a bad example by littering after feeding strays, or being rude to people. Your neighbours are more likely to enjoy and care for animals if your own household is clean and neat, and if you are nice and friendly to people and children. If you are a good neighbour, your cats will be regarded as good neighbours too.