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A little over a year ago, a cat showed up on our doorstep. Since then, we've taken her in and she lives with us. She spends most of her time indoors, but she doesn't have a litter box, as she goes outside to do her business. Since she was most likely feral, we took her to the vet to get her shots and be spayed, but they found that she had actually already been spayed. She's pretty skittish, but will meow at us when she wants to be petted while she eats.

The issue is that when there are other cats outside, she makes some pretty horrendous sounds. The hissing is fine, but other times it sounds like she is dying. In general, she tends to appear as the aggressor, as I haven't seen any of the cats outside act threatening toward her really. What can my family and I do to help her not feel so threatened or scared by cats outside?

  • Get a litter box and keep her inside. It's only a matter of time before those aggressions you're hearing are amplified to fights that can cause serious injury. – Allison C Apr 22 at 17:44
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If she spent long enough as a stray to learn to feed herself, she also learned the importance of defending her territory—and her food supply. That is a hard lesson to unlearn since it literally saved her life at one point. She now sees your home as part of her territory, but she still won't want other cats getting too close and perhaps taking it from her. After all, it has a source of food she doesn't even have to work for!

The good news is that solitary predators (including all cats except female lions) really, really do not like fighting. All the noise, swipes, etc. might lead you to believe otherwise, but in general these are attempts to intimidate the other party into leaving without a fight. However, an actual fight risks injury that could leave them unable to hunt, turning what seems minor into something fatal. Only disease (e.g. rabies), mating or protecting their young will override this instinct. And since she's vaccinated and fixed, none of those should apply.

So, if she really wants to be an outdoor cat, and there are other cats in the area, you need to accept that occasional noise will be part of that and not something to seriously worry about unless she returns home injured—at which point she will probably be more willing to become an inside cat.

I would, however, recommend a microchip activated cat flap so she can retreat inside at any time she truly feels threatened without the risk of another persistent (or just curious) cat following her in.

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