DEAR JOAN: I have a cat that was a stray about 8 years ago. He was neutered back then.
I had three other males, but they have since passed away. I now have three females — two of which live outdoors — and one male that is strictly indoors.
When I had the other cats, the stray, BoyBoy, started spraying and was no longer allowed indoors. Is there a chance I can bring him in again? He did use the litter box long ago.
Online they have all kinds of expensive remedies but I’m leery of those cures. I really like BoyBoy and would love to bring him out of the cold and rain. Any ideas?
Debbie, Bay Area
DEAR DEBBIE: It sounds like BoyBoy’s spraying issue from the past could be related to his trying to stake out his territory. If you had the other males in the household before welcoming BoyBoy in, he might have felt threatened by the others and was asserting himself.
Even though you have fewer male cats, BoyBoy might still feel the need to mark his territory if your indoor male has already staked his claim. The only way to know for sure is to give it a try.
Now that BoyBoy is older and has been around the household for a number of years, he might not feel the need to spray.
Start out slowly by putting your other cat in a back room and let BoyBoy inside to roam around and put down some scent markers by rubbing his chin on things. Make sure he knows where the litter box is — if he used it before, he’ll know what it’s for.
Allow BoyBoy to get comfortable with his new surroundings before letting your other cat out. Find a neutral spot — away from the litter box and away from feeding areas — to make the first introduction. Give both cats your equal attention. Play with them and encourage them to play games together, but keep it low key.
If both are comfortable with the situation, you shouldn’t have a problem.
DEAR JOAN: I was hoping you could help me identify the animal that left their calling card in our backyard. We live in Albany and our yard is enclosed with 6-foot fences.
I’ve asked for help on our neighborhood internet group, but no one has been able to positively identify the animal, although I have had lots of funny suggestions. It looks too big to be from a cat, raccoon or opossum and I couldn’t find paw prints in the surrounding tan bark.
Debra Kagawa, Bay Area
DEAR DEBRA: Based on its unusual shape, my first guess was a giant chocolate Easter Peep, so I turned to the folks at a Facebook page called “Animals Don’t Cover Their Tracks: Animal Track Identification Help Group.” These folks seriously know their animal foot prints, scat and other identifying marks.
They identified the mystery scat as belonging to an opossum. One member even called opossum poop the “holy grail” of scat, because it can be so difficult to find in the wild.
The defining clue, however, would be the smell. Opossum poo apparently can peel the paint off a 1953 straight-8 Buick Road Master. So if your Peep-shaped dropping smelled worse than you could ever imagine, it belonged to an opossum.
Why did my neutered tom cat spray in the house?