Cat Woe

I’m in the midst of my least favorite kind of problem: something that Silas is completely wigged out over, and I can control neither it nor him.

The Cat.

Tabby cat

Image from Nikita, via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Silas hates cats. He was attacked by one once, but I honestly think he would have hated them anyway. My personal suspicion is that his lineage is largely composed of squirrel dogs. (Which are a real thing in the South, and many of them look like Silas.) He has more prey drive than I really know what to do with.

For his first two years, it wasn’t an issue. My neighbor had an enormous orange tabby who never dreamed of leaving his sunny spot on the patio. Unlike the old cat, her new cat happily scales the tree, runs across the garage roof, and does who knows what with her time.

Neighbor kitty is a problem, but not a big deal. Silas sees her run across the roof once a week or so. But, she has disrupted the delicate feral cat balance of the neighborhood, and we are now in the midst of some kind of kitty turf war.

One meow outside in the middle of the night, and Silas is done. Sunday night he stayed awake all night after the first sound, just in case the ENEMY returned.  Last night he panted and cried and barked for an hour. The irony of this is that Silas wins. The cat meows, Silas barks, and the cat goes away. But Silas can’t believe it.

Once Silas hears the cat, he is having a full-on panic attack. There’s no training in the world I can do that would get through to him. We don’t own our townhouse or have any control of our front yard. I haven’t seen anybody in our area feeding the cats. I never hear the cat during the daytime, or on any kind of predictable schedule.

Help me?

14 thoughts on “Cat Woe

    1. Serious business. I think we’ll have to move. 🙂

      There are really only two? Three? It apparently doesn’t take many to make a racket, even though they’ve been TNR according to my neighbor.


  1. White noise. Don’t laugh – but I actually have 3 box fans going at night – winter, summer, doesn’t matter. I’ve had to do it for all of my dogs because I have a corner house with a block fence and my bedroom is nearest the fence and let me tell you – sounds echo in my yard and can easily be heard inside as if the windows were wide open at times (at least according to the dogs I’ve had/fostered). So, enter box fans. Has worked for most noises – except really loud fireworks a few other really high decibel sounds.

    When I first started this method, I actually had to use ear plugs for myself because the noise of the fans bothered me. But now, I’m used to it. You probably don’t need 3 fans – just one going on high might do the trick – although with Silas’s extra large ears, you may want to consider two… 😉


    1. That’s a good idea. You are full of wisdom. I’ve tried running the radio, and while it helps Silas it keeps *me* awake all night. We do have a nice LOUD fan that we haven’t used since we moved here. Will try.


  2. I fostered a very sound sensitive dog for a while, and our behaviorist also recommended a white noise machine! In the meantime, here’s an article on cheap white noise sources to see if it might work for you guys:
    Also, this dog was particularly afraid of the sound of motorcycles/scooters driving by (even when we were inside), so I put the sound on cue (“Scooter treats!”) to counter condition it. This worked pretty well even though in the early stages there was no intensity low enough not to cause her to panic (adapted from a Patricia McConnell article on thunder phobia). I know this sounds really silly, but if you have netflix, maybe you could put My Cat from Hell on at a very low volume to jump start counter conditioning weird cat sounds?
    Hope this helps!


    1. Very helpful, thanks.

      With dog sounds Silas can tell the difference between the TV and real life, but he’s much touchier about cat sounds. Watching a cat show might help. Will look it up tomorrow.


  3. Wow, no fun. Damn kitties.

    I was going to suggest white noise as well. We have a very powerful fan we put in our windows at night. It sucks in the cool night air (one nice benefit of living north) and is noisy enough to mask almost any noise, including thunder.

    The kitties wouldn’t have a chance.


    1. I’m glad you guys all suggested the fan, because I hadn’t even thought of it. Even if it can’t block out the CAT, it might help Silas not obsess that every tiny sound afterwards is the enemy at the gates.


  4. Ruby has become increasingly noise-sensitive (mainly to barking dogs), I suspect as an unfortunate side effect of the window film…she can’t see them so she listens HARDER. I’ve considered one of these: – only kind of kidding. I’m interested to see if your sound file CC is helpful, because I probably need to do something like that. I was using the Through A Dog’s Ear CDs for a while when I left her home during the day, but I think her vigilance is tied to my presence. One of these days I’ll get a drop-cam to see if I’m right.

    ‘My Cat From Hell’ will provide lots of yowling felines for Silas and some entertainment for you. I find that show hilarious, mainly because the cat whisperer’s primary solution for any behavior issue is to build elaborate jungle gyms and new toys for the cat (and admittedly, it usually seems to work).


  5. Also, a motion sensor sprinkler for your yard. It won’t take long to teach the cats that your house is full of wet.


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