Cats have many levels of co-operation with each other and each level boasts a mechanism by which they communicate and accept each other. When I’m not being long-winded I would simply say, Tinky did a poo on our welcome mat. In all fairness these little gems have appeared since we removed her from the A-Team, but I was deluding myself it was one of the others and not my scrupulously clean and reliable Tinky.

A lot of people freak out when their cats eliminate outside the box, some even re-home and get rid of the offenders. Well that’s just plain overreaction, not to mention selfish and reneging on the cat to love, care and understand your them when you brought him/her home. What you need to do is clean up the mess thoroughly and then look at your cat’s life through their eyes. What could be bothering them. Cats aren’t exactly trained spies and the problem is clear if you think through their day.

In our case, Tinky wanted acceptance from the group but she also wanted space. If Tinky was a human, she wouldn’t be much of a hugger and would prefer a brief handshake at least until she got to know you a lot better. On the other hand Basil is a huge hugger. Hugs and kisses are his norm. Victory too, greets very physically. Tinky, being more reserved takes these invasions of her space quite seriously and sees these physical forms of affection as a threat. They are after all invading her space and she sees this as acts of hostility from strangers.

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Tinky asleep here with a previous litter of kittens coming for some affection when they hope she won’t mind.

The usual growls don’t seem to put the offenders off and Tinky doesn’t want a confrontation so she leaves her poo as a message to the others that she’s here and wants to be accepted on her terms. No hugging. Cat hugging is different to our hugging, basically it’s a head bump and a rub against each other. A gesture too intimate for Tinky at this stage.

We knew Tinky was not getting any meaningful response initially from those offenders who were getting too close for comfort so leaving these messages in the same place at the same time every day went on for about 2 weeks.

Last night I heard growling only to step through the bedroom door and find Basil keeping his distance while Tinky was, having words with, Sally. Basil’s apprehension and reaction to Tinky’s growls mean that he’s tuned in and understands she wants space. We hope now these little messages from our usually fastidious litter box user stop soon.

A cat may eliminate if they are ill, under duress or just plain annoyed about something. It’s a pity to take a natural form of communication as an act of hostility and throw that animal out of our home, but it is the number one reason for re-homing cats across the world. When anyone takes in a pet, it should be on the understanding that the precious life you have adopted into your home is worth more than your material possessions. I’m not saying it’s not upsetting on some level when things are ruined, I am OCD after all, but on balance and in the big scheme of things the cats and their welfare matter more. Possessions can be replaced but each little life we meet, whom we pledge to provide for and protect when we take them home, is irreplaceable and priceless.