My cat is extremely frightened of a new cat in the neighbourhood. Is there anything I can do ?
You are not alone this is a very common problem. Cats are naturally very territorial and where there are lots of cats in a small area, there can often be conflict. Conflict between cats in a neighbourhood can result in behaviours that are obviously related to conflict, such as wounds from fighting, or urine spraying in areas where territories overlap. However, some cats respond to the close proximity of other cats by becoming very nervous or frightened. This may result in them being unwilling to venture outside. Being stuck inside can have other effects on their behaviour, such as toileting indoors, being more clingy, or showing more aggression. Cats that are frightened in this way may also develop abnormal behaviours such as overgrooming or over-eating.
It is very difficult to discourage another cat from coming into your garden: cats' territories do not necessarily conform to our garden or house boundaries and a cat will want to patrol round areas that he perceives as his own territory. If you know the owner of the other cat, it may be possible to arrange a 'time-share' system whereby your cats are allowed out at different times of day and hence do not meet each other.
Sometimes cats are wary of going out through a cat flap because it is very open and exposed on the outside and they feel vulnerable to attack. Providing your cat with some 'cover' such as some plant pots, just outside the door may be enough to help him to get outside safely.
If your cat is very fearful, and the other cat is coming into the house, it may be best to temporarily close off your cat-flap to prevent him coming in. This will make your cat feel much more secure within the house. In this case, you will need to make sure that your cat has lots to do inside - enriching the environment with toys, climbing frames, hiding places and puzzle feeders will make staying inside more fun.