Inadvertently started a turf war, and now my cat's taken off! HELP!
Okay, here's the story…
My cat Niko, a 12 y/o fixed male, lives with my mom at the moment, as I currently can't afford to keep him on my own. I also live with a roommate with a dog. :p
Niko's always been an outdoor cat, but has also always returned home after his daily outings. About 3 weeks ago, he started behaving differently. He stopped returning home for days at a time, and when he would come back into the house, he seemed a little lost. Not sick or in distress, but a little dazed.
About a week ago, an elderly lady who lives at the end of the block came to my mother's house and informed her that Niko's been visiting her (along with another cat) and staying with her for the past while (he's collared and licensed, so I guess she tracked down his home info). She had a cat that died a year ago with whom Niko and this other cat were friendly, apparently. So she's been feeding him and letting him stay with her. She seems to respect that he's got a home, and told my mother that she didn't want us to worry and think that he's lost. The fact that this lady made the effort to inform my mother about his whereabouts makes me think that she's not trying to "steal" him from us, otherwise she would not have tracked my mother down. Niko's close to home, but refuses to come back. The last time he came around the house, my mother said that he was giving her the cold shoulder and not even coming inside the house, and he'd move away when she tried to pet him. I also noticed that our other cat, a fixed, 8 y/o female, was biting us a lot, something she doesn't do.
I did find out, however, that my mom had been letting her next door neighbour's cat, also a (HUGE!) fixed male, inside the house for visits recently. I'm about 99% certain that Niko's change in behaviour, as well as our other cat's sudden aggression, has stemmed from the other cat making himself at home in my mother's house, leaving his scent on things, and eating all of our cats' food. Niko probably felt displaced and jealous, and thus sought an environment where he knew there'd be no threat to his territory from another cat. After I told my mom my theory, she stopped letting the neighbour's cat inside, but Niko hasn't come around in a while.
How can we entice Niko back and assure him that we haven't replaced him, and that his home is still his home, and that he's our #1 boy?