Wednesday, 17 February 2016

In Her Own Time

When it comes to animals, cats in particular (and, to an extent, dogs), it's very easy for us humans to take aggression at face value, when what the animal is truly experiencing is fear.

As we've already seen, any attempts to approach Gracie in those first few days were met with hissing and spitting. However, she never actually struck out at me. Her real message to me was 'keep away, I'm scared of you'... not 'keep away or I'll attack you'. I have no doubt that had I ignored her warning and tried to pick her up someone (probably me) would have been hurt in Gracie's attempt to get away to make herself safe. Although you may be getting desperate to give you new cat a cuddle, it's really important that you wait for the cat to initiate it. So, for now, no physical contact allowed (unless it comes from the cat, and that wasn't going to happen any time soon!).

Gracie spent a few more days wedged behind that bed and I was running low (on ideas, not patience - I have patience to infinity as far as cats are concerned).

The video I shared in the last post shows things were about as bad as they can get.

This was largely my fault. Standing over her when she felt threatened stressed her out. The penny dropped with me eventually (sorry Gracie).

Just as I thought things were never going to change, after days of exactly the same behaviour, something different happened.

I went into Gracie's room as normal only to find she wasn't in her usual spot.

Of course, the first thing I did was panic. Cats have a reputation for being able to find their way out of anywhere and I was sure she had finally outsmarted me in some way.

(A story about my cat Smudge that may amuse. I once had to get a urine sample from Smudge. To enable this to happen, given there were two other cats living in the house at the time, I shut Smudge in a room on his own with the litter tray. Sounds foolproof, doesn't it? Well I was the fool. Sometime later I returned to the room to find the door open, Smudge nowhere to be seen, Jasmine (one of my other cats) was in the room I'd left Smudge in and there was wee in the litter tray. It seems Jasmine had leapt at the door handle until it sprang open and released Smudge from his incarceration. As for the wee... as I didn't know which cat it had come from that had to be flushed. Cats: underestimate them at your peril).

Eventually, I found Gracie, here...

LESSON FOUR: Be grateful for even a tiny bit of progress

This may not seem like very much progress, but it was. Yes, she's still terrified, but she would have heard me coming up the stairs and didn't dart back to her usual 'safe' place. Something, albeit something very tiny, was different this time.

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