Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Two Steps Back

After nine days and very little progress, and with concerns about her weight because she wasn't coming out to eat frequently enough, I decided to make Gracie's world a bit smaller by moving her to a different, smaller room.

The house I lived in at the time had three bedrooms, and the second bedroom had frequently been used as a kind of 'cat triage' for new arrivals. It was a straight-forward 3x3 metres, with a wall cupboard that cats can also access.

We moved Gracie, her food and water bowls, toys, scratching post and litter tray, to the new location sure it would help.

It didn't.

If anything, it made the situation worse.

In the living room she had been able to hide underneath the sofa. In the bedroom there was nothing to hide underneath (I bought her one of those 'crinkle tunnels' that my shy cat Betty used to hide out in, but Gracie ignored it).

It was my intention to leave her well alone for most of the day, popping in every couple of hours or so to sit and read, and talk quietly, so Gracie could become accustomed to my voice. I'm not sure whether this helped at all.

The first time I popped my head around the door for a 'sitting quietly session' I panicked. I couldn't find Gracie anywhere in the room. There seemed to be nowhere she could get out (the room was on the first floor and the windows and door were secure).

I searched the 3x3 metre space for some time before I finally found her. Gracie had gone behind the single 'day bed' and squashed herself down as flat as possible in an effort to remain concealed. When I finally spotted her I was very relieved. However, it was plain to see that she was terrified. Any attempt to approach or communicate with her was met with this...

Loud, isn't it? That is the sound of a cat saying 'If you come near me I will attack'. It's a defensive sound, a combination of a hiss and a spit.

While I wasn't attempting to touch Gracie, I was committing one of the cardinal sins against cats.

LESSON THREE: Don't stand over a nervous cat

Cats like to have something above them, but that something shouldn't be your face. Because of where she was (lodged between the radiator and the back of the day bed) I was unable to approach her except from above. At least when she was under the sofa I'd seemed less menacing to her.

So now we had reached an impasse.

I tried to show Gracie that I was there to help her by offering her some tasty food (she must have been so hungry). However, her desire to stay where she was was far more powerful than her desire to eat.

Notice Dreamies and catnip on the window sill. She showed no interest in either.

Gracie was still coming out to eat in the dead of night, but she wasn't socialising. There is an argument that as long as she was eating and drinking she was okay, but a domesticated cat absolutely must be comfortable with human interaction. I would need to administer her flea treatments and take her to the vet for vaccinations and check ups in the future without so much drama. Moreover, Gracie deserved to be happy and to have a quality of life that enabled her to do cat things. This wasn't living, it was existing.

We still had some way to go.

Please support Wood Green, The Animals Charity by sponsoring my Fire Walk (16th April 2016). Even if you can only spare £1. Wood Green will make your money go a long way towards helping the unwanted animals in their care.

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