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Report from behaviourist re Intro`s

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I finally got it but Ive been too buisy to type it but I thought some people
may find it interesting/useful.

The problem:

When treating fear in cats it is important to be very positive and very sympathetic to their anxieties - they must never feel forced to confront their fears ( eg by shutting the door to trap them in, or by carrying them in ). This is because cats are naturally independant creatures and like to feel in control of their envoiroment. If they don`t have this control they begin to feel fearful.

If Kitty ever feels forced or pressurized into making a decision ( eg. to come inside ) he may panic. Unfortunatley, the feeling of extreme panic is so unpleasant to a cat that even if no one actually hurts or threatens him, the feeling itself will be enough to put him off the indoor experience.

Kittys treatment will therefore involve a variety of tips and techniques aimed at gradually re-integrating him to the home so he doesn`t feel overwhelmed. He must always feel the decision is his - you can encourage him, but don`t try to make the decision for him. Always make sure he is aware of his escape route!

Just like when we choose a place to live, cats will weigh up the pros and cons of staying in a particular place. The following report will therefore focus on these two issues - introducing more positive experiences and limiting the negative ones, so the balance tips in your favour.

It is very important to remember that Kittys behaviour is completly normal for a cat used to living on his own. Unlike dogs who crave social contact, cats are very independant animals, and although they can learn to tolerate anouther animal introduced later, they find the disruption to their routine distressing.

House division
Kitty may be becoming tense as soon as he steps through the cat flap. This is why he has decided to move out for a lot of the day!

However, this tense attitude means he is expecting trouble - and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for him. He must learn to be comfortable once again in the home environment before you bring Maisie into it.

It is important also that he is able to establish some quality time with you. At the moment he is able to receive very few rewards from you and this is hightening his anxiety.

Divide the house so that he has access to the downstairs hall, lounge and kitchen area. For the time being Maisie can have the bedroom.

Encourage him using food rewards and stroking to feel more comfortable in the lounge again.

Also encourage him to step closer to Maisies area by feeding him treats beside the bedroom door. This will encourage him to become aware of maisie and her smell during a positive experience ( as opposed to being able to totally ignore and avoid her).

The more often he can be aware of her presence, but have no contact forced upon him, the better.

Once this room allocation is complete, you will be able to follow through the other sections as well as help develop his confidence. It is important before continuing that he is confident in his own space once more.

At a later date, use a gate instead of a solid door barrier so that they can smell and see each other more clearly, but again without the actual contact.

Be particularly cautious around areas such as the cat-flap and front hall area. You may need to spend some extra time giving Kitty treats etc. This is because it is a classic place for an 'ambush'. Kitty will therefore be cautious about entering because he cannot clearly see who is waiting on the other side and knows he will be in a confined space. When first trying to encourage him inside again, you may need to leave the door open so he can see clearly. Also propping the cat-flap open so he can smell clearly through it may help.

When you do start allowing them more contact together or allowing Maisie access to other areas of the house, try to develop a strict daily routine. Cats who are uncomfortable with each other often cope by learning how to avoid each other, 'timesharing' the home. This is only possible if a strict routine makes it possible for them to predict each others behaviours.

If you begin to bring Maisie out for short periods into Kittys space as your training progresses, again try to do this on a clear routine. The more predictable you can keep Kittys life, the calmer he will behave.

( Oh my goodness! I`ve never typed so much before! I will continue later if anyone is interested because it`s giving me squiffy eyes now )
post #2 of 2
This was interesting - thanks for sharing.

P.S. I would think your fingers are worn out from all of the typing.
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