Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 2017

The Wilbourn Way Blog 

(aka Cats on the Couch)  

Dear Readers,

Choupette is Karl Lagerfeld's Mega, Mega Bucks Cat, who is in her own room with her own maid at the Mercer Hotel.
Read more

Cats And Other Jet-Setting Animals Get A Chance To Be Pampered at The Ark At JFK

Adoptapalooza  -- NYC's Original Mega Pet Adoption Event
Join the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. Look for me and Orion's robotic cat-mate.

Bring along your questions. You might have a question about the best match for your current animal companion. I will be available for Reiki treatments for adoptees.

Sunday, May 21, 12 - 5 p.m.
Union Square Park , NYC 

Bergenfield Library 
Please join me and Ziggy-Star-Dust, my robotic feline co-speaker at the Bergenfield Library
Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m.  

An Interview With The World's Longest-Running Cat Whisperer  
Click here for the VegNews article

Beasts of Burden by Sunaura Taylor 
A beautifully written, deeply provocative inquiry into the intersection of animal and disability liberation and the debut of an important new social critic."  Read more

Subscribe to Carole's free monthly Blog -- The Wilbourn Way 

Carole's Take On Oscar The Cat Who ..... 

Charlie Doesn't Like Me
(The Automatic Hiss)  
Charlie didn't move away
Charlie was now in his third foster home. Barri had adopted Charlie, a 9 year old cat, a few weeks ago. Dr. Chiverton at Westside Vet Center, where I am in residence, referred her to me because Charlie was "unavailable". He hung out under her bed and emerged when she was at work or asleep. When she tried to make contact with him, he hissed and turned his back on her. Barri wanted the relationship to work, but not if he was unhappy with her, and would be better with someone else. Maybe he was gender specific and preferred guys. 

A Break Through
My session with Charlie took place in his signature spot -- under Barri's bed. That is, we stretched out beside the bed, so he still had his secure spot, but we could see each other. I had Barri talk to him and gifted Charlie with an orange ball which she rolled his way. 

"This is a first," said Barri. "He actually batted it with his paw and didn't move away. It must be a combination of the music in the background, the brief Reiki treatment you gave me, and how you got me to talk about how much I liked Charlie and wanted this relationship to work."
Charlie connected with his orange ball

I nodded and explained how as her body relaxed, Charlie sensed the feeling and was able to unwind. "He's off to a good start," I said, "and we'll give him all the help he needs to sustain this break-through and move ahead."

Charlie's PTSD
Charlie's "fear of intimacy" and even casual contact are symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. His abandonment was a definite source of trauma -- enough to cause muscle memory to replay this trauma whenever he felt threatened or stressed. Not every abandoned cat experiences PTSD, so evidently, besides Charlie's emotional fragility, there were other traumas that added to Charlie's fearfulness.

The next day Barri texted that she heard from Charlie's previous foster guardian. Charlie was reclusive with him too. His hiss was his signature. So Charlie didn't favor guys. What was my take on his automatic hiss that made her feel so rejected and threatened?

OCD Hiss
I told Barri that it was Charlie's cat-speak. Once he started to hiss, he became overstimulated and couldn't, wouldn't stop. Whereas, many times a cat will give an initial hiss to test the catmosphere, Charlie couldn't find the pause or stop button. You could label it OCD  -- obsessive compulsive disorder. Barri shouldn't feel rejected or threatened. Charlie's hiss was his verbal m.o. It was only the tip of Charlie's template to be unraveled and understood. We would do what was best for Charlie and Barri.

Lucia's Catcentric Behavior
Lucia had Karin and Dan puzzled. It was all about Lucia's felt mouse. At the end of each
day, Lucia would drop her mouse into her water bowl. So Karin would retrieve the mouse, dry it off and leave it where Lucia would find it so she could carry on her mouse play. They wanted to know if there was any particular reason for her catcentric behavior and would it be best to let Lucia retrieve her drenched mouse? 
I told them it was all about nesting. Lucia interacts with her mouse as she would if it were her very own kitten. So let's call it her surrogate babe. During the day she cares for her surrogate and carries it about as she pleases.
Nesting her felt mouse

At the end of each day, she tucks it into a given secure spot, her water bowl, where she feels it will be safe and retrievable. She somehow doesn't object to their intervention or she would seek out a new nest.

Tiger And Our New Baby  
Tiger naps despite his cone
"Take a look at Tiger," said Peter, one of my trainers at the Apple Store, as he flashed Tiger's selfie on his new Apple iPhone. He went on to say that the *plastic cone on Tiger's neck kept him from chewing on an injured paw. Tiger was able to undo the gauze that kept the cone in place, until Peter replaced the gauze with a small collar. But Peter would remove the cone whenever Tiger ate his three squares.

Our Baby Is Intrigued By Tiger
I had written about Tiger's bizarre behavior pre-baby (Read more  Scroll through to Tiger's Talk Is In The Baby Subtext) so Peter updated me on the budding relationship. He told me how their baby girl, who is now several months, was in the midst of a crying jag, but stopped almost on a dime, when Tiger appeared. My reaction was that Tiger's presence changed her focus -- she logged in to a happier site.

Tiger Forgives Baby's Mis-Pet
Another time when Tiger was near the baby, she excitedly grabbed for him and lightly smacked his nose. His response was a sharp, fleeting meow, and he pranced away. Tiger couldn't have been too bothered or he would have darted -- not pranced. The next time the baby reached out for Tiger, Peter had the baby pet him with the back of her hand which was more friendly, less invasive. I'd call it a happy stroke.
Checking on baby. Perhaps she made a sound
Prevent New Baby Angst
"And we did repeatedly thank Tiger for his suggestion to add a baby to our family, as you recommended," said Peter. "I thought it was a bit odd at the time but I have to tell you he looked our way, his fur appeared to soften, and his whiskers plumed. You explained how he wouldn't understand our words, but his cat sense would trigger that he was in charge and prevent him from feeling left out or rejected -- which could lead to misbehavior.  Anyway, all is well with our family!"

*If your cat objects to a plastic cone, there are soft fabric cones available online or at the drugstore.

Orion's Catitudes
(Orion, a recovering feral rescue gives his cat-speak and ©whisker waves on cat issues)

Touch Therapy 
Orion likes the way Eli makes sure he connects with his person's hand as he stretches out. This contact adds to Eli's bliss.
Touch therapy for Eli
My friend the masseur

Orion's whisker waves to deserving honorees

This was one of Orion's faves from cyberspace. He sends a ©whisker wave to the tolerant kitty
The tail's the spot
Blizzard Stella rescues
Orion sends kudos to the vet tech who took these rescued kittens home for their many daily feedings -- when the hospital became short staffed due to blizzard Stella 

Myanmar rescues

And to the rescuers of the kittens in Myanmar

And Orion always has a ©whisker wave for cats and fitness fun -- or toy therapy. Click here or on the image below.

TNR Specialty Training Workshops 

Orion, a recovering feral rescue, knows these workshops are forever indispensable.
Read more

Shared Feline Bedtime Is Prime Time 
Lexi cares for Pepper but .....
(Indiscriminate Urination)
"It's all about your bed," I said to Suzie, who had consulted me about her cat, Lexi, who had "tinkled" on her couch.

Lexi Bonded With Pepper
A vet visit found no medical issues, so Suzie knew it was connected to Lexi's relationship with Pepper, her companion cat. Suzie had adopted Pepper, a four year old neutered male, from a shelter several months ago. Evidently, Lexi, one year younger, preferred older males as she meticulously groomed Pepper and slept with him during the day. Suzie had a cat-loving roommate whom Lexi sometimes hung out with, but Pepper clung to Suzie.

Pepper Claimed Lexi's Bed Spot
Suzie mentioned that Lexi used to sleep at the foot of her bed but when Pepper claimed that spot, Lexi slept around -- with a very rare appearance on Suzie's bed.
....  there are bed issues
"But if it's all about my bed, why didn't Lexi tinkle on my couch sooner?" said Suzie. "What took her so long to object? I don't get it."
Bed Angst
I explained that Lexi's "incident" was a symptom of angst. It took awhile for Lexi to have such an un-cat-like, deviant reaction.  
Because the chemistry for Lexi's relationship with Pepper was such a plus, so positive, Suzie's bed was a back issue for Lexi. But as time went on, the initial newness and fun of the relationship leveled off. As Pepper became more intimate with you, Lexi felt rejected. She probably displayed signs of angst that were too subtle to notice.

"I see," said Suzie. "So what to do? If Pepper is bed-banned, I'll have two anxious cats."

Treatment To Resolve Bed Angst

  • As your roommate is cat-friendly, arrange for her to feed the cats and entice Pepper to enter her room with toys, catnip and whatever Pepper favors. She should mention Lexi's name whenever she interacts with Pepper so Lexi feels acknowledged and included. 
  • Your roommate can leave her door open at night so Pepper can join her at will. 
  • Carry or invite Lexi to sleep with you at bedtime, provide a second litter box and close the door. 
  • If Lexi jumps off the bed and hovers by the door, open the door so she can move on. If Pepper enters your bedroom and takes her place on your bed, but Lexi is nowhere to be seen, firmly but gently, show Pepper the door, and close it. Either Lexi sleeps on your bed, or they both sleep elsewhere. 
  • You can repeat this process the following two nights. But the objective is for you not to be sleep deprived, and eventually, a new angst-free bed arrangement will emerge. 
  • Arrange daily private time with Lexi so she regains her number one position. This doesn't mean that you can't love Pepper, but Lexi was there first.

"Okay," said Suzie. "In the meantime I'll leave a tarp on the couch and praise them when they use the box."  She realized it would take time and repetition. But now she was in touch with Lexi's feelings and felt her roommate would go along with the plan.

As I sent off Lexi's case report to Dr. Dougherty of The Cat Practice I reminisced. This was the practice I had co-founded with Dr. Paul Rowan so many years ago. Today Dr. Dougherty is Director and runs a fine practice which is popular and thriving. 

Pepper blisses out with a nip-covered toy

(For more information on indiscriminate urination Read more -- See Tinkling On The Sofa)

A Free Consultation With The Cat Therapist