Preview of Coming Attractions

Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grief

About a dozen cats prowl the stables at Walking Horse Farm, only four of them have names. Lily (our silver tabby female), her identical brother Oliver, Moonpie and Pumpkin (all named by the tweenie girls that hang out at the stable). Lily and Oliver were abandoned by their mother at three weeks old. Candy, the riding instructor hand raised them. Moonpie and Pumpkin each materialized at different times, both as very young cats. The whole cuddly clan is under a year old. All of the older cats are truly feral.

Oliver cried for over 36 hours after I took his sister away. “It was a terrible noise and he just wouldn’t stop—not ‘til you brought his sister back.” Candy informed me. The two had never been apart before. He missed her and he was grieving.

I brought her back to the stable this morning, and we placed her in a dog kennel tucked inside a stable. Candy had placed fresh hay on the floor for the other cats to keep Lily company. It seems the perfect arrangement. They can’t disturb her sutures from the spay surgery, but she also won’t be alone.

Oliver wasn’t the only one crying over the last few days. I assumed the silver tabby was lonely and scared—but I overlooked the possibility that she was missing her brother, as I was so focused on protecting her from him.

In the stable, the other young cats cluster around her cage. I look forward to the time just a few weeks from now when they will all live together in peace. Then her brothers can truly be her protectors.

For the moment, she seems quite happy to be home.

While visiting the Nashville Cat Clinic last week, Dr. Marc Waldrop told me about a cat he had been treating for grief. In a two cat household, one of the cats had passed away. The remaining cat howled for days, stopped eating and began to die. The vet tried all sorts of medical interventions, prescribed play in the hopes of raising the cat’s serotonin levels, treated the cat with anti-depressants. “Nothing was working, the cat’s heart was literally failing. She was dying of a broken heart.” Dr.Waldrop explained. “Then the owner asked if it might help if she got the cat a stuffed animal. I didn’t think it would help, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.”

The woman brought home a life sized cat stuffed animal and her real cat took to it immediately, grooming it and dragging it around the house by its scruff. The two became inseparable. “Whenever she would bring the cat to board, she would ask if we had room for ‘Buddy’ too. We joked, hey, ‘Buddy’ doesn’t eat much and never poops—I don’t think it will be a problem.” The cat’s heart healed and it went on to live for a few more years—always with her Buddy.

No comments: