From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Repeat after me: Cats are Friends, not Food

Cookie learning how to cheer for the Irish Rugby team
Cookie has been with us for nearly three months now.   She’s told us a lot about her background.

She lived indoors – she’s fairly well house-trained, and knows all about cleaning up while someone’s cooking
She was a city girl – she’d never seen horses, cows or chickens before
She was beaten - raise a finger to her and she cowers pathetically
She was walked on a leash – she gets soooo excited when we pick up the leash, and has done since she arrived
She was never told how to behave on a leash – she thought that pulling, zig-zagging and playing tug-o-war with the leash are all acceptable behaviours.
She was allowed to jump on the furniture – ahum, she still is
She may have had the company of other dogs – she socializes fairly well with other dogs, especially youngsters like Roxy who will play with her
She did not grow up with cats.  This is a problem.

Unfortunately she thinks cats are her natural prey.

Skinny Cat (left) and
Fat Cat (right)

Our team of mouse and bird eradication experts, Fat Cat and Skinny Cat, were not at all impressed with this notion.  Initially, they avoided her at all costs, no doubt hoping she was a short term visitor.  However, when she’d been with us about a month, they seemed to accept the fact that she is here to stay, and they became actively involved in her rehabilitation.

Fat Cat teaching Cookie not to get
so excited when he appears at the door!

In the beginning, if either cat appeared at the back door, Cookie would go berserk, leaping at the glass panel on the door.  Our routine in the early days was to keep her in her crate while they were fed, so the cats would wait until she was locked in and then stroll in for their food, casting furtive glances in her direction, leap up onto the counter where we feed them, stuff their faces and then leave via the window.

On one occasion, Cookie was in the kitchen with me and the cats were in the counter top in the back kitchen, eating their breakfast.  I opened the door between the two rooms a bit too casually – Cookie shot past me and launched herself at the counter top, to the horror of the two cats who quickly leaped out the window.  Too late, I realized the window was wide enough to fit Cookie – like a flash, she was through it and happily pursuing Skinny Cat, who had taken to the trees at the back of the garden.  It took twenty minutes to catch her again.  She is impossible to catch in these circumstances – she’s in hunting mode and ignores all calls, whistles and treats – see “Poor Cookie needs her Freedom.  Yeah, right” for one such story!

We kept the window shut after that, but we had a couple of similar incidents when she burst past someone at one of the exterior doors and had a chance to go “catting."

So we have learned to be much more careful with doors, and we’ve also spent a lot of time teaching her to sit and wait when a door is opened, and to go through only when invited.  Progress has been made, but she needs to be reminded constantly to "wait" and we still keep her on a leash outside at all times.

The cats slowly became more confident with her, starting with Fat Cat.  She’d be rigid with tension, in an “I’m going to eat you” sort of stance, and he would stroll casually up to her, rub himself under her chin, and even lie down in front of her.  This behaviour absolutely flummoxed Cookie.  She’d end up turning her head away – avoidance?  I’m not sure.

When Skinny Cat saw his brother’s success with her, he got much braver too, and would also approach her when she was out on the lead, but with slightly less confidence.  

Skinny Cat approaching bravely

Cookie looking puzzled

However, things were still not great indoors – the cats were wary of her and she was constantly trying to break into the back kitchen where they were being fed. 

Our breakthrough came via something we’d seen on “The Dog Whisperer”.  In order to emphasise the structure of the pack, the pack leader takes the pack and sits them all together, on a rock, hilltop - whatever.  We saw Cesar Milan do this with a group of three dogs who lived together but did not get on well together.  He sat them all on a bench in the garden and made them stay there.  Their initial tension turned to relaxation and they lay down together comfortably after a few minutes.

Thanks to our very placid Fat Cat, we were able to do this with Cookie.  As usual, she was straining at the end of the leash to get up to the counter where the cats were.  Skinny Cat looked dubiously at her and made for the top of the cupboard, but Fat Cat stayed put.  We sat Cookie up on top of the washing machine and brought over Fatty, who settled down nonchalantly beside her.  Cookie’s expression says it all – she was utterly confused, but after a couple of minutes, she sniffed Fatty, looked up at Skinny, yawned and relaxed.

I’d love to be able to say this has solved all of her feline hang-ups, and it has surely helped enormously, but she still has issues.  She still gets hyper when the cats appear at the door or the window.  She fixates on them in the garden when she first sees them, but then they stroll up and wrap themselves around her, so she then fixates on any cat-shaped shadows under the bushes - just in case there's any other cats hanging around!

Skinny Cat likes to come for walks with us, which helps with the whole “pack” idea, but he usually doesn’t come the whole way.  He  waits in the trees by our drive to join us on the way home and pops out when we appear.  Unfortunately it’s his nature to dart everywhere, which is hard for Cookie to take, but she’s trying, and Cinnamon gives her really good example of how to accept cats as pack members, right down to ritual bum-sniffing every time she sees them! 

As we’ll be minding the two resident cats in Céreste, we hope that Cookie's rehabilitation continues, otherwise we may have to be creative in how we segregate the animals!

No comments:

Post a Comment