Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Beauty Of The Safe Room

This month, we’ve been consulting about two cats named Sami and Sadi.  They are beautiful calico kittens who have been together since birth.  Their owner, Virginia, loves them both and, up until recently, they loved each other.  Then, however, the cats turned two and, as all too often happens, they decided they were no longer friends.  They fight and scream and just can’t seem to be together.  Cats reach sexual maturity at two to four years of age and, even if they’re spayed or neutered, they can start to feel a little crowded by the other cats in the household.  In Virginia’s case, Sadi seemed to taking a lot of her frustration out on Sami, who was spending a lot of time running and cowering under furniture.  By the time we talked, Virginia had already used excellent judgement and was separating the cats.  Each cat would spend some time in a closed room with food, water, and her own litter box.  When Sadi was kept in the room, she spent a lot of time meowing and scratching at the door.  As soon as the door was open, she would dart out and start marking everything by rubbing her cheek against furniture, door frames, and anything else she could find.  Basically, it seems Sadi was spending all her time in the room stressing about the rest of her ‘territory’.  She was just in there knowing that Sami was ‘touching her stuff!!’  She needed to mark everything as soon as she was free and then sit high on a dresser to survey her domain. It’s very important for Sadi to keep an eye on her house. 

Sami, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind being in the room at all.  We discussed reserving the private room for Sami and using it as her ‘safe room’.  Virginia started having Sami stay in this room for the majority of the time and letting Sadi have the run of the rest of the house.  She made sure to give Sami comfy sleeping areas and plenty of toys, and she spends special time with her every day. It’s now been two weeks since Sami started getting primary use of the safe room.  Virginia says she’s calm, quiet, and seems happy in her safe room.  When Virginia checks on her, she’ll see that she’s playing with her toys and seems perfectly content.  Rather than feeling imprisoned, Sami seems happy to have her own space that smells like hers and doesn’t involve any altercations.  Virginia wishes they could live together like a happy family, but for now, it’s more like a family with some teenager issues.  Eventually, Virginia will work on slow, supervised re-introduction.  In the meantime, we’ll let Sadi and Sami be the mistresses of their own, individual safe domains.

Kelley Wagner, C.V.T.

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