Last of a series in four episodes.
Mary Beth is committed to bringing out the best in “Cougar,” not to mention her own safety. Getting punched on the way out had never been on his to-do list. On my advice, she bought stimulating food-dispensing toys which she loaded with delicious preserves. Allowing her cat to get good and hungry before she left made things easier. He attacked these mock rodent carcasses with a vengeance, leaving his caring, calculating caretaker free to indulge in a rousing game of pinochle in the recreation room. So far, so good. But she still had to make it out alive.
Like all self-respecting predators, Cougar found the erratic movement impossible to resist. Browsing through local pet supply stores and on the internet (petlinkssystem.com/play), Mary Beth found a battery-operated toy that drove her inveterate feline hunter wild with desire. Only using it for her departures, she pulled it out of hiding, lit it behind the couch, and stormed out. Meanwhile, Cougar was too busy jumping on his mechanical victim to notice. The fear and the bloodshed had ended.
Cougar had been just what he was, a cat with unmet needs. To abandon her would have been a tragedy for him and for Mary Beth. She loved him, so she engaged her natural empathy to derail his suffering and his. Realizing his needs were different, she could treat him like a cat. She also had a good story to tell while the cards were dealt.
Like anyone with a vexing problem, Mary Beth had hoped for a quick and easy solution to put an end to her cat’s aggression. I specified that a food toy distraction, followed by the appearance of simulated prey, should precede its daily outing for the rest of Cougar’s life with it. Only a brain transplant would cure him of being a cat. (Veterinary behaviorist humor.)
Indoor cats need every bit of environmental enrichment we can muster. There’s lots more on my website, drjeffnichol.com/pet-behavior/.
GET ONLINE HELP FOR ANIMALS: For help with behavioral issues, you can sign up for a Zoom group conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He offers in-person and group consultations via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up for free at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions about pets at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail at 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.