3 March 2014

an update

radiant

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind and encouraging comments on my post about the rough patch Rebus and I have been going through. I can't tell you how much they helped me to feel less alone with this upsetting situation.

There have been a few developments since that post.

The consultation between Rebus' veterinarian and the technician who works with the feline behaviour specialist led to a working diagnosis of "misdirected predatory behaviour". Owing to frustrated predatory instincts, Rebus simply turned his aggression on the nearest living being, i.e. me. I must say that this makes all too much sense. I've always known that Rebus is a high-energy cat who requires a lot of attention, but I'm afraid I haven't been very good at meeting his needs, especially over the past couple of years, as my energy levels have dropped. With some cats, it's enough to just toss a few toys and let them be, but not with Rebus!

The recommendations from the experts were threefold:

1. enriching his environment in a way that satisfies his predatory instincts;
2. administering a natural anti-anxiety medicine for one month;
3. running a full blood panel to check for any hidden health conditions.

The first two measures were simple enough, but I dreaded the third more than I can possibly express — and rightly so, as it turned out. It took 2 technicians 4 attempts before they were able to collect enough blood from a terror-stricken Rebus to run the test...

Back home, I set about creating a more stimulating environment for my house tiger. Furniture and toys were moved around, new interactive toys made an appearance. Mealtimes are now more challenging, with some of his food (aside from the portion sprinkled with his medicine) placed in a dispenser ball, and a few pieces of kibble hidden in various locations around the apartment for him to "hunt". I'm also trying the veterinarian's suggestion of giving Rebus a couple of treats after each of our vigorous play sessions to simulate his eating his "prey". (Not the most vegan-friendly thoughts, I must say.)

When Rebus' veterinarian called with partial blood panel results, she was concerned by some of the levels and recommended a urine test, which proved normal. Because of these conflicting results, she advised testing again in 2 months to see if these abnormal levels have progressed, and in the meantime switched Rebus from "dental" food to "senior" food as a preventative measure.

So over the past two weeks, poor Rebus was subjected to two visits to the veterinary clinic (the other two I thankfully made on my own); poked and prodded and stuck with needles; had weird pebbles put in his litterbox; started seeing a strange white powder sprinkled over some unfamiliar food and having to work hard for the rest; is now made to run and jump after new toys at least twice a day; and has his teeth brushed on a daily basis. Thank Darwin he deals so well with change! He's being such a great sport about the whole thing. I'm learning to fight my exhaustion in order to play with him by sitting on a low stool in the middle of my apartment to shine the laser pointer or wave his wand toy.

How are things going now? It's like having the old Rebus back! He's his sweet affectionate self, only calmer. He hasn't shown the slightest trace of aggressive behaviour since last Monday. Fingers crossed for the future!

And now I think I'll join him for a nap...


fast asleep

12 comments:

  1. So relieved to read this! I'd been thinking of you two. When I read your first entry about this, I almost shared my own story about Cedric getting too aggressive during play and hissing at me. I was all over the Internet trying to figure that one out! I bet he was having the same issues as Rebus. I try to play with him more regularly now, and he hasn't hissed in a long time. Anyway, like I said -- I almost shared that story, but you were getting such great responses and suggestions and I didn't want to be the useless "me, too!" commenter.

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    1. Please don't refrain from chiming in with "me, too!" in the future, Sonia! It's such a relief to find out that others are dealing with similar issues.

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  2. Well done both of you! I have never had a cat who didn't spend at least part of the day or night outside doing their own thing, but then I have a garden, and live right on the edge of a town. My 18 month old Polly does seem to get quite tetchy during long spells of bad weather when she can't let off steam outside. I suppose 'cabin fever' applies just as much to animals!

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    1. I think so, too! They deal with the boredom in their own way. Rebus was a strictly indoor cat when I adopted him at 9½ months old, and has never been outdoors (under strict supervision) for more than a couple of minutes. Sometimes I wish I could just shoo him outside when he's being too rambunctious or needy, but he's both very inquisitive and fearful of loud or unfamiliar noises — the perfect combination for getting into trouble in this neighbourhood...

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  3. Ça fait plaisir de voir cette mise à jour contenir tellement de bonnes nouvelles! Yay! Je suis vraiment contente que ces mesures t'aient permis de retrouver une relation agréable avec ton bon vieux matou. Je comprends tellement le défi que ça peut représenter de lui offrir la stimulation dont il a besoin quand tu dois fonctionner avec une quantité d'énergie limitée. Tu sembles avoir trouvé de bonnes façons d'y parvenir; je te souhaite que ça devienne même, éventuellement, une activité énergisante pour toi. Ce serait l'idéal pour vous deux!

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    1. Merci! Il reste encore des inquiétudes au sujet de ses reins, mais la situation la plus alarmante semble être sous contrôle pour le moment. Fiou!
      Oui, ce serait génial si on pouvait être actifs tous les deux... En attendant, je me donne un bon coup de pied :-)

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  4. That's a relief, and it makes so much sense. I was terrified that he might have a brain disorder (always my default position when worrying!) but how reassuring to know that he just needs some rough and tumble and a bit of extra stimulation. Aren't laser pointers great? Work beautifully on little scaredy-cat ferals who regard you (me) as the Enemy! x

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    1. That was one of the possibilities, and it's not entirely ruled out yet. There was talk of meeting the specialist in person for an assessment, but the 1½-hour journey to get there would have been traumatic enough to skew any results... hence the month-long trial period with medicine and an enriched environment. So far, so good!

      Yes, laser pointers are a beautiful invention!

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  5. How wonderful to read this update. Thank you for sharing this—and for sharing that snuggly photo of your feline sweetheart :) I'm glad, like each of your readers is, to read that both you and Rebus are doing much better. The extra playtime that you get with him and that are part of his therapy sounds like it will be beneficial not just to him but to you, too, in this draining and exhausting period (my heart sends much love and positivity when I read your tweets about ramen and exhaustion, chère Danielle!). In the absence of dogs or cats to keep my emotions and stress in check, I'll go set my bum on a meditation cushion. Hehe. Huge hugs to both of you. You're both kickass :)

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    1. Thank you for the love, positivity and hugs, dear! It's a huge relief to see such a difference in his behaviour from implementing very simple measures. I think this has made me more patient towards him, too, but I wish I could muster more energy to keep up with him!

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  6. On dirait que c'est une histoire qui avance dans la bonne direction =)

    J'ai un minou aussi qui a un sale caractère... je devrais peut-être lui accorder plus d'attention pour éviter que ça empire. Mes chats capotent sur les lasers, mais sinon, j'en ai un que les plumes rend fou (on avait acheté un sac de plumes colorées ne ne sais plus plus où) et deux qui adorent chasser les gros élastiques (qu'ils rapportent invariablement dans leurs gamelles).

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    1. Je croise les doigts pour que ça continue comme ça!

      Rebus a toujours été super gentil et affectueux — c'est ce qui rend ses attaques si inexplicables et si effrayantes. Je pense que la leçon à en tirer, c'est qu'il faut canaliser l'énergie du chat dans la bonne direction et s'assurer que ses instincts de prédateur soient satisfaits... que ce soit avec un pointeur laser ou un élastique! :-)

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