Feral Redux – Rupert, Early Door Open Update

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I said in the last update that for Month 3 we’d be going “door open.” I said it with a great deal of anxiety, but now that we are two weeks into the door open thing, I have started to relax about it. I can relax because we had a plan, and Rupert is adapting to that plan very well.

Since we last spoke, I was able to get Rupert out of his circle bed and into a new one so that I could rotate and wash the one he’d been in for a month. Can you say hairy and stinky? Can you also say SNEAKY? Because I had to be one sly-assed cat mom to pull off such a maneuver, but I did it. Without incident too. I simply laid myself down on the floor and stared at the ceiling while slowly and gently pulling the cat bed out of its current location and out into the open room. I covered Rupert with a blanket before I started, so he was all snugged in and feeling safe. Then I inched. And inched. And inched him out from behind the chair. I did sing to him too, something like, “La la la, you’re not moving, nothing’s happening, la la la.” I also did not look at him while I was moving him. Once I got him settled in the open location, I moved the new cat bed into the spot behind the chair, put his breakfast down, and left the room. As I suspected, when he finished his breakfast, he realized that he was in foreign territory and proceeded to retreat back into the known. Just happens that a nice fresh bed was there waiting for him. Why did this work so well? I think it was a combination of:

  1. I pretended nothing was happening. I’m a writer. Pretending is my thing.
  2. I went slowly so it felt like nothing was happening.
  3. I let him make a choice about his bed location: stay where he found himself or go back to his regular spot. I challenged him, but let him decide. It worked.

We went door open as soon as the bed-swapping ordeal was over.

IMG_0030This is my gate situation. It’s two wooden-bar baby gates stacked on top of each other with a towel draped through them that I can adjust to increase or decrease the view into and out of the room. Since we are just starting out, the towel is almost completely down to the floor. I left enough of a crack for Moon and Rupert to smell each other if they want to.

There are a lot of gate types out there. We’ve had these since our ferret days. We needed bars to prevent climbing, and the bars had to be close together to prevent squeezing through. Other gates might work with cats too; we just used these because we had them.

After two weeks of “door open,” Rupert now comes out to eat even if we are bustling about. A covered gate helps with that in kind of a weird way: We don’t look so huge, lurking and hulking back and forth in the doorway of his safe place. We just look like little floating heads. To him, floating, smiling heads are way better than Sasquatch.

In fact, Rupert is doing so well with the door open situation that we let Moon visit with him for a half an hour both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

I was terrified. Let me just be honest. TERRIFIED!

Moon stared.

Moon hissed.

Moon growled.

Moon lurked.

Moon threw himself in Rupert’s general direction, head on …

I might have closed my eyes at that point while misting a lot of catnip spray into the air and praying there would be no blood.

Rupert did nothing.

Rupert non-responded with an eye-roll and a pffft.

They remember. Moon is and has always been very melodramatic. He hisses and growls at people walking in front of the house. Including the UPS driver and the Mailperson.

Rupert finds it all very boring and a waste of energy. He successfully ignored Moon’s melodrama for years while they were outside together. Stick with what works, right?

So Moon turned around and started playing with me instead, which is what I want. Rupert gets excited when Moon is around. Seeing Moon playing with me will help Rupert come out of his shell and increase his desire to engage …

IMG_0009I know this because for the remainder of the day on Saturday, Rupert was partially out of the circle bed, looking for us.

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