Turning an Accident into a Moment

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Yesterday Mother Nature decided to give us a spa day, and by spa, I mean specifically the sauna part. Not a good gardening day, so I decided to take the chairs out of Rupert’s room so that I could give them a good cleaning. I haven’t been able to get in there with the vacuum since November, so the chairs are dusty and hairy underneath from Rupert’s first months when he sequestered his stinky ass under them until he found the cat beds. For a while now, I’ve wanted to de-hair them and give them a good spray with the enzyme cleaner to get rid of any residual cat stink.

Of course, this procedure scared Rupert right out of the room. He ran across the hall and hid under the bed. Moon likes to hide under the bed when we have people over, so there’s blankets and it’s pretty comfy, but even with Moon, I don’t let him stay under there very long because I don’t want to reinforce the fraidy-cat thing. Moon generally comes out on his own once things quiet down to his specifications (think crickets in the dead of night quiet) but if he doesn’t, I will extricate him. That said, we headed out to the Home Depot figuring Rupert would wander back to his room once the house got quiet. We were gone for about an hour, but when we returned he was still under the bed, which meant that I would have to intervene.

I pulled the bed out. Quite a surprising thing when the roof over your head disappears.

That sent him running back across the hall to his room. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that my husband had gone into the room to get something and he and Rupert wound up crashing into each other, which subsequently sent Rupert into a mad skidding dash down the hall into the living room. He eventually wandered into the dining room, which is where you see him in the pic.

To be proactive, I gave Moon a tryptophan calming chew because I was afraid of an altercation. This was the first time that Rupert would officially be in Moon territory. I couldn’t even be near them because I didn’t want to project my anxiety into the room, so my husband relayed what was happening like a sporting event color announcer. Moon did stalk Rupert from behind and raise a pin-filled paw as if to threaten or smack him, but he didn’t get the cowering reaction from Rupert that he normally gets, and that was because he was threatening the wrong end. He put his paw down, smelled Rupert’s butt, and then walked away.

Later, I put a dish of canned food down for Rupert, but he was too afraid to eat it. He didn’t run during all the cooking commotion in the kitchen, and he didn’t run while we sat at the table and ate our dinner. But he was too nervous to eat his own food.

About an hour after dinner, while we were watching a comedy program, Moon wanted to be shown his bowl of food again. (He does this thing where he likes you to show him that the food is ok before he will eat it. I think it’s a residual kitten thing.) Anyway, I walked him to the bowl, swished the kibble around with my finger, and then went back to the sofa. I freaked out when my husband said, “Moon’s going for Rupert’s dish.” Gah!!! A fight over food is the last thing we need, but Moon gave Rupert a nose boop and then proceeded to eat a few mouthfuls of the canned food. (Canned food he’s normally not thrilled about unless it’s someone else’s apparently.) He nose-booped Rupert again when he was done, and then came back to me on the sofa. Once he was gone, Rupert ate the remainder of the food.

Now I don’t know if Moon was being nice and helping out or if it was a “I’m top cat and I eat first” sort of thing. Either way, Rupert agreed to the terms by backing up slightly as a sign of acquiescence maybe, and all was right with the world at that moment. Well, right enough to warrant nose-boops. Rupert even nose booped me on Saturday.

I visited him a little bit; got him to relax and show his belly, then we all went to bed. Once the lights were off, he started moving around the house. I waited patiently for him to wander back down the hall, but he didn’t. I didn’t hear hissing or growling from anybody, so it seemed that poor Rupert had got himself turned around and couldn’t figure out how to get back to his room. I did have to gently guide him a little. I didn’t fuss over him at that point. Once he made it back to his room, I just put one gate up and closed the door most of the way so that he could relax and decompress after his adventure.

This morning, he showed no hesitation and practically leapt out of the cat bed to get his breakfast. I wasn’t expecting that. Maybe now that he’s experienced the house, his curiosity will be piqued enough to venture out more during the day when we are at work. I think even Moon might have made it over a fear hurdle last night as well.

So that’s how we turned an accident/panic attack into a rehabilitation training moment. For all of us. With clean furniture to boot.

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