Larry & Betty (the cat)
Guest Author: Stephanie Sharp
We rescued our Larry on 4th February 2017. Prior to choosing Larry, we were informed he had been living with cats with a foster carer without issue and so knew that there would be a few hiccups but thought it would be okay… Well, it took months and months for it to be okay, but I can assure you – it will be okay, so please don’t give up!
Giving your cat a safe space
What we were faced with was months of hard work, an unhappy (and stroppy) cat and a very anxious/excitable setter. We did the usual things which I do think were beneficial, we used baby gates on the living room, the kitchen etc, meaning that the cat had safe spaces to escape, and she had upstairs., but for the most part she lived on surfaces out of his reach, or demanded to be carried when she did come downstairs.
(As you can see, baby gates were a success)
We also repeatedly demonstrated that the cat came first in the hierarchy, and fed her first, on a counter – he witnessed this each and every day.
‘The cat got ballsy’
However, that didn’t stop him from chasing her, every time she ran, he chased and it made her unhappy which made us unhappy. However, I’m also a big believer in that animals work it out for themselves and, as long as there is no violence/aggression, that is the case. After a few months, the cat got ballsy, she stopped running, and so did Larry. He then became confused. It wasn’t a chase game so he didn’t know what to do. She also swiped him a few times and he quickly learnt that he’d end up with a claw in his chops if he didn’t respect her space.
We spent a long time learning impulse control with Larry. “Leave it” with treats etc and then applied that every time the cat walked past. Truthfully “no” became a very used word in our home. But perseverance worked because, yes it was a hard 4/5 or even 6 months but in that time it was hard for Larry too. He’d never known love, never had a family, never heard a TV or a washing machine, and although he instantly loved us, the bond that we thought we had? It’s nothing compared to what we had after 12, 18 months or even now.
Larry was a bundle of nervous energy that required walks every day, boundaries and consistency and never stopped. He now refuses to do anything past 6pm at night as that is his time to relax on the sofa, and if hes had very long walks over a weekend, we actually don’t see him on a Monday as he sleeps all day, hes a pampered setter who enjoys the finer things in life now.
It get’s better
I’ve seen Larry offer her his toys, I’ve seen him sniff her, paw at her for attention, follow her round, respect her space and also been swiped at for having dared walk past her. Betty is too set in her ways and a typical cat, but when they don’t think we’re watching? They get on; we’ve found them asleep next to eachother, watching birds in the garden together and just be.
What I will say, is please don’t judge how your setter will be with your cat. one week, one month, six months in, please be patient, understanding, instil boundaries – because it will pay off. We are now so blessed to have Larry in our lives. We love him beyond any description and secretly so does the cat!