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Maintaining routine helps cat make move
Dear Dr. Spiegel, The article on Departures Rouse Sheltie's Herding Instincts (6/1/97) reminded us of a stay several years ago at a bed and breakfast on the border of England and Wales. The owner had a few sheep and a Border Collie named Henry. Apparently, there were not enough sheep for Henry to herd to satisfy his herding instincts so he herded guests as they were leaving. Henry was there at the front door when it opened and the guests were escorted to their car, all the time with Henry running circles around them and around the car, nipping at the tires when they got in the car and started it. And then, not entirely satisfied that he had done his duty he followed the car out the gate and a ways down the road - fortunately a little-traveled lane. We will always have fond memories of Henry! Sincerely, F. and E. N. Newark, DE
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I enjoy your column in the Wilmington News Journal and was hoping you could give some advice on my cat. Her name is Pud, and she is presently living with my Mom in Wilmington. Last year I moved to Rehoboth. I would like to bring Pud here to live with me. My question is what can I do to ease the transition? Pud is a rather independent cat who has been through a few relocations in her life (she's five). I work a lot of hours and I might not be able to give her the constant attention she gets from my Mom and her boyfriend, who are both at home throughout the day. She has been at my Mom's house for three years now and I don't want to do something that will stress her unduly. Any suggestions? Thanks for your time. R. M. Rehoboth, DE
Dear Randy, My secretary says,"Let her stay w/ the mom!" I say, it all depends on Pud. When you go home to visit, what does Pud do... does she spend all her time with you? In other words, if you had to look at the world through Pud's eyes, is she more at home in your mom's house with your mom or is she more at home being with you? In the hypothetical playground of our minds, how she'll do with this transition in large part depends on how she did with her previous transitions. If they went smoothly, then this likely will too. However, if this transition will be her first moving from a "constant attention" environment to a "mostly alone" environment, it may be significantly more stressful for her. Should you decide to take her with you, there are some things that you'll want to do. Find out from your mom how she spends her day... essentially what her routine is, when she eats, when she's active, when she seeks out petting, when she wants to play. As best you can, maintain her approximate routine of interactions. If many of her interactions are during the day when you would be at work, you may want to give her a concentrated exercise/play/attention time in the a.m. before feeding. After she eats she will probably be content to sleep. Unless your home/apt is small, keep her confined to one area (e.g., your bedroom) for the first few days. Provide her with clean litter box, food and fresh water. It's easier on them (cats, in general) if they can get acclimated to a smaller area first. They can then explore other areas of your home at their own pace, once you see that they are relaxed/comfortable in the smaller (less overwhelming) space you have provided them. Through your careful selection and introduction of this location/room, you will be helping to establish this space as a "safe haven" to which she can/will retreat when she feels scared/insecure. An out of the way place, where she'll have frequent and pleasant interactions, like your bedroom, is often a best choice. Ideally bring her down over a long weekend, so you have time to see that she's adjusting ok. You can make a few short departures, on the day or two days before you have to go to work at approximately the same time. Go the first time for about 30-45 min and the second time for an hour or so. A new toy can be a really good transitional tool as well. Introduce it 3-5 days before the move and resume about 1-2 days after the move. One of the best toys I've found for cats are laser pointers. You get to sit comfortably without having to do much of anything and aim the little red dot along the floor, walls, ceiling as though it were a little red bug. Most cats love to search out, chase and attempt to pounce on this "bug." Since you're playing the part of the bug, its your role to be elusive and escape from the beast that's chasing you... When you've escaped, it's time to flutter about again and continue this wonderful game of hunt which taps into the very essence of life as a cat. I have been able to search out and acquire quality laser pointers at a low price as compared to the typical market price for laser pointers (usually $50-100). I have them available for $35. They run on 2 AAA Batteries (included) and are great for alleviating pent-up/nervous energy. If you'd like me to send you one, let me know. Don't play or do anything too exciting w/ her when you get home from work for about 45 min. - 1 hr. If it's very exciting when you get home, by contrast it is more likely to seem depressing when she's left alone. Good luck whatever you decide.