Suzanne, who lives on a farm in Costa Rica, contacted me in early July about talking to her cats. Suzanne was going to be making a two week trip to Canada in August and was concerned about how her cats would manage while she was gone.
Suzanne felt that two of her cats would be fine, but she was very concerned about the other two cats. Suzanne had never been away from them over night before and had decided to do a “trial run” (being gone for four days) the following week to make sure they would manage while she was in Canada.
Suzanne said that the plan was for the day worker on the farm, Fernando, to arrive each morning, feed the cats and then tend to the farm. In the evening before he left, he would get the cats inside the house, feed them, leave them inside for the night and then feed the cats and let them out in the morning each day until Suzanne returned.
The problem was that two of Suzanne’s cats, Rosie and Bentley, were very skittish around Fernando — they wouldn’t go near him, let alone go in the house when he was there. Suzanne asked me to talk to the cats to see if we could get them to be more trusting with Fernando.
I talked to Rosie first. My impresson of Rosie was that she was a bit of a diva — she knew she was gorgeous and felt that everyone around her should know it too! She showed me that Fernando did tell her how beautiful she was, which she really liked. But she showed me that she kept her distance from Fernando when he sat down for lunch. She admitted that she would eat the occasional piece of food that he would toss her way, but she would NOT go near him. I told Suzanne that my impression of Rosie was that she was a very confident cat. Suzanne laughed when I told her what Rosie had shared with me — she said, “That’s my Rosie!”
I talked to Bentley next. He was the complete opposite of Rosie — shy, but not fearful and confident in his own way. He said he was “careful” with Fernando and did not go near him — not because he was afraid of him, but because he was “careful” with everyone other than Suzanne. He showed me that he always deferred to Rosie. Bentley showed me was that when he was near Fernando, he crouched down, hoping for a food scrap, but would not come anywhere near Fernando. Suzanne confirmed that was exactly how Bentley behaved.
I confirmed with both cats that Fernando never did anything harmful to either of them. Bentley said that Fernando seemed “kind” to him — neither cat had any negative feelings specific to Fernando at all. I suggested/showed the cats that if they were very, very brave and came closer to Fernando, he would give them more compliments and more food treats. They both thought this was a good idea and were willing to try. I told Rosie that Fernando would love it if she came closer — so he could admire her beauty close up. Rosie definitely liked the idea of even greater admiration!
I told the cats what the plan was for the four days that Suzanne would be away the following week. They weren’t too sure about having to stay in the house all night, but they said that they would be willing to go into the house to eat.
I told Suzanne to let Fernando know that he needed to tell both cats how handsome/beautiful they were and to encourage them to be brave and come closer to him and give them a food reward if they did. Suzanne said she would do so.
A few days before Suzanne left for her “trial run” of 4 days away, she reported to me that, Rosie had been making an effort to try to be more friendly with Fernando — “Rosie came closer to Fernando than ever before” and that Bentley was clearly trying too. Suzanne said that “both cats are cooperating — they stayed in the room when Fernando came yesterday for me to show him what he’ll need to do to feed the cats. Big Progress!!”
A week later, the “trial run” was a complete success, although Suzanne decided not to have Fernando lock the cats in the house at night while she was away. This was much better for the cats and good thinking on Suzanne’s part, since being locked in at night was the only part of the plan that Rosie and Bentley were not too happy about.
At the beginning of August, shortly before Suzanne’s two week trip to Canada, Suzanne emailed to let me know how Rosie and Bentley were doing . . . “I was sitting with Fernando for lunch and who comes to beg? Rosie and Bentley! They’ve been doing that since the first time you talked to them. Rosie was quite bold today, she even put her front paws up on Fernando’s lap so he could give her a little treat — of all things a black bean from his rice and beans!”
A few months later, Suzanne reported that, “Fernando is now able to touch Rosie a little bit and she takes food directly from his hand. The cats are fine now when I have to go away for a few days. Even Bentley seems to like Fernando now and Rosie is totally at ease with him. Happy changes!”
Getting to know the people that will care for them is very important to animals. Sometimes this even leads to new animal/human friendships — which is a bonus for everyone involved!
“I am so glad to know you, Sky. It is a nice feeling to have this kind of help with my animals when needed. Thank you very, very much! We all love you. I am so happy to know that, with your help, Rosie and Bentley now know that it can be nice to experience human contact with others besides me.” — Suzanne P., Costa Rica.
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