Demetria, or Demi as her person Robyn affectionately calls her, is a very determined cat. In fact, Robyn says she is a true diva! Robyn loves Demi and does her best to give Demi what she needs and wants.
I first spoke to Demi in April. Robyn, her husband Bob and their furry family were living in challenging times. Robyn had moved to south Florida for work and took their other cat, Ladybug with her — Bob remained in Canada with Demi and their dog Sammy. Robyn had taken Bug (as Robyn calls her) because Demi doesn’t do well with change. Our first conversation, which included Bob who was visiting in FL, started with talking to Demi about peeing outside the litter box, which she’d been doing on and off for a few years.
We asked Demi what started this behavior. Demi indicated that she was mad because Robyn had started fostering kittens. Demi did not want to have to share Robyn’s attention with the kittens and showed her displeasure clearly by peeing outside the litter box. Robyn said that she had thought that was the issue and had stopped fostering kittens, which was a very difficult thing for her because she wanted to help homeless kittens — but Demi came first.
Since Robyn was no longer fostering kittens, we asked why Demi still wasn’t using the litter box. Demi said that since Robyn left, Bob was not keeping the litter box clean enough to suit Demi. Bob admitted that he could do better with this and agreed to make sure the box stayed clean. But there was more to it than that . . .
Robyn was concerned that Demi was having physical issues and asked me to see if Demi was having any pain. Demi pointed me at her lower back/hips — the pain level she showed me was significant. When I scanned her body, I felt that she had arthritic changes in her lower back/hips. Robyn knew that Demi had been injured in a car accident as a kitten, but did not know the specifics of the accident. Demi showed me that a car had partially backed over her when she was lying on the driveway. Robyn said that this explanation correlated perfectly with the injuries that had been identified. Demi showed me that the pain was making it difficult to step up over the edge of the litter box. Bob said he would cut down the front of the box so Demi could get in more easily.
I asked Demi if she would be willing to use the litter box if Bob adjusted the box so she could get into it more easily and if she was having less pain. Demi didn’t see why it was a big deal that she was peeing outside the litter box — it took a LOT Of convincing to get her to say she would “try” to use the box! Considering how stubborn Demi was about this, I was glad that at least she said she’d try.
Robyn wanted to take Demi to the vet so they could see if anything could be done to help reduce Demi’s pain. I explained to Demi why she needed to go to the vet and what we expected would happen (including the exam by the vet and x-rays). Demi was highly insulted that “they would do things” to her. After much convincing, including letting her know that the more cooperative she was, the sooner she’d be back home — Demi finally said that she “would be vocal, but would cooperate.” She really felt all this was an affront to her dignity!
About a month later, it was finally time for the vet appointment so Robyn asked me to talk to Demi again. Bob had cut down the front of the litter box and he had been diligent in cleaning the box . . . and Demi had been really good about using the litter box! We told Demi how grateful Robyn and Bob were that she was using the litter box — she took the compliments as her due for good behavior.
Next we talked about the vet visit. Clearly, Demi had been mulling this over in her mind, because when I told her the appointment would be in a few days, she was very defiant and said, “I’M NOT GOING!!” We told her that the vet tech was someone she knew and liked, but she didn’t care. The only way to describe her response is a tantrum! She was adamant that if she was taken to the vet, she create a fuss — I was honestly afraid she would hurt either the tech or the vet, she was that upset. I finally had to tell her, in the strongest possible way, that she could NOT hurt anyone. I told her she could vocalize, but could not claw or bite anyone. I couldn’t get Demi to promise to behave, but she said she’d “try”. Robyn reported to me later that the vet visit went very well — no one was injured and Demi did cooperate, even though she was not happy. Demi got an extra special treat of tuna that night as a “thank you” for her good behavior!
A few weeks later we talked to Demi again, to see how she was feeling. Demi showed me that her low back/hips were tight, but not painful. Unfortunately, Demi had started peeing outside the litter box again. Her initial response was, “Oh, that again? It’s not a big deal — it’s just not always convenient” to use the litter box. I had a lengthy discussion with Demi about why it was important to use the litter box, reminding her that Bob had done everything she asked to make the litter box work for her and that if she could use the litter box sometimes, she could use it ALL the time. Demi started arguing with me, saying that she uses it when she feels like it. I told her that she had a nice place to live, good food and is well cared for and that the best way to thank her people for all that is to use the litter box all the time. She did not seem impressed with my suggestion and I was not confident that she’d comply.
At the beginning of June, a family member flew with Demi to FL so she could live with Robyn. We’d prepared Demi for the trip and she did great — of course, the sedative she received before leaving helped too! Demi had been excited about seeing Robyn again — but “not so much” about seeing Bug. When we let Bug know Demi was coming she said, “OH NO!”
The next few weeks after Demi came to FL were pretty stressful, as the cats worked things out between themselves. Bug made it clear to Demi that she wasn’t going to let Demi walk all over her and Demi gave as good as she got. Since Demi was stressed, she started peeing outside the litter box again. Robyn tried several different types of litter boxes and finally found one that Demi likes — an under the bed storage container with the lid removed.
Peace has not been restored totally — but the cats have mostly established a kind of tolerance for each other. Demi isn’t 100% on using the litter box yet — but she is getting better. Robyn says that it is Demi’s loving behavior toward people that is her best quality — she rubs on and will sit on anyone who comes into the apartment — including the plumber! As Robyn says, “Demi’s affectionate behavior balances out the times she makes me want to pull my hair out!”
So Robyn is going to love Demi through it — whatever it takes!
” Gaining the insight that our companions really do understand and strive to communicate with us has brought the bond between myself and my own animals even closer together.” — Robyn T., FL
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