Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tough Love for Tanya

It's been a tough week for Tanya, but the end appears to be justifying the means.

A few days ago, I took the third floor away from her. Other than brief, infrequent forays from her top-floor retreat she wasn't making any progress toward integration. So I got her out from under her preferred bed, released her to flee to the basement, brought the two litterboxes down to the bit of hallway at the foot of the stairs (sigh), and closed the door.

Then a couple of hours later I went back up to investigate some odd noises and let Schooner out of there.

Poor girl! It must have been horrifying for her, losing her safest lair in this jungle of strange cats. For the first two days she fled from hiding place to hiding place, and had a haunted look when I saw her (usually to deposit a handful of kibble near her, then back off and watch to see that she ate -- a process often complicated by Schooner's eager intrusions). Daily I dithered over giving in and letting her have the third floor again.

The third day, though, showed some small signs of progress. She spent a larger amount of her hiding time camped under my bed -- a higher structure than her third-floor refuge, and much more exposed to the other cats. When they went near her, she didn't hiss or growl (or hardly any).

Over the last couple of days things have moved significantly forward. I've seen her several times actually out in the open! With the residents within a few feet! And nobody died! Last night I came out of my bedroom to find her sitting halfway down the stairs, Schooner at the bottom, and

OMG!!!!!!!!! She just looked into the office as I was typing this! Sat gazing at me for several seconds, and at Sally and Peanut beyond me, then turned and sedately walked back toward the bedroom!

Anyway, to resume what I'd been writing:

Tanya looked at me, let me come down a couple of stairs, then scurried away past Schooner for the basement. But that was much bolder than she'd been just two days before.

She still does retreat when I approach, but her slink is less craven -- more of a scuttle. I should note here that every time I've been able to touch her and pet her, she's responded with purrs and moving into the caress, so I think it's the frightening gestalt of her new existence rather than specific fear of me that moves her to retreat if I walk toward her. Crawling on my belly, I can get much closer.

She's back! Lasted a few seconds longer this time. Now she's under the bed, under the headboard, with Peanut lying under the foot of the bed. Both look relaxed.

To resume: Tanya's now tolerating the residents being within inches of her. Yesterday I fed her kibble under my bed. Tomba moved in for some; I gave him a separate pile. Schooner bustled in ("What's up? Food? For me!") and got his own little pile. Everyone ate quietly within a foot of each other. The last 24 hours have seen a real jump in her comfort level.

Hoo boy! Just went hands-and-kneeing partway into the bedroom. Tomba plunked himself before me for some loving. Tanya, three feet away under the bed, saw, meeped, considered, and started toward me. "Love me too" was in her eyes. She got to the edge of the bed.

Schooner thrust by me through the doorway, in between me and the retreating Tanya. Curses! Foiled again! Tomba continued soaking up scritches, till Schooner proved sufficiently annoying for him to thwack the impudent boy and chase him out. While those two were engaged elsewhere, Tanya and I communed. Hesitantly, she came closer... closer... her head emerged from under the bed... I reached out my hand and she dived into the chin and cheek scritches.

Schooner came back. Tanya turned away. I departed, elated with the amazing progress just achieved.

I have felt rotten over doing this to Tanya, but it's working out to be the right thing.

Tomba, meanwhile, is right at home. There's still a wee bit of posturing with the others now and then to establish social status, but he eats with the rest of the scrum, hangs out without fear, and has chosen the second-floor landing as his preferred observation post. When he wants some loving he stalks over to me and requests it. For Tomba, life is good.

For Tanya, I now can hope that it will also be good soon. Phew!

Sophie update: X-rays showed no bone involvement. Prescription: Tincture of time. Condition: Daily improving, to the point that this morning there's hardly any limp left.

No comments: