by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Ginger lived in the garden for more than a year. While other tom cats left after the trauma of being neutered, Ginger stayed. From his behaviour it seemed that he had had a home previously as he was comfortable with people but not completely socialised. My cats wouldn’t let him inside, so he was fed and had shelter outside.
Then we adopted little Paddy; my two females looked at her in horror, refusing to have anything to do with the scrawny kitten. Ginger stepped up, moved in and brought up the kitten in the best manner of a genial uncle. So he was given a proper name, Ginger Gentleman Jim, shortened to Ginger Jim.
Three years later he still has issues relating to his early life. One of these is his attitude to food; if he can’t see or smell food he becomes stressed, even if he has just eaten. He needs to know that there is more food, another meal at least.
When Ginger Jim broke one of the (few) cardinal rules of cats, I knew he had a problem that needed urgent attention.
Cats do not like to pee or pooh near their food, so when he pee’ed in his food bowl in front of me he went to the vet. Luckily the diagnosis was not too bad, blocked anal glands, and now that is cleared.
However, it is not as easy to resolve as that, as there is a reason why he had this condition. The most likely cause is extreme stress, so there is more work to be done to understand what this is, and to prevent it from happening again and to help him to be a happier, more relaxed cat.
The moral of this story is not to take his actions at face value, believing that he is being ‘bad’, or that he dislikes the food. He gave me a message that was clear, indicating where his problem was. As his guardian and carer, I have to understand the message and take the appropriate action to resolve the issue.