Preconceptions Are Limitations: Change the Environment
When I moved from
After several visits, our hosts recognized his unusual attachment to us and asked if we would like to adopt him. They identified him as an unregistered Ocicat and explained that during the two years he lived with them, a bite on his back became infected and impaired his sense of balance. He avoided high places and didn't climb onto anything that failed to provide a large flat surface. After considering their offer for a couple of weeks, my husband and I decided to take him on a trial basis. We didn't want to make him more miserable that he already seemed and worried about how he'd react to meeting dogs for the first time. Our other cats were also indoor/outdoor during the hours we were home to supervise them. Surprisingly, Chris adapted fairly well when introduced to the dogs. Whenever our young Sheltie, Clancy, settled down in an accessible space, Chris soon found him, sprawled out next to him, and began to purr and tread in his heavy ruff. Clancy, of course, looked bewildered and beleaguered. Soon, Chris was submitting to regular ear cleanings.
After a few weeks, I decided it was time to introduce Chris to the outdoors. We had a small fenced patio bordered inside by shrubs and colorful bulbs. Just outside the fence were two huge old long-leaf pines. As I followed Chris around, he sniffed and bit various branches and tufts of grass before heading under the fence and out to one of the trees. He immediately started to climb it and seemed quite pleased with himself. Shortly after this, I began to find Chris in interesting places all over the house. While still a bit unsteady, he systematically checked out all the reachable surfaces in the house. His former caretakers were amazed and delighted by the news.
As he gradually became more and more
confident, he began hunting. During our
I think the bird ban was reinforced by my
adoption of a small parrot, weighing about 140 grams. Parrots are not known for adaptability,
requiring a reliable low-stress routine and plenty of attention to avoid
neurotic behavior such as feather picking.
When I took
One day, I had moved
Chris has continued to astonish us all. Today, he and the Sheltie remain great friends. He continues to be both adaptable and sweet. I sincerely believe that he is perhaps the smartest cat I've ever had. I can't remember the last time he caught a bird. Many mornings I let him out front after I've finished showering with an admonishment to be back before I leave for work. When I open the door before leaving, he is either waiting for me or comes running after only a couple calls. Preconceptions limit animals just as they limit people and I encourage you to see your cats as individuals with their own individual needs and personalities. Loving an animal means connecting with them on their terms instead of our own. You'll be amply rewarded.