I have worked in a veterinary clinic for almost 10 years. I am also a pet owner and have had my share of problems. I want the issue fixed, but truth be told, I’m a bit lazy. I want a shot or pill or something to happen magically. On top of it all, I feel an added pressure to have all the answers given where I work.
My issues may not be your issues, but the one thing that connects us all is having patience. My family adopted two cats in January of 2013 from Waverly Pet Rescue. The cats were fostered separately and never met until we brought them home. I am a veteran cat owner and have brought new cats into our home without incident. I took things slowly. I kept them separated and let them meet through a cat carrier. I let them eat near each other in carriers and I sprayed Feliway everywhere. In the past this worked like a charm.
Not so with Fred and Daphne. We had problems. Fred would attack Daphne to the point they couldn’t be together. Fred was so wonderful with us, why couldn’t he be with Daphne? I started to question my knowledge. I even started to question the adoption. Did one of them need to go? I couldn’t imagine giving one up, but how could I keep two cats separated forever?
I kept reading and questioning. I sprayed more Feliway. I considered medications. One month turned into 4 and then into 6 of keeping them separated. Our family went about our daily routine and from time to time I would introduce them again. Meetings would not end well and I felt defeated. I talked with a former co-worker, Natalie, who is the ultimate “Cat Whisperer.” She convinced me to open all the doors, supervise the cats, but just let things happen. So I did.
At times I felt bad. Fred chased Daphne. He could be relentless. I felt guilty when she would hide under the bed. I felt terrible that she wouldn’t ever join us downstairs. Then I realized she has 3 bedrooms to explore upstairs, a scratching post, her own “commode”, food, water, and a perch next to a sunny window. Her life is not horrible. It is certainly better than being outside and pregnant like she had been before. It just wasn’t the life I had envisioned.
We have had Fred and Daphne for one year now. The year didn’t go as I thought it would, but over time, the attacks have slowed. He still chases her at times, but she ventures downstairs on occasion. The cats will never be best friends, but they have learned to tolerate each other. I learned to tolerate doors being closed and to share my bathroom with Daphne’s litter box. I learned she would rather spend evenings snuggled with one of our boys than sit on the couch with me. I learned to see and do things differently. Most of all, I learned about patience.
I am reminded of this every day when I see families working with tough issues: The pet with failing kidneys requiring daily fluids, the puppy learning to potty outside, the non-stop itching dog, and even the cat not using the litter box. To all my fellow pet owners, there are no easy answers to our problems. There is no timeline on fixing them. There is no magic pill. Happy endings do exist, but they may not be when or how we imagined. We simply need the patience to see them.
This post was written by Kirsten Linney who has worked at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital since 2004. She started in the front office and now works behind the scenes on all things financial and most recently has tried her hand at social media. She grew up on a small farm north of Ames with dogs, cats, pigs, horses, sheep, and one cow. She and her husband have loved 6 different cats in their adult lives and currently are enamored with two cats, Fred (named after ISU men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg) and Daphne. They also have three little boys, one of whom will hopefully become a veterinarian one day.