Training and Behavioural Visits
We offer training and behavioural visits for cats who are scratching the furniture, house soiling, showing signs of nervousness or aggression. These are just a few examples as the list is endless.
REIKI HEALING FOR ANIMALS
Please see under the complimentary modalities link.
The Gammy Story
It was spring 2002, when i first saw Gammy, a blue grey feral tomcat. I didn't get any closer to him than about twenty feet but i could clearly see that all was not well with one of his hind legs. The leg stuck straight out behind him and did not appear to bend at all, but he was fast enough on his feet to avoid me. I tried to gain his trust using food but he was too nervous and always kept the safe distance of about twenty feet. I felt that his leg needed looking at by a vet, but i was unable to get anywhere near him. I tried to assess his leg from a distance but all I could see was that the leg and foot easily cleared the ground. The following day i saw him again and then he seemed to disappear and i feared the worst.
At the beginning of March 2003, several local people were talking about an injured wild cat that needed shooting to put it out of its misery. I asked for a description of the cat and sure enough it was Gammy. It was a couple of days before i actually saw him again myself, but now his leg was bobbing up and down rather than being carried high, as his leg bobbed down it hit the floor. I started trying to build his trust by putting food out for him, then gradually over the following weeks, moved it closer and closer to the building I planned on shutting him in. When he was confident enough to eat his food inside the building I needed to shut the door but he was too quick and i failed. The following day i tied a length of string about thirty feet long to the door, so I could pull the door shut from a distance. On this occassion I was successful but i soon realised that the hardest part was yet to come, he was so scared that any attempt by me to enter the building caused him to swing from the light bulb (literally). I was sure though that he hadn't got any damage to his pelvis as he easily scaled six foot wire panels. I had no idea how i was going to catch him now; even though he was confined he was still very scared and very fast.
I needed help so I called the RSPCA who were not very helful on this occasion; i asked if there was anyway i could borrow something to trap him in , so the vet could check his leg. The young lady on the other end of the phone insisted that this was a welfare issue and that they would send someone around to remove the animal. I said I was willing to take responsibility for the cat as far as having his leg checked but that I needed help to catch him. The reaction was still one of removing the cat, so I ended the conversation. The following day Gammy escaped, so I had to start again.
Several weeks went passed before I managed to shut him in again. This time it would be safer to move him into the other side of the building, because there was a safety area, to minimize the risk of another escape. This was not an easy task but i did manage to get him into the other side, there was a large dog bed on a shelf high up in there and this was where he found safety.
This time I phoned the Cats Protection who offered to lend me a cat trap, when this was delivered the lady asked to see the cat, the top of his ears over the dog bed was all she saw. The trap was set so that the door did not drop behind him, so he built up confidence going in and out of there, his food was placed in there twice daily. I again phoned the RSPCA, this time I spoke to someone else who was more helpful, I asked whether they would be able to contribute towards the vets bills, but they were honest and said that it would be a minimal amount. I spoke to the Cat's Protection to ask them whether they would be able to contribute towards the vet's costs but they would only be able to supply a voucher towards his neutering.
I set the trap so that the door shut behind him when he went in on Monday morning for his breakfast, sure enough the door shut behind him. Off we went to the vets to have the leg looked at. It turned out that he had to stay over night, as they did not get as far as him on the list that day for "ops". One of the nurses tried to transfer him from the trap into one of the kennels for the night but he escaped. The nurses didn't think that there was too much wrong with his pelvis when he went up and over the kennel block. All hands on deck to catch the escaped cat held up surgery for a little while and caused major disruption in the hospital area. They did manage to catch him and the following day he was anaesthetised, his leg still did not bend, x-rays didn't show any fractures old or new. It would appear that the tendon was too short and that his leg was fixed in that position. While he was anaesthetised the options were discussed, the only treatment would be to amputate the leg but this is major surgery, which would require a lot of aftercare. At this time Gammy would not be able to cope with that and the stress would be too much. As the leg was not causing him any pain at the moment it was decided just to neuter him and i would try to work with him with a view to amputating at a later date.
The Cats Protection sent a voucher to cover the cost of the neutering, the RSPCA paid £17-66 towards the bill and Gammy was to remain in my care.
Back in the safety of his bed on the shelf, I did not see him for over three months, the food disappeared, the toys were moved and the litter tray was used but it always looked as if no one was home.
At least twice a day I visited Gammy, just chatting away to him while cleaning out his litter tray and putting food out for him. Even though he was in hiding I felt creeping around so as not to frighten him would not help in the long run. This seemed to go on for months and I felt that little or no progress was being made and then gradually he showed himself. At first all that could be seen over the top of the dog bed were his ears, then the top of his head, then his eyes etc... Eventually Gammy started coming down from his bed to eat his food while I was still in the building, this was a positive move.
Almost six months had passed and I still hadn't managed to gain his trust to allow me to touch him, so I let him out, surprisingly he was waiting for his tea at five o'clock and happily trotted back in.
Now that he was out and about he was happily following me around the yard, so when he went back into his pen in the evening, I knelt on the floor near his food bowl and very very gradually I touched him. Once he had allowed me to touch and stroke him properly, his confidence and trust grew very quickly, the more fuss he had the moree he seemed to want. Just as well because his withered leg was bobbing up and down as he walked and this was wearing out his toes. One Tuesday evening time had run out as he was leaving a small trail of blood behind him where his nails had completely worn away, he was now at risk from infection. I had to keep him in for a week and train him to to get into the crush cage. This was uprisingly easy, on the Tuesday morning I was to shut him in the crush cage and take him in to have his leg amputated. (As you can see from the picture Gammy's hind leg is being covered in faeces, which is not nice for him at all).
Once in the vets Gammy was sedated ready for the operation, which went really well and I was to collect him in the evening. But when i arrived to collect himhis wound was bleeding and so he had to stay in over night. The following day I received a telephone call asking me to collect Gammy because he was refusing to eat and was panicking about the Elizabethan collar he had to wear. I wanted them to keep him in another night as the weather had turned really cold and this was no house cat, because he was refusing food he was better off at home with me.
I went to collect a very frightened little cat who was very pleased to see me, the nurse gave me antibiotics and pain killers, both in liquid form so I could just add them to his food. The nurse said he was really getting himself in a state about the collar, so it might be best to take it off when you get him home. I wasn't prepared to do that because if he ripped those stitches out it could be disastrous. (This picture shows Gammy after his leg was amputated and he is so much happier).
I had prepared Gammy's pen to allow me to care for him and keep him warm, he was to spend the next two weeks in a giant dog cage, which had been raised off the floor and was kitted out with a fur lined bed, three heat pads. litter tray, bowls etc. and it was covered with two double duvets.
When at home, I opened the crush cage and Gammy jumped out into the dog cage, he immediately turned around and started fussing about his collar. To find out whether there was another reason other than the collar itself, i gently rubbed around it with my fingers and felt a scab. I scratched the scab off and gave the area a little rub, he seemed happier straight away and after that he didn't fuss about the collar anymore than any other domestic cat would have done.
I dished up his tea and held the bowl for him because he wasn't keen to push on the collar but happily ate his food this way, just as well because it contained all his mediaction. There was food all smeared around the inside of his collar, which he allowed me to wipe off with tissues. This routine cntinued for two weeks over Christmas, he had to go back to the vets between Christmas and New Year to have it checked and have the stitches out. I took him back in, having picked him up and put him back in the crush cage, they had to knock him out again to have a good look at the wound and they removed the stitches. He was given the all clear. When I went to collect him he was still wearing the collar, they had forgotten to remove it before waking him up. He was glad to be back in his full size pen and in his bed on the shelf after I had freed him from his collar.
The bill was £200.95p, that was my Christmas present from my dad. When I went in to pay the bill a few days later, one of the nurses approached me and asked whether I would be interested in taking on another challenge now that Gammy was fixed, (please see the Wonky story below).
Gammy was soon out and about again and all was well until January 2005.
TO BE CONTINUED. ............................................................
The Wonky Story
When I was initially approached by the veterinary nurse and asked whether I would be interested in taking on another challenge, I immediately said 'NO'. It wasn't long before I went back to ask what the story was with the proposed new challenge. The nurse told me that he needed a home because he had been taken in at the beginning of November having been a RTA victim.
He was in a bad way and was not expected to survive, his jaw had been broken and he suffered swelling the brain, which had left him blind in one eye. The intention was to keep him as the resident surgery cat but as he became more aware of his surroundings, he became more aggressive. His behaviour suggested he could be a feral cat, he then attacked the receptionist who had o go to hospital, this meant he was unsuitable to be the resident cat. I asked to see him and this was when I first met Wonky, who put his ears flat against his head and would have attacked had I continued to approach him. The staff were having to wear gauntlets etc to clean out his pen and everyone was nervous around him. I asked what would happen to him if I didn't take him, the answer was of course that he would have to be put to sleep. I suggested they contact the RSPCA and Cats Protection but they already had contacted both and neither were able to take him as they were full.
So, I said I would take him, he was to be my challenge for the New Year (2004). He stayed at the vets for another week as he had to have the jaw wire removed and it was decided that stress would be minimised if he only had to move once.
I collected him as soon as his operation was over and while he was still woozy, I put him in a pen next to Gammy but in a giant dog cage until I knew what I was dealing with. He was really scared and wasn't keen to eat. The following day he was slightly keener to eat but it seemed to take him a long time, his mouth was obviously still very painful. For the first couple of weeks I couldn't understand why he was described as aggressive because although he hadn't been close enough to touch he hadn't attacked me either. I was starting to lower my guard with him and then on a Saturday morning without obvious warning he showed me his other side, he attacked me when I was cleaning out his pen. He was wrapped around my hand and arm like a snake and I couldn't get him off, he was using his teeth and claws. Gammy was climbing up the wire going absolutely frantic. When I did get him off he had left his claw sleeves in my hand, it was like removing fishhooks. Had I not had a thick coat on my arm could have been seriously injured. After administering first aid to myself, I went to fuss Gammy because he had been so frantic when Wonky was wrapped around my arm. Gammy has never ever shown any signs of aggression towards me, but I can't say for the veterinary staff. When I went to fuss Gammy he shot passed me through the door and put his front paws through Wonky's cage grabbing hold of him. I had to split them up and since then they have hated each other.
I didn't go as far as gauntlets but I wore thick leather gloves whenever i was working around Wonky. The following month I had to go into hospital and my dad, who always said he was not a cat person, looked after them. My dad had never before cleaned out a litter tray in his life but he did for two weeks. He was also attacked by Wonky on three seperate occasions, so he said he wouldn't look after him again.
When i was well enough i started to spend time sitting with Wonky as I had for all those months with Gammy. I spent time sitting with him while he was eating and starting touching him very slowly. Wonky's eyes are different, one eye is permanently dilated, it was difficult to tell his mood. I did learn that when Wonky's eyes look the same you don't try to touch or even approach him. (If you look at both pictures of Wonky closely, you can see what I mean).
He has become quite affectionate but you need to be aware of him at all times, because he is unpredictable, I think this is due to his partial blindness and brain damage. Wonky now enjoys being fussed and he purrs very loudly.
Wonky was soon let out of the dog cage into the full size pen, although he still preferred to sleep either in or on his cage. I still fed him in the cage and he used the cage as one of his hiding places as it was covered in a duvet. He found sleeping on top of the cage on the duvet very comfy.
I had to go on a course over the Easter weekend for one day and I asked my dad to fed the animals, when I got home all had been fed except Wonky and Gammy. He would have fed Gammy if he hadn't had to go through Wonky's pen to get to his. I had to feed them when I got home, so the problem I had them was who was going to be brave enough to enter the pen if I stayed away over night? The answer: no-one I had to buy automatic feeders!!
The problem i had with the two cats was that although both are neutered (Wonky was neutered when he had his jaw wired), they hate each other. I let them out together once and Gammy hunted Wonky down, Gammy came off worst. I couldn't risk letting them out together again, so they had to go out on alternate days until Wonky was ready to be rehomed. Wonky came on leaps and bounds and now lives very happily in a family home.
Although it may look as if the RSPCA were not very helpful in Gammy's case I can see that not only the cost of the operations would have eaten into their budget but also the specialist patient care he needed in trust building over a long period of time. The staff in the rescue centres would not have been able to give the time he needed and he would have taken up a pen for a long period preventing a lot of other cat being given the opportunity to find new homes. The Cat's Protection were very helpful with Gammy in ways other than financial, they loaned me the cat trap, which enabled me to get him to the vets and they also supplied me with a voucher for his neutering.
The sense of achievement with both cats is indescribable.