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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Animal Behaviourists – Worth it or Not?

Before you decide, the following really happened to us.

In December 2014 we did a show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and on the first day we spotted a cat walking around the venue, looking all at home. Unusual for a feral cat, it seemed to enjoy human company and it was not at all fazed by all the loud sounds and activity.

At that time we only had two dogs and one cat and had been thinking about another cat, but decided we will not go out and look for one, the right cat will find us.

Of course, the CTICC cat was immediately looked at as if it was the “right cat”. That it seemed comfortable on my lap being fed pieces of biltong, helped its case a lot.

On day two Gerda had a closer look and suggested that the cat may be pregnant, it also looked so comfortable in its surroundings that we sort of decided to leave it there. I mean children were carrying it around and it certainly was not thin.

The last day of the show (Thursday) we were asked if we wanted to take the cat as the SPCA had been called to fetch the cat – No brainer, as one we said, “We’ll take it!” It was promptly closed up in a room with water and some nibbles, hidden away from any potential “fetchers”.

Of course we had no idea how we were going to get her home, as we had not planned to take her, therefore no cat basket.

After the show we packed up, Gerda fetched kitty, and we got into the car with kitty on Gerda’s lap, where she sat contentedly till we got home.

That is where the chaos started.

Gerda stayed in the car with kitty while I fetched the cat box, not thinking, I let the dogs out. They immediately stormed the car the say hello and see what was on Gerda’s lap. We got kitty into the box and as we lifted it out the dogs came sniffing and kitty went ballistic – probably she had never seen a dog before. I took her up to my study, got water and food for her and let her out of the box (door closed, dogs sniffing on the other side).

After getting over her initial fright she seemed to calm down and even purred when I picked her up.

Friday morning first thing it was off the vet who confirmed that she was pregnant, early enough to have it “sorted out”.  This, and the sterilisation, was done later that day and she went home late Friday afternoon – this time we kept the dogs away until she was safe in “her room”.

Later that evening she was walking around, eating, drinking and, for all intents and purposes, being merry.

On Saturday we took turns in going to her and spending some time with her. She was also named – Isis, for the Egyptian goddess, not the other lot!

Things progressed smoothly, as it had in the past when we got new cats in the house. By Sunday morning I thought it was time to introduce the two cats to each other. Simple, have done it often before. Yeah, right.

As I walked into the room holding Cipia (older, female cat and long time resident), Isis came flying out of nowhere, in serious attack mode! No growling, no posturing, no warning, straight into the attack! I still don’t know who got the biggest shock, me or Cipia. After a hasty retreat, I treated my wounds, literal and figurative ones, and thought about what went wrong. It was so far from my previous experiences, that I was completely shocked.

Some time later I went back to Isis and she promptly attacked me (in hindsight, it was probably the loose pants I was wearing that scared her) – Now I was really in shock! What is going on?

Completely dumbfounded, we actually started contemplating finding an alternative home for Isis. Gerda eventually found an animal behaviourist to call first thing on Monday and we agreed to wait and see.

Monday was still thinking about starting when Gerda got hold of John Faul who agreed to come out on Wednesday and help us. He actually rescheduled other appointments to help us as soon as he could.

I am not going into detail about how John Faul worked, suffice it to say that it was the best thing we could’ve done! He was absolutely brilliant and within two hours had our house a place of peace and calm where everybody knew their place and had agreed to get along.

Now, almost a year later, the two cats play together and both tolerate the dogs (as cats do). The dogs love both cats and a lot of cross grooming happens. All four of them often share our bed on cold nights and never is there any sense of tension.

By now you know where I am heading: Animal Behaviourists – Worth it or Not? A resounding YES from us, it was worth it. Had it not been for John Faul, we would’ve missed out on a lot of love and cuddles from Isis.

By the way, Isis still pops into the study when I am working and often impedes my typing by insisting on being on my lap and getting her head scratched.

If you have a look at our Web site (, you will see Isis on Our Clients page - She is the one asking for a bed, Cipia, of course is Senior Cat.