by Mary Kennedy
As promised, here is how I cured Henry of *most* of his sociopathic tendencies. If you remember Henry's story from last week, he was on his way to being a full-fledged sociopath, without conscience or remorse. Let's face it, if Henry was a teen-ager, he'd be spending a lot of time in juvie.
When I first adopted Henry, (rescued from the neighborhood) I heard from the grapevine that he's already lost two or three homes because of his "aggressive tendencies." I had to keep him in the garage for the first couple of months. I'd let him inside to eat and how did he repay me? He'd race around the den like a maniac, beat up my seven cats and then run back out to the garage. So frustrating. I called him "Gladiator Cat" and wondered how in the world I would ever tame him. He was very friendly and affectionate to humans so I was baffled by his behavior towards his fellow cats.
I asked myself what "treatment plan" I would devise if Henry were a client. (I'm a clinical psychologist.) I decided unconditional love and LOTS of attention might be the answer. So here's what I did; it was amazingly simple and best of all, it worked!
1. I set aside 20 minutes a day just for Henry. Yes, I know I could have been learning Mandarin or doing Pilates but I figured I owed Henry 20 minutes to help change his little cat life around. (and my life, of course.)
2. We went to a special place for the 20 minutes and I sat with him on the glassed-in sun porch. No other cats were allowed out there for our special time together. (they had their cute little cat faces pressed against the glass, as if wondering why "the evil cat" was getting all the attention.) As soon as I unlocked the door to the porch, Henry ran eagerly ahead of me, knowing he was going to have my undivided attention. It was the highlight of his day.
3. I made sure I had a nice selection of cat toys (he loves catnip mice and also those "cat dancer" toys with feathers on the end.) I also had an assortment of grooming supplies, brushes and combs.
4. For 20 minutes every day, I gave Henry unconditional love and attention. I played with him, groomed him, pet him, gave him tummy rubs and he purred happily the whole time. I think he was amazed at his good fortune.
5. I started noticing changes in his behavior right away. He's still not a model citizen of course, but he is so much better! He very occasionally has a "stand-off" with one of his housemates, but he has stopped attacking them, stopped "menacing" them and has even leaned over and started grooming one of the female cats. What a transformation!
6. It took about 3 solid weeks of my "program" to turn things around and I never missed a day. It was so worth it!! Henry is fun, playful and a very sweet cat to have around. It was a small price to pay to change this little sociopath into an adorable pet. If you're having behavioral problems with your pet, I hope you'll try my method. I hope you have good luck with it and I'd love to hear how things go.