Thursday, February 23, 2017

Coaxing #Felines To Trust--#Cats This Week by Karen Rose Smith

This week I feel we took another step forward in our relationship with our outside duo, Bonnie and Clyde. They have been visiting us for over a year, and last February after we lost Sunnybud, our other daily visitor with whom I had developed a special relationship, their visits became more regular and we began the long journey of developing a trust relationship with the sibling duo. They had clipped ears, which meant they had been captured, neutered and released. But that experience had apparently deepened their mistrust of humans. 

Through last summer, Bonnie and Clyde came daily to our outside feeding stations and eventually to a feeding spot inside the basement door. We slowly acclimated them to enter through a cat door (with the flap taped open) and through early winter, they came twice daily for their meals. But they were extremely skittish and ran at the slightest movement. Slowly I managed to pet Clyde and now he likes a daily rub while he is eating, but Bonnie still will not tolerate human contact. Ironically, other than that, she is the more social of the two. 

As the cold winter months arrived, we began closing the basement door behind them during the evening feeding and they spent the cold nights in our heated basement. At first they were slightly wary of the new arrangement but they returned each night for their safe shelter. I spent time with them in the morning before opening the door to give them the option of staying or exploring their outside world. They often remained inside and sometimes even returned for an afternoon nap. However, they still displayed a fear of human contact.

A week or so ago, I began leaving catnip toys on the basement floor to occupy them during the long night. Our trail camera caught photos of them playing with the toys and, in the morning, the area rugs were often crumbled from their playtime antics. This week, I decided to try a wand with a colorful streamer to encourage more direct interaction. Clyde was somewhat hesitant to engage, but Bonnie immediately took to chasing and playing tug of war with the streamer. Clyde watched from a distance, then joined in as well.

I also tried a pet light, which is a small flashlight-like toy that projects an image on the floor. Both cats immediately chased the mouse and the paw around the basement. This engagement seems to have marked another step in building trust. Now they hop through the door each evening not just to eat...but to play. Often they play before they eat. And in the morning, they often return to the basement when my husband cleans out their liter box, wanting to play again. 


Regardless of how engaged they are in our new interactions and how close they will scurry to capture the mouse light, they (especially Bonnie) still shy away from our hands and our touch. Sometimes we feel we are so close and yet so far from that relationship of total trust. But then we look into Bonnie's big green eyes and we realize how far she has come and believe, with patience, she will eventually accept our offer of protection...and safety...and love.   


Search For Love series, Book 9

The Search for Love romance series includes:

SEARCH FOR LOVE series website 


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 97th novel will be released in 2017.
Karen and Paddy

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

©2017 Karen Rose Smith

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