Tough Love for Tabby
by Maureen Rogers
(Lake Forest Park, WA)
Doc - Born to be WILD!
TOUGH LOVE FOR TABBY
After three years of wildlife sightings in the house, I was ready to drop our cat off at the nearest shelter. Doc, our usually charming tabby (named so because of the white surgical shaped mask around his mouth and nose) had free in and out privileges since my husband installed a cat door in the basement.
During that time we were gifted with a number of dead or nearly dead rats, mice moles, a large squirrel and a few fluttering birds. The cat psychology books tell us as good parents we should shower our pets with praise for their hunting skills. After all it’s instinctive behavior our darling felines are killing to please us. I’m sure they’re right, but I’ve never been able to squelch a scream when a 6-inch headless rat is dropped at my feet or remain calm when a twittering sparrow flies in panicky circles in my kitchen.
Hunger was not the issue for Doc. The most expensive cat food on the market did not dampen his thrill for the kill. Keeping him indoors seemed like the obvious solution, but Doc was born outside, under the porch across the street and raised by a feral mother his first few weeks. He was part of the neighborhood wildlife and I knew he’d be depressed and frustrated if we relegated him to life inside. I’m quite sure he'd soon find new adventures like climbing my drapes and shredding the furniture. And the caterwauling would go on for days.
If we couldn’t change Doc's hunting behavior, we finally decided, we'd change our own. We would apply some tough love. My husband nailed shut the basement cat door. From then on all entry to the house was monitored at the front and back door. Whenever he asked to come in we made sure that nothing was dangling from his mouth.
I’m happy to report the strategy worked. After a few days Doc accepted the change with little more than a puzzled look. We still find the occasional gift on the porch or in the yard, but generally life is a whole lot calmer these days.