Lulu the Cat regains her Confidence.
Lulu had become increasingly frightened of the others and avoided going near them. This is how she regained her confidence!
Lulu the cat had, over several months developed a strong fear of the other cats. No one actively bullied her but little by little she started avoiding everyone and staying in Nick's bedroom.
She was afraid to go to her food and to her litter.
The cats have access to the whole area including the enclosed back yard, but Lulu's world had shrunk to one room. She left it at the risk of her life in her mind. She was not getting into fights, she was just afraid.
She would venture out to follow Nick but only very hesitantly. She was beginning to have "accidents".
In order to help reduce the fear level I installed a kids gate at the top of the stairs where Lulu's territory starts. This was a wooden gate I bought from Zellers. It is not terribly high and a determined cat can either jump over it or jump to the railing and get around the fence. The fence was attached loosely to the wall and railing and a determined cat could push his way in.
Results were almost immediate. Winston figured out how to jump up and continued visiting Lulu, luckily she considers Winston more with annoyance than fear. After all she knew him when he was just a pipsqueek!
The other cats came and inspected the fence and stayed on their side. A few registered complaints to the management but did not escalate grievances any further.
I showed Lulu the new arrangement and she inspected it with great care. She then ran back to her bedroom not fully understanding the importance of the fence.
Fast forward a few days and we find Lulu on one side of the fence, Johan on the other, and Lulu heartily telling him off. She had figured out that he could not come after her.
When I went upstairs sometimes a cat would rush in with me and I would put them back out. Lulu watched and approved of this.
Within a couple of weeks Lulu figured out that the other cats could not come into HER space and that she was safe there. She spent time looking down at the "ennemies" and almost thumbing her nose at them. They were somewhat annoyed but nothing earthshattering.
Within a few days Lulu had figured out that she could get out by jumping down from the bannister or pushing the bottom of the fence so she could get through. She could also come back in the same way. She would come and visit, armed with her new self-confidence, then go home.
We gradually became more relaxed about closing the fence till eventually it stood partly open most of the time. Lulu did not mind, she had regained her confidence. Occasionally she gets annoyed so we close the fence and Lulu is happy.
Once again Lulu has the run of the whole house and the back garden. She has been cured of a fear that could have made her a very neurotic and unhappy cat.
The fence will stay in position since it makes Lulu happy.
What worked to give Lulu back her courage?
Probably a combination of clearly excluding the others, both by a fence AND by the action of kicking out any intruder. This gave a clear message to Lulu and gave her an easily defensible territory. It gave her the upper paw in controlling who comes into her space.
It is possible that Lulu gained some status by this adventure and figures she has my support. She has been much friendlier to me lately.
No more accidents and no reluctance to go the the food dish. Lulu is back to normal!
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