SASSY & SOPHIE ARE IN THE SAME ROOM TOGETHER!!!
For anyone new to our blog or for anyone who doesn’t know Sassy’s story, let me give a short recap. She came to us as a stray in November of 2013 – a little over a year ago. She was (and is) very sweet, but she was also rather temperamental. One moment she would be happily laying in my lap purring, and the next she would be hissing and biting me for seemingly no reason. I can’t even keep count of how many times she’s bitten me and drawn blood.
(Before anyone suggests that her bad temperament is the result of a health issue, she has been the vet and everything is normal and healthy.)
The other cats?! Well, being around them was out of the question. At the sight or smell of any of the other cats, Sassy would go into a hissy fit. She wanted nothing to do with them. Because of her temperament issues, she has had to be kept separated from the other cats. The upstairs of our house is her domain. Sassy is also FIV+, but that on it’s own is not a problem. However, FIV and biting is not a good combination.
I’m not going to speculate as to why Sassy is the way she is – I have no idea. I don’t know her past, I don’t know where she came from, and I don’t know how she contracted FIV (although I can assume it was most likely from fighting). I just know that I couldn’t let her coexist with the other cats as long as she was biting me hard enough to draw blood and as long as she freaked out at the sight of other cats.
Over the past year, we have been working with Sassy to make steps towards her coexisting with the others. We’ve spent lot of time with her, just loving on her and cuddling. We’ve put Delilah/Sampson/Sophie in a carrier and brought them into Sassy’s upstairs territory so she could see and smell them. We’ve used positive reinforcement by feeding Sassy on one side of the door while the other cats were on the opposite side. For a long time, it seemed like a lost cause. Sassy’s temperament never seemed to get better, I always had scratches and bite marks on my hands (and sometimes face), and her attitude towards the other cats never seemed to change. To be honest, I’ve felt like giving up on many occasions. I knew I could never give up on Sassy though – I believe in her and love her too much to do that.
In the last month or two things have begun to change. She has been calmer, less temperamental. Our cuddling and lovey times haven’t been ending in a hissing and biting rage. I can’t remember the last time she drew blood. I’ve carried Sophie into Sassy’s territory, and Sassy has barely seemed to care, maybe issuing the obligatory hiss and then carrying on with her business. So last week, I asked my husband to bring Sophie into Sassy’s territory and set her down on the futon. He was sure not to take his hands off Sophie in case she needed to be extracted quickly, but in she came! Sassy looked up when Sophie came into the room, but she didn’t hiss. She didn’t growl. She didn’t attack or run away. I got a bag of treats and gave Sassy some in front of where Sophie was (Sophie got some too, of course). Sassy gobbled them right up, never seeming to care that Sophie was right there, one foot away from her. She did eventually hiss one time, but that was it.
It was amazing. One year ago, or even just 4-5 months ago, this would have never happened.
We still have some work to do before Sassy can freely coexist with the other cats, but I am filled with so much hope that that time is not too far off. She has come so far, and I just know that it’s possible. And I can’t wait!!!
2 more days!!!
From now until February 14th, 100% of the proceeds made from any bow tie and flower sales will be donated to Catwork in support of the “Real-Life FIV” project they are working on. You can read more about the project in our blog post from last week. The bow ties and flowers make super cute accessories for your pet. If your pet does not wear a collar or would not like wearing one, you can always purchase one for an animal at your local shelter. Who knows — they may help attract the attention of a potential adopter!
Please help us spread the word about FIV and to raise awareness for this misunderstood disease!