Living With A Paranoid Cat

Posted By on 13th November 2017

Regular readers might remember how, just about a year ago, we lost Leonard and found Poppy. You might also remember how we were surprised to find out from her original owner how old she is, somewhere about 15 years now.

It soon became clear that Poppy was like no cat we’d ever had, in fact 12 months on I think it’s fair to say she’s paranoid. (Or is it me ??)

Here’s what I mean. She happily joins me in the bedroom and helps me change the bedding, sheets and duvet covers flung around in gay abandon do not faze her. Nor does sitting on the windowsill next to the phone when it rings. However, if I approach her with a dish of her favourite food she turns tail and runs. You’d think I was coming at her with a large axe!

The last year has been a roller coaster ride. As a life long cat owner I thought I had a pretty good idea about what makes them tick, but Poppy hasn’t read the script, doesn’t conform and has been a steep learning curve.

I had hoped that with a loving home and lots of attention she would stop being scared of her own shadow and settle down into domestic bliss and a pampered old age. Poppy had other ideas.

Don’t get me wrong she’s a sweet girl and when relaxed loves to play and be made a fuss of, but the problem is she’s hardly ever relaxed. In Poppy’s world there is always something waiting to ‘get’ her, sometimes even me.

We had begun having trouble a few months into our relationship at bedtimes when I tried to put her in the porch for the night. A large area made up of 3 ‘rooms’ with a huge window to look out of and all facilities. She hated it.

In the end I started letting her out at night as that’s what I thought she preferred even though, unlike the porch, ‘outside’ was full of things that could do her harm or scare her. This system was working well until August when several things happened all in the space of a few days.

Grayson the friendly stray was hit by a car and came to us for help, so we brought him into the house to look after him. Poppy didn’t like that, but as long as we kept them in different rooms we managed OK.

Next we had a visit from a neighbour who brought her little dog with her. Nothing wrong with that either but Poppy disappeared for the rest of the day, whilst Grayson, a few days after his accident, slept through the whole thing!

The last straw was when a marauding Siamese with a triangular face attacked her in the garden for no reason. She was off and we didn’t see her again for 2 days.

After that it all got very frustrating. Sometimes she’d come back, sometimes she wouldn’t. Sometimes she wanted to come in and stay sometimes she didn’t.

I called on all my previous cat experience to try and understand what was going on in her little furry head, but I simply couldn’t work out why she would prefer the scary outdoors to the safety and comfort of our house. Even with another cat in residence, there is plenty of room to keep the 2 of them separate.

After one particularly long absence, during which time I watched her through the bedroom window running across the busy road, my heart was in my mouth, she re-appeared in the garden around 1pm.

Clearly hungry, all attempts at coaxing her in with her favourite treat were viewed with suspicion. I moved 1 step towards her, food in outstretched arm, she retreated 2 steps in the other direction, usually in the direction of the road!

This ‘cat and Judith’ game continued all afternoon. In the end we resorted to plan ‘Z’, the previous 25 having proved useless, and tried to lure her into the house with a wide open door and a bowl of food in a carefully calculated place on the kitchen floor. No human intervention, just Peter and I strategically placed to spring the trap once she was inside.

Even this was frustrating as she took 2 steps towards the door, then stopped to wash her leg and then go back 1 step. Come forward 3 steps, stop to inspect a blade of grass, go back 2 steps. Come a little nearer then get distracted by a moving leaf or a passing butterfly before returning to look at the blade of grass she checked 5 minutes ago.

And so it continued until just before 4pm (yes, almost 3 hours) when I had to leave my post because I needed the bathroom. Sods law being what it is, when I came back to the kitchen there she was eating her food. Problem was I was out of position and Peter, from his vantage point, had no idea she was even in the building.

Ever tried shouting without actually raising your voice? It’s not easy, but thankfully Peter got the message and the door was shut behind her. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief and reached for the nearest bottle of alcohol.

Since then I haven’t let her out and in the beginning this worried me greatly, but to be honest it soon became clear it wasn’t bothering her bit.

She’s back to spending the night in the porch, but I’m 12 months wiser now and can normally outwit her at bedtime. Grayson is 95% recovered (the 5% being his tail) and although he was supposed to move out after convalescing, he still seems to be here, though he does go out at night.

It might not be the ideal situation, but Poppy’s safe and it stops us from worrying about her and she seems happy enough which is the main thing, so it will do for me for now.

So there we are, all you need to know about living with a paranoid pensioner called Poppy!

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