Courage, cat owners
I’ve always been good with cats: they know I love them and I can usually figure out what they’re trying to tell me. When one of my then 5 ½-year-old male cats began spraying back in November (now 10 months ago), I was stymied. We did everything responsible pet owners would do: call the vet, check online, ask friends, etc. The vet had suggested we might want to try therapy—for the cat. I was close to needing therapy myself by the time I contacted Mary.
The questionnaire she had me fill out prior to our two-hour session was extensive, but I ploughed through it and provided as much information as I could. (I know she needed to ask the question, but when I saw ‘Have you considered euthanasia?’ I was just struck with how seriously pet behavior affects owners’ lives.)
The session was instructive. We—my husband and I and the vet—had already attributed the unwanted behavior to a stray that continues to roam the neighborhood and irritate our two (littermate) male cats through the screened in porch. Mary cited a possible event and decided we needed to also, and maybe first, treat a relational problem between the two cats. During the session, Mary offered a host of things we could do to identify the triggers and alleviate the stress. She also noted that our contract with her provided for 4 months of contact during treatment.
Folks, it takes a while, so be patient. This is behavior modification not recovery from a scratch. Don’t refer to the unwanted behavior ‘accidents’ because they’re not; I call them ‘episodes’. Mary had me keep a diary of every episode and I found the recording very instructive. When something I tried didn’t work, she offered an alternative. We’ve had long stretches of acceptable behavior and then an episode.
We’re past our 4-month mark, and we still have episodes, but their frequency has already diminished significantly. Working with Mary is a long term investment that pays huge dividends. She is frank, incredibly knowledgeable, and will make you a more responsive pet parent!
Ann R. from Columbia, MD