Thursday, August 2, 2012
The cats are starting to adjust to their new home
One of my biggest concerns when planning this move from Ohio to Arizona was how my cats, Calcifer and Ginko, would adjust to a totally new environment. The first challenge was the 6 hour plane ride. Neither of my cats had done much traveling of any sort, so I knew they would be scared. To make them as comfortable as possible in their carriers I put their favorite towels in the bottom and sprayed them with Feliway, which is recommended by vets to keep cats calm in stressful situations. My brother's fiance came to help me with the cats, which were considered one of our carry on items (Southwest airlines allows 2 carry ons). We each carried one of the cat carriers, which were placed under the seats in front of us during the flight. I was really surprised at how well the cats did, and I know the Feliway helped a lot. After we landed in Phoenix we still had to rent a car and drive about 2 hours to Prescott. During the flight and the car ride I kept talking softly to Calcifer and Ginko to help keep them calm and let them know that I was nearby.
When we finally got to the house both cats were exhausted and more than ready to get out of their carriers. I went into the first empty bedroom to let them out and Ginko hopped up into the window while Calcifer curled up in the corner of the closet. Unfortunately Mother's large German Shepherd, Reisha happened to be on the other side of the window and started barking at the cat. This scared the poor kitty and I spent the next half hour trying to comfort him and calm him down. I was also completely exhausted by this time since I hadn't slept in about a week. So our first night in the new place was a bit rough.
But over the next few days we all started to relax and feel more at home. I moved the cats (and myself) into the larger bedroom and plugged in a Feliway diffuser to help create a calm environment. This room also had a closet (or cupboards) with shelves and Calcifer claimed the bottom cupboard as his "house". This was his safe space and whenever the dogs barked or something made him nervous he could go in there and feel safe.
We now have a routine where I lock the dogs up for a bit in the evening and allow Ginko and Calcifer roam the house safely. It didn't take too long before curiosity won out over fear and Ginko made the first bold steps to explore the new house. He did a bit of reconnaissance, deemed it safe, and went back to tell Calcifer about it. So Cacifer followed his little brother and discovered for himself that this new place was pretty interesting. Of course any time something frightens them they hurry back to the safety of their room, but they're much quicker to come back out now. They enjoy playing with the hapless June bugs and large beetles that sometimes find their way into the house ;-) They find the sink to be a fun place to explore as well.
They spend most of the day lounging and sleeping in their room with me (funny how I call it THEIR room- LOL), and evenings are spent playing and roaming the house. One thing is sure- they are much more relaxed here with me, Mother, and all the other animals than they were with my ex back in Ohio. Ginko has stopped trying to steal Calcifer's food and Calcifer is eating much more than he used to, which is good because he was a bit underweight. Stress affects animals just as much as it affects people. Sometimes you need to take them out of that stressful situation to even realize that they've been affected.
In my next post I'll introduce you to the rest of the critters I share my home with.