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Encouraging Terra The Cat To Explore

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by thefishyone, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. thefishyone

    thefishyone Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Jan 2, 2015
    So after having been at my new place for a little over a year, Terra seems to be be secure in her ownership of my room as her territory, and will even venture outside my room into the bathroom and even my roommate’ room, where Riggs the Dog lives, so long as Riggs is not there. Riggs has learned some basic manners, such as keeping out of Terra’s food, water, and litter box, and is now welcome to visit Terra every now and then.

    Terra mostly stays upstairs, but will follow me (sometimes) if I go downstairs to eat or use the computer. She’s even gone downstairs on her own at least once, but only if Riggs is outside or not home. Terra seems to tolerate Riggs and no longer hisses at him, and in turn, Mr. Dog has learned to respect Miss Kitty’s feline sensibilities. My question to you is, how can I encourage Terra to go downstairs more often, on her own? I do not currently have the financial means to afford a cat tower for downstairs, but I could afford something like Feliway (provided that Riggs doesn’t disapprove of it, which he likely won’t, because Riggs Don’t Care(c) ). I know that when a cat catches something, even a toy, kitty now owns the space where it was caught. Could playing with Terra downstairs help her to feel more confident down there?

    I’ve heard that bulldogs are territorial, but Riggs is the canine embodiment of a log, and can’t really be bothered to care about what Terra does and where she goes. I just need to get Terra to understand that, too.
     

  2. ArtNJ

    ArtNJ TCS Member Top Cat

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    You could try to lure with toys or treats. If the dog does come near her, you could try giving her a treat or pets if she will allow it to build good associations. And you could also try bringing the dog's blanket or toy to her space, so she gets more of his scent to get used too.

    Don't waste your money on Feliway. The few studies that have been done found nothing. Some people anecdotally found it helped, some report it did nothing, just what you would expect by chance.

    If toys and treats don't work, I wouldn't force her. Let her go (or not) at her own pace. While you could theoretically try something like leaving her near the dog in her carrier for hours to desensitize her, stressing her out like that for this seems like a cure worse than the disease and could cause other stress-related problems. And I think that would be true of other methods to force the issue as well.
     

  3. thefishyone

    thefishyone Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Jan 2, 2015
    Oh, I would never use a cat carrier for training. I used the carrier once as a disciplinary tool when sh was a kitten, and I look back on it now and feel horrible.

    Treats could work (speaking of which, I need to get more). Would you recommend I give her treats every time she goes downstairs?

    I’ve tried desensitizing her to Riggs’s sent by giving him a vigorous petting, the letting Terra smell my hand immediately afterwards. I’ve only done it sporadically, so I likely need to start doing it daily.
     

  4. di and bob

    di and bob TCS Member Top Cat

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    Dec 12, 2012
    Nebraska, USA
    Rub Riggs with a towel and then rub Terra with it. It will get her more comfrotable. Cats are instinctively afraid of dogs, some much more than others, and for good reason. It sounds like Terra is somewhat shy, and defimitely afraid of changes, so slow and easy is the way to make her more comfortable. Definitely give her treats, and play with her downstairs. Anything that will make her associate good feelings with being down there, and never force her into anything. Believe it or not, because you are so close to her, it's hard for you to see how far she has come,I think she is doing especially well! soem cats take a lot longer than others, they have a shy personality, and are not as forward as many others. But she'll come around. If she is more comfortable in her own space upstairs, let her be. She knows that space as her own. a cat tree would be great as a place she could observe Riggs from, but really, any place high up would work. On top of a table would work, any place to lay a small towel fro her, or a small bed she could call her own. My Chrissy had a bed on top of the fridge for over a year!
     

  5. thefishyone

    thefishyone Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Jan 2, 2015
    di and bob, should I actually rub Terra with the Riggs towel, or would it be better to just let her smell it, and decide for herself if she wants to smell like Riggs? Riggs has a skin condition that makes him smell like a man’s dog. I believe it’s genetic, so not contagious, but the smell is strong enough that a human can smell it. I’m afraid if I rub Terra with that towel, she won’t smell like herself, and become very insecure.
     

  6. di and bob

    di and bob TCS Member Top Cat

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    Dec 12, 2012
    Nebraska, USA
    Well, that is true. Maybe just let her smell the towel. Good luck!
     

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