Pet Parenting
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Good Health Makes a Confident Cat: Tara’s Reintroduction

When I treated my scaredy cat for a UTI, she became the brave kitty I knew she was.

JaneA Kelley  |  Jul 6th 2016


A while back, I wrote about my sweet “surprise kitty,” Tara, and how we struggled for months to treat her inappropriate urination issues and fear. When I took her to the vet and we did blood and urine tests, they revealed a urinary tract infection.

A tuxedo cat waits at the vet's office. Photo by JaneA Kelley

When I took Tara to the vet, I found out she had a urinary tract infection.

It was no wonder she was so fearful and certainly no wonder that she was peeing where she shouldn’t.

I had hoped that when I got her treated, things would get better for her and she’d be able to integrate into my feline family, but I knew only time would tell.

I had no idea how little time that would be.

To give Tara time to recover and minimize her stress, I put her in my bedroom, the only room other than my bathroom that has a door. I hoped that by giving her some space, she’d get her courage up and start showing herself rather than hiding in the closet or under the bed.

Just one day after starting antibiotics, I came into my room to find Tara lounging at foot of my bed and basking in a sun puddle.

The same night, she came to bed with me and curled up next to my head, where she purred me to sleep.

I was thrilled! But I knew better than to move too fast when reintroducing her to Thomas and Bella.

Although the two of them were quite perturbed that I was sleeping in the bedroom with the door closed – they were used to sleeping with me, too – there was only a little bit of scratching at the carpet by the door and meowing. They, too, seemed to understand that Tara needed time to recover and get her courage back up.

600 thomas sniffs tara

I tried to keep Thomas and Bella out of the bedroom, but it was only a week or so before Thomas started rushing in when I opened the door to collect Tara’s food dish at mealtimes.

“Be nice, Thomas,” I warned him.

I wasn’t sure he was going to listen because he so desperately wanted to be Tara’s friend, and I was afraid he would rush the introduction and produce a setback.

But it was not to be.

Instead, this happened.

600 400 introductory lick

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600 400 lick 2

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Yes, that’s right: My sweet Tara was working up her courage and allowing Thomas to bathe her!

You can see by her ear position that although she loves it in the beginning, it doesn’t take her too terribly long to start thinking, “Oh my gosh, what is this? It feels good but it’s kind of scary at the same time!”

When Thomas’ quest for friendship (and head bathing) began, Tara ran under the bed after a few licks in order to collect herself again. But now, a few weeks later, she’s allowing Thomas to bathe her as much as he wants.

600 400 not sure what to make of it

Yes, she’s still startled, but she’s now realizing he’s a friend and not a foe.

This is a huge step forward. Before I had Tara treated for her UTI, she would hiss and run away from him at the slightest provocation. Now, a month and a half later, she’s feeling better and slowly integrating into our household.

But what about Bella, you may ask.

Bella’s still getting used to Tara, too. She previously would hiss at Tara and run away. Then their communication came in the form of little hisses from Bella, and Bella standing her ground. These days, they can look at each other from a short distance apart and there’s no hissing and no fearful body language.

And then there’s this. What an amazing turn of events!

bella-status-update-7-1

Tara’s story is living proof of how much an illness can change a cat’s temperament. Now that she’s feeling better, she’s becoming more outgoing and less fearful. I’m continuing the reintroduction, moving slowly to make sure everyone is as stress-free as possible.

Time and patience are going to be the key in bringing Tara fully into my cat family, and I’ve got ample supplies of both. But for now, I’m just incredibly grateful that things are going so well.

600-400 tara gets love