Integrating ReneeChapter 6: Beginning to see the light
Since I last posted, we’ve made so much progress. But let's start back where I left off…
Binx and Renee had re-started barrier-free time, starting with a small amount of time and working into more prolonged periods and into closer proximity. Re-doing this step was due to the fact that Binx had been acting aggressively towards Sophie (which is very unusual for him), and Renee had peed outside her box a couple of times, indicating that they were stressed out (Thankfully, the peeing was not due to health issues). So, we backed up, took a small hiatus, then re-started that particular step. Thankfully it worked the second time, and after a while, they were doing so well that we could leave them together for an hour or so and can relax our supervision of them a bit. This was such a huge relief. We were back on track!
On a side note, during that time, my husband accidentally left the door in the baby gate unlatched. He came back upstairs about 10 minutes later and realized what had happened. He asked me if Renee had come upstairs, but I had been doing dishes and was making far too much noise to notice. I was sure she hadn’t but looked around anyway. I went into the master bedroom and saw Sophie standing on the far side of the bed, looking down inquisitively. I was sure it was just Binx, but lo and behold. It was Renee standing on the floor by the bed. I don’t know how long they’d been like that, but I was absolutely astonished that there hadn’t been a major battle between these two. I also saw that Binx was under the bed during this time. This was NOT the way I wanted to learn if Sophie and Renee would get along in a barrier-free situation or if Binx was still territorial of the master bedroom, but it’s a victory I’m willing to take. We weren’t ready to start barrier-free time with Sophie just yet, but it seems more promising than I’d initially hoped.
About a week or so in, we decided that Binx and Renee were doing so well with barrier-free time upstairs in the common areas that it was time to take Binx downstairs. This had been a problem for them before, as Renee felt this was her kingdom (queendom?) and hers alone! The first time we tried it, the pessimist in me was expecting to have about 20 seconds pass before a spat broke out, and we’d have to quickly separate them again. But they had been doing well thus far, so we crossed our fingers and lured Binx downstairs. He snooped around a bit, and Renee didn’t swat or growl at him and just sniffed him a bit, then walked off. They even got to playing with the wand toy, taking turns with it a little ways away from each other. I made sure we didn’t spend too much time down there on the first day of this, but I was SO proud of those two that they could manage to get along on her “turf.” We made sure to reward them with lots of praise, petting, and treats. We did this for a couple more days, and it was clear by then that this was working out, and we could lay off the helicopter parenting during these sessions.
Then one night, as if by magic, during their barrier-free session upstairs, they actually played with each other a bit. This was so great to see! (We were careful to keep a close eye on it, as we wanted to be sure this was indeed play and not aggression.) They had found the grocery bag I’d left on the floor for them to play with, and they got on opposite sides and were tapping each other around it. Then Renee chased Binx down the hall. We waited to see if there was any fighting, but they just stopped, turned around, and then Binx chased Renee back out to the dining room. No growling, hissing, puffing up, smacking, nada. We were so excited that these two had come so far.
So, today we are at the point where we can keep the baby gate door open and let Binx and Renee have run of (most of) the house. (Sophie is still kept in the master bedroom during these times.) They do not have to be monitored, although we’ve yet to leave the house with them both out together. We generally find Binx downstairs in the climb, watching birds, and Renee upstairs chilling out in the kitchen or in the guest bedroom climb. It’s such a relief to know that we can trust these two! I do feel here that I need to mention that we don’t let this go on all day, as Sophie is still in the master bedroom while this is all going on. I sometimes stay in there with her, but when I’m not, I also keep an ear out for her if she wants out, at which point Renee (and sometimes Binx, too) will go back downstairs for a while. I don’t want to make it sound like Sophie is just locked in the bedroom and forgotten about.
Now, while we can trust Renee around Binx, we are still having some issues with her snooping around the house. The irony is that she’s doing exactly what Binx did when we first brought him home. When she has access to the upstairs, she’ll get on the back of the couch and jump onto the ledge of the window above our front door. She’s so large, however, that she can’t turn around to get out of it and needs rescuing (exactly like Binx did). Thankfully my husband is quite tall and has “monkey arms,” as he likes to joke, and can reach up and get her down safely. She obviously knows she can trust him because one day, he was like, “Did you see that? She just did a trust fall into my hands!” With Binx, it took him a couple of times before he learned not to go into that particular window, and we’re hoping Renee will learn quickly too. We’re already seeing a decrease in that activity and are hopeful she’ll have it figured out soon. In the meantime, we’re getting lots of laughs out of her and the fact that she is not a “self-rescuing princess.”
Needless to say, the past few weeks around here have been quite peaceful. We let Sophie have some alone time in the bedroom to nap and not be pestered by the youngsters and let Binx and Renee chill out around the house. It’s been so nice not to have any cat drama that we’ve been putting off starting this whole process over with Renee and Sophie. We know it’s going to be hard and will probably take more time than we want it to, but we know it’s best for everyone in the end. If I’m being totally honest with myself, we could be lazy and just continue to live like we’re doing now. But we know it wouldn’t be fair to the cats. So, after a couple of peaceful, drama-free weeks here, my husband says to me one evening, “I think it’s time we sat down with Sophie and had the talk.”
Here we go again.