In the second part of a behaviour modification plan, I give owners the following ‘house rules’ with the idea of getting them to change their own behaviour so that they no longer constitute an unpredictable stress factor in their cat’s environment.
Owners often continue to treat their cats the way they have been doing for years, without giving it much thought or questioning it. Presenting owners with a set of house rule can be an uncomfortable experience at times because owners aren’t always keen on examining their own behaviour. They like the way they treat their cat, get pleasure out of it and will regularly go against my advice.
Many of my rules seem to go against the grain because owners feel that they might weaken their relationship with their cat which is mainly due to the fact that I advocate reducing contact with their cat. But here’s the fun bit: you get the opposite effect!
The purpose of these ‘house rules’ is to make you, as owner, predictable, lovely and safe in your cat’s eyes so that she pays more attention to you, seeks more contact, is less stressed by contact and so that you have less of an impact on your cat’s ‘threshold of arousal’.
In addition, sticking to my 5 golden rules’ (STEPS 16-20) will actively influence your cat’s mood and state of mind, making her more resilient to stress within her environment.
It’s simple: even if you only stick to the following rules half the time, you will notice a remarkable difference in your cat’s stress levels, an improvement in the bond with your cat and a change in your relationship that’s for the better. Mind you, I genuinely hope you’ll manage to stick to these rules three quarters of the time! And before you start fretting, of course you can still give your cat an occasional hug, provided you keep it short!