It’s been about 6 weeks now since cats Billy and Raven, dog Max and I left our home in Minnesota and moved to Illinois.
The invitation to come to Illinois came about quickly and unexpectedly. In less than four weeks almost 3 decades of Minnesota belongings were either packed, stored, sold or donated. Essentials were loaded in the car, good-byes were said and the 4 of us hit the road.
There were SO many things to think of in preparing for the move: the logistics of the move itself, utility notifications, notifying the post office, updating professional places such as dentist, insurance, banks etc. Not to mention the logistics with the animals, making sure both Raven or Billy were nowhere near the boxes to be packed and that Max still got his playtime and walks. (Click here for a checklist for moving with pets.) I did all in my power to make this move as easy as possible on all of us.
Not All is Well
We arrived safely in Illinois and settled into our new lifestyle. I am in my home state among friends, Max has a new dog friend to play and romp with, Raven loves being the chief mouser and lurking on the top platform of the gigantic cat tree in the living room. My energy and attention became focused on getting my horse Shiloh to Illinois.
But Billy? I assumed all was well, but Billy did not adjust as harmoniously as the rest of us appeared to. He is my sensitive one, the one who puts up a tough yet needy front when he is scared and feeling insecure. I know this about him, yet no matter how much I communicated with him, how much I tried to calm him, no matter what stones, essences or pheromones I used, nothing worked. At my wits’ end, I was loosing patience with Billy and he started spending time in the bedroom, away from all of us.
It came to a head one day when Billy was in the kitchen and aggressively hissed at one of my friend’s sweet, gentle 6 pound cat. It started a dominoes effect: the dogs came running, cornered the sweet little girl and the entire episode basically scared the beejezus out of us humans. Luckily, no one was injured.
Cat Billy Communicates His Needs
It’s always been hardest for me to connect objectively with my own animals when I’m worried and stressed. Luckily I know that about myself, so I have a list of communicators I will ask to connect with my crew when I am unable to do so. I contacted good friend and colleague Kris Scanlon of Talk Pawsitive. She immediately checked in with Billy to see what was going on from his perspective.
He’s feeling alienated and not told what’s going on. Like he’s the one always left out of decisions, talks and stuff.
He’s having a hard time with the move because everyone else adjusted so quickly and he just doesn’t know how to do it that fast. He takes more time than the others. He knows he should just get over it, but he doesn’t know how to do it that fast. He takes more time than the others. He’s unsure of his place in the family right now, like he isn’t even part of it. He feels he doesn’t matter and nobody cares anyway. Then he gets into trouble and that’s the only time he’s noticed.
Everyone is walking by, happy and going about their day. I see it in the kitchen more than anywhere else (place associated for family gatherings?) and no one sees him. The loud noises from the shoes make him press up against the wall even more to hide from the PTSD he’s experiencing. While part of him doesn’t want to be seen and blend in, the other part needs the comfort and reassurance from the panic attack.
[The other cat] made some comment to him about getting over it and he reacted. She didn’t mean harm, but he reacted to her. The dogs’ reaction was to try and pull him back to the present, but it didn’t work. [The other dog] is worried about him, as is Max, but Max knows he’s not the one to help. Raven is just being Raven.
Ask (his angel dog) Emmie to come help him, bring him comfort.
Approach this from a different perspective, acknowledge his difficulty in the transition to the new place. Think of it as PTSD and how you would approach someone from that space vs him cornering an innocent bystander.
Horrible Mom Syndrome
After hearing this, I immediately experienced horrible mom syndrome. I not only called in his angel dog Emmie to help, but his best friend ever and role model angel cat Scheisters. Both of them came willingly, showering Billy with much love, help and understanding. I asked Kris what Billy needed from me, and she replied:
Lots of compassion, snuggles (or being available for snuggles) and reassurance he is seen, loved, wanted and not forgotten. To acknowledge this was a traumatic move for him, and all involved, really, and that you acknowledge that it sucks for him. It doesn’t change things, but the acknowledgement will help him breathe.
He asks you understand we all deal with things differently and will move at his pace. He can move as slowly or as quickly as he needs. It doesn’t mean he can take it out on others, but that love and compassion is there for him.
Animal Communication Makes a Difference
I immediately did what Billy asked for. I let the other humans in the house know of Billy’s requests, and being animal lovers too, they immediately understood and were most willing in helping Billy with this transition and his specific needs.
Once I became aware of Billy’s specific requests and changed my way of being, the difference in Billy was magical. Within a couple of hours, Billy was acting more like his loving, adorable self than he had since we left Minnesota. Harmony was restored.
Have you experienced something like this? Something is going on with one of your animal pals and you are at your wits end on how to help. You’ve tried everything you know to do and nothing is working. As a matter of fact, the situation is at a stalemate or getting worse.
Obviously, I’ve been there, I know exactly how helpless it can feel.
It’s important to remember you don’t have to go through this by yourself. It’s OK to reach out for help and have that helpless feeling transformed into relief. If there’s any way I can help you and your animal pal regain peace and harmony in your relationship and in your household, just let me know.