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Behavioral Recovery




When Bad Things Happen to Good Cats


The Introduction to this course in Feline-Human Relations 101 speaks to the fact that cats throughout the ages have been alternately worshipped, vilified, tolerated, and loved.  How has this affected their relationship with us over the past 5,000 years of our time living together?  Everyone knows that all cats remember they once were worshipped.  But what about the bad times in our history, when cats were vilified, persecuted, and at best… merely tolerated?

Understandably, the bad times have taught cats to fear.

And that fear has been passed down through thousands of generations of "domestic cats", taught to each by their mother in earliest kitten-hood.  This learned behavior is best observed in cats living in feral colonies, or those now forced to live on the streets.

But what is the origin of this fear?  It stems from human misunderstanding of the feline psyche; which in turn, leads to abandonment and consequently their reversion to this primal teaching.

In rescue organization it seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, that cats come to us with varying degrees of human-induced damage.  Sometimes physical, but most often it is psychological.  Such damage results from abandonment (in a variety of forms), physical abuse, and behavioral abuse.

Psychological abuse induces behavior in these cats which is often unacceptable to humans.  Examples include biting and clawing of people and other pets in the home, inappropriate urination on beds, furniture, and more.  And, fear of being touched or held, which is what most people want in a companion animal.

In this session of Feline-Human Relations 101, we will explore the behavioral characteristics of psychologically "damaged" cats – from their perspective.  Repairing such damage is a challenge that requires months to years of one-on-one psychological rehabilitation.  This need constantly overwhelms the resources of rescue, and underscores the necessity of educating humans to prevent such damage from occurring.  Like Loren Eiseley’s story of the Star Thrower **, we cannot save them all.  But we can make a difference in this one life.

During the second hour in accordance with our meeting format, time will be available to address any questions or situations related to cats that individuals are experiencing and have brought to this group for advice and, where possible, resolution.

** Resource:  On making a difference – see:



PLEASE NOTE: Much of the information presented in Feline-Human Relations 101 is widely accepted and practiced throughout the feline rescue community. Other recommendations are derived from the experience and knowledge of the instructor. However, in neither case are guarantees stated or implied that these methods will work 100% of the time.


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  • Angela C.

    Many people adopt rescued cats and encounter behavioral issues. Understanding possible causes of problems and knowing how to help your cat recover from trauma not only helps keep a cat in a good home but really strengthens the bond between cat and human. This was a very valuable session. I wish this kind of knowledge could reach more potential adopters.

    May 14, 2012

  • Nadine

    Good information from what I could hear. I arrived late and the introduction was still going on. The cat information had not started so I didn't miss anything.

    May 7, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Roger let each person talk about a behavior problem we had with a cat and the positive outcome. I also learned to try to think of things from a cat's perspective - what does it want and need.

    May 7, 2012

  • Debra B.

    I'll be out of town. I'm hoping to attend the June meeting.

    April 30, 2012

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