This morning, entering the back room I find Isis where I left her. Under my desk.
I stroke her awake. She seems pleased to greet me.
I try to encourage her out of her lair. She makes very small forays, a few steps forward then back under the desk. This goes on for at least thirty minutes. When she skitters half-way into the room I stick her breakfast under her nose and slowly, with many returns to base, she follows her breakfast to the door but won’t enter the kitchen to eat it.
After a further pause she shoots in, grabs a mouthful and retreats into the back room to eat it. In this way, she gets through the meal.
At half past two she still has not asked to go out for a pee nor has she peed in the house. I pick her up and take her into the back garden. She is petrified. After about ten minutes, she pees.
But then she behaves very strangely. She cowers against the wall of the house and tries to make her way back inside without leaving the wall. This is impossible as there are items against the wall. Eventually she finds her way in.
I feel very anxious about her. She is behaving as though the garden is a strange and threatening place. Her body language – crouching, creeping, staring up in alarm are reminiscent of how she behaved when she was brought into the house the first week she was here.
She even whimpers a little. This is heart-breaking. She never whimpers. She seems to be disorientated, hugely uneasy. I feel helpless.
During the afternoon, as I sit next to the desk she emerges from beneath it and puts her front paws on the edge of my chair. I pick her up and give her a cuddle. She nibbles my ear and pulls my hair. This is the most relaxed she’s been for two days. After another brief spell under the desk, she ventures into the room. I give her a gentle groom which she seems to enjoy. But afterwards, it’s back under the desk.
In the evening I put her on her lead and carry her into the front garden. She refuses to oblige. I carry her into the back garden. She doesn’t want to be there but within about six minutes she does the necessary.
This time, although she is nervous, when I feed her she remains in the kitchen and eats her meal normally.
I talk to the Polymath and to A. We have several theories.
Something has changed. It could be the light and the position of the sun. It might be a tiny physical or perceptual change in Isis. Perhaps it is simply that my mishandling of her last park visit traumatised her. Perhaps she is suffering from post-traumatic stress because something current has triggered fears from her past. Who knows what unbearable things may have happened to her?
Discussing the problem and possible ways of tackling it is helpful. I determine to:
- keep her on the lead so that she feels more secure when I take her into the garden
- return to rewarding her with a treat as soon as she pees
- encourage her to come out from under the desk before I make a fuss of her
- only give her treats when she is away from the desk
- try to engage her in a grooming/play activity when she leaves the desk
- continue to feed her in the kitchen but leave a bowl of water for her near the desk
- abandon any attempts to take her for a walk until her fears die down.
This sounds very clear-headed and efficient. I do feel calmer now but the last seventy-two hours have been very worrying.
Poor little Isis!