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Friday, June 24, 2022

Cat behaviour experts think that misunderstood Pickle needs a patient new owner and a quiet home

Pickle has been returned to our care twice after her owners saw isolated incidents of aggressive-type behaviours.

But since settling well with her Cats Protection carers, our behaviourists believe more manageable issues are in play with this adorable eight-year-old puss.

tabby-and-white cat

“Pickle has shown that she enjoys being around people and seeking out attention,” said Behaviour Officer Daniel Cummings, “but she has had some issues settling into new homes.

“She can have heightened reactions to new stimuli and get herself worked up, which is at contrast with the rest of the behaviour she is displaying, such as coming forward to seek out attention. In these instances, even though Pickle appears confident, it is still important to treat her as an anxious cat settling in to a new environment.”

It is understandable for behaviour such as that displayed by Pickle to be misinterpreted, Daniel explained: “It can be confusing for owners when a cat appears to be affectionate but then can show infrequent incidences of aggressive-type behaviours. But this is not uncommon.

“When a cat is scared by something they switch into ‘survival mode’, their flight or fight response kicks in and they will not respond to any stimulus as they normally would.

“So, when they encounter something stressful within a few days of being in a new environment, they will likely have a significantly heightened response compared to six months later when they have had time to bond with their owners.”

tabby-and-white cat lying down

In her most recent time in care at our Mitcham Homing Centre, Pickle has already charmed her fosterers.

“Pickle’s behaviour continues to be exemplary and early signs of a slight nervousness have passed,” said fosterer Linda Hamer. “Throughout the time she has been with us we haven’t seen anything of concern.

“She likes to escape from her room every time we go in, but then returns when called, trotting back in happy, it’s her little game. From what we’ve seen, so long as a calm home is found with confident owners, Pickle will not look back.”

To help smooth the adoption process, Daniel added that we will offer advice to Pickle’s prospective new owners: “Pickle has shown that she can settle into a home and does really like people so will make a wonderful addition to a household.

“Cats like Pickle who respond in a big way to scary stimuli tend to do better in homes where there are fewer potential triggers. Because of that, Pickle would likely be far more comfortable in a home without any other pets or children.

“The experienced team at our Mitcham Homing Centre will talk to potential adopters about what Pickle needs, including the importance of a good sanctuary room in her new home and time to settle in there for a good few days before gradually having access to the rest of the house. The owners will need to work with her but they will have support from our team.”

tabby-and-white cat lying down with paws in the air

Nikki Elliot, Rehoming & Welfare Assistant at Mitcham Adoption Centre, said: “Pickle is adorable. Her fosterer said she is one of the loveliest cats she has ever looked after.

“She looks a small cat but she has cute big ears – maybe that’s why she seems to have extremely good hearing. She can be nervous of sounds she is not familiar with though, so she is looking for a quiet home with an experienced cat owner who can support her in settling in. If she could find a home with a garden to explore, she’d be over the moon.”

If you can offer a Pickle the perfect new home, contact the Mitcham Adoption Centre at mitcham@cats.org.uk or 03000 120 285.

This year, the work of Cats Protection’s Behaviour team is kindly supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, helping us to help more cats like Pickle.

For advice on how to settle a new cat into your home and other behaviour matters take a look at our cat behaviour guides.

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