Ask for professional help before rehoming your pet
We are mixing up our usual content so that I can share with you a truly heartwarming story of resilience, second chances, and the healing power of compassion.
This is Ermis, a 10 year old cat who had spent all his life in a loving home, but when the family brought a playful kitten in the house he struggled to adapt to the sudden change and he started pooping all over the house. Frustrated and unsure how to handle the situation, his family returned him to the breeder (who then found him a new home alongside one of his littermates, Paris. Of course, the added stress of changing multiple environments in a few days and being rehomed did not ease his stress, so the problem behaviour continued to the despair of his lovely new adopter.)
When I was approached by his new guardian I identified a couple of key factors contributing to his behavioural challenges.
We implemented some minor adjustments straight away, came up with a sustainable management plan that allowed him the time and space to settle into his new environment without pressure or stinky toilet accidents. We identified possible roots of stress and came up with ways to address them.
What truly surprised me in Ermis' case was that he was not displaying any of the usual stress symptoms you would expect from an animal and I truly believe this was a contributing factor in the frustration his guardians were feeling towards his pooping issues.
He seemed comfortable and calm in his new environment, he was social, he approached his new guardian for pets, he approached visitors, he chilled out next to me after just meeting me and he was calm passing by and being next to the other cat of his new home. Speaking with his breeder later I came to realise this is quite common for cats of his breed.
However, there were other subtle signs Ermis needed our help:
He was eating A LOT, perhaps 5 times more than Paris, even though they weight the same and are the exact same age, being litter mates.
He was eating FAST, gulping down the food as soon as he saw it.
He was yelping when pooping.
His poops were really big and mushy.
He seemed to be pooping mostly when his new guardian was not in the house, or during the night (Paris had always chosen to sleep with her in the bedroom, and Ermis had the free range of the quiet house at that time)
So, the adjustments we made were centered around his food and litter box setup:
His food bowl was placed right next to Paris’- we moved his eating area to a totally different room so that he could eat in peace and not be forced to come so close to a cat he was still getting to know.
He was eating kibble, and all this extra food intake could explain dehydration and pain when eliminating (hence the yelping). We came up with sustainable ideas to add some hydration in his diet in the form or fresh meat and fish, broth, or pumpin puree. I also suggested the help of probiotic, slippery elm or marshmallow root powder.
His litter box was placed in a dark nook, but it was right next to a high traffic passage and very close to the front door of the house. He chose to poop 1m away from the box, right in front of the door- we moved the litter box to the corner of the same room we placed his food bowls in so that he could be separated from Paris when they were left home alone, and he could also be there during the night. The guardian started paying more attention to the two cats’ interactions when she was in the house, and realised Paris was actually distracting Ermis when Ermis was trying to poop. The separation allowed Ermis to calm down more, to make a habit of using his litter box again. It also helped as a management so that he did not have access to the front of the door, where poop spreading was becoming a hygienic concern.
He started using his litter box again in just two days!
Ermis’ journey serves as a reminder of the importance of seeking professional behavioural support. Had his first family realised there is hope, recognised the need for intervention and reached out for guidance, Ermis might still be in the home he had known and loved for over 10 years. His story is a testament that with patience, understanding, and the right strategies in place, behavioural issues can be managed and, more often than not, resolved.
It warms my heart to see this beautiful cat getting a second chance at a happy and fulfilling life. It was both an honour and a privilege to be involved in making sure this cute cat gets some understanding and does not get rehomed another time!
Special thanks to Ermis' breeder, @perla_dolls, for the photos, and her obvious ethical breeding work, concern and support towards all her litters throughout their life.
If you find yourself facing behavioural challenges with your furry companion, remember that help is available.
Let's spread the word and inspire others with similar stories, making sure no animal is suffering of stress or is threatened by rehoming during or after major life altering changes.