Not to brag, but I’m writing this post sprawled out of the sofa, with a nice coffee, some freshly baked pumpkin spice cookies, a cosy blanket and a purring kitten, with the tv on and the last of the day’s sun shining in the window. It feels all very domesticated and wonderful.
But you didn’t come here to hear about my amazing ability to take recipes from the internet and cook them, even with a kitten hanging onto my apron strings (literally). You come to hear about Athena’s development.
Well this week we had our second round of vaccinations and our microchipping, neither of which we were too pleased about, but both of which mean I can take her out with her harness like we’ve been practicing to do. I’m not sure what she’ll make of it. Most challenges in Athena’s life can be overcome with a cuddle and a game with Mr Ducky, which is how I’ve been conditioning her to tolerate the harness. But she’s also a stubborn lady and if she takes it in her head to freak out about the outside world, she won’t calm down until she’s been able to get a nice quiet cuddle somewhere safe. We shall see. I was thinking at one point that if she responds well to the harness training I might volunteer us for working in a Pets As Therapy capacity, but I’m not sure if she’d like it to be honest. She does find meeting new people to be intimidating, although she’ll happily cuddle them after getting to know them. Again, we shall see.
Athena is also, as Freud might say, orally fixated. She loves to chew, taste and just occasionally nibble bits and pieces here and there. I’ve heard professional trainers say you should never allow a young animal to use its teeth with humans at all, because they should never view it as acceptable. I personally believe that cats and dogs are clever enough to learn what gentle play is. Mouth-orientated play is an important behaviour for both species, and I’ve regularly been amazed at how great some animals are at regulating their play with different kinds of people. My childhood dog, for example, was nothing but gentle with me, but much more rough and tumble with my dad. As I got older, he changed his playstyle with me, while still remaining gentle with my younger sister. Our dogs and cats, I’m sure, know what ‘appropriate’ play is.
Athena is testing me though. She loves to bite things. Be it Mr Ducky, Mr Imp, Mr Cat or Ms Cow (Ms Cow is a particular favourite of hers as she can fasten her teeth around Ms Cow’s neck and gut the holstein with her back paws. It is truly disturbing and makes me think that in a few years time when we live somewhere she might be allowed to go outside she’ll be fitted with a truly massive bell). She likes to bite people too, and so I’ve become very strict with her lately and refused to engage whenever she uses her teeth on me.
Thankfully this is working. Much to my amusement, when Aunty Claire and Aunty Suzanne visited on Tuesday night for an impromptu gin session, Athena was quite cautious about how she played with their fingers, even sometimes checking with me in a way that looked like she was expecting a telling off for being too rough.
Asides from charming delivery men who come to the door, Athena has spent most of this week causing trouble and climbing onto things she shouldn’t. Essentially, all is as it should be.