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Do You Help Your CH Cat With Her Struggles? CH Cat Parents Respond

July 19, 2013

Imagine this scenario:

A CH cat wants to get onto a couch. He’s sitting on the floor and, after some thought, decides to go for it. He reaches up and begins to climb, when suddenly, something happens, and instead of climbing up, the cat is falling backward and hits his back on the floor.

Photo courtesy Moresheth.

OK, your move. Do you: 1) Go to your cat’s aid, and help him onto the couch? 2) Let him try again on his own?

It’s a big question, and it’s not an easy one. A few weeks back it was brought up on the Facebook CH Cats and Kittens group:

“When these guys are really struggling to get somewhere – say, food or potty – do you help them? Or let them go and let them learn? Is there a middle ground? I want [my cat] to learn to adapt as she grows, but at times she is clearly frustrated so I will help her. What’s the best for HER though?”

A while back, I tried to answer this question on my own. Right after I adopted CG, I received some advice that in order to build a CH cat’s confidence, it’s wise to let him work through his struggles on his own. But it’s not always that simple.

Some cats are more competent than others, and I think it’s important to take a cat’s personality into account, too. Here’s a look at some of the responses that were posted that day. Perhaps it’ll provide some food for thought, so you can determine how and when you may want to help your CHer:

Kate: My girl, Mim, does almost everything on her own. We put her in the potty because it’s too messy otherwise. She’s 11 months old and we’ve gotten her on a pretty good schedule and have minimized accidents this way. I just make sure that we play with her extra, because I don’t want the times we do help her to lessen her desire to be strong or self-sufficient!

Jennifer: If not severe CH, you have to let her do things on her own. The older she gets, the stronger she will get.

Lee: Schedule is very important. Sometimes their timing can be a bit questionable. One of our little guys needed a hand fairly often, the others just needed supervision. You’ll find out when they do. Gentle applause always seems appreciated, though.

Photo courtesy eaghra.

Emily: Depends on whether she is doing things safely. She has no awareness of danger.

Tina: Every once in a while I help my CH kitty, but don’t baby them too much. You’ll see over the years that they will improve.

Heather: I think there’s a middle ground. She does need to learn, but like you said, you don’t really want to watch her struggle. Maybe put her litter box/food/toys together in an area so she doesn’t have to go very far. As she gets stronger put more space between them?

Bonne: Help, but don’t hover. She will have plenty of practice over her lifetime to learn skills. My severe CH Fanny is 14 now and does everything she needs to do without help. Giving your baby a lift to the litter box will only help instill good potty habits. She’ll become more capable as she grows stronger.

Elizabeth: I always, always helped if I was around to see a struggle. My belief then, and still, is that it is reassuring, and reassurance brings comfort and confidence. It worked. My CH girls are happy, confident, and active. All these years later I still help if I’m around, just because I love them, and love to touch them, and they love me, and they love to be touched by me. Win/win. They can wrestle with tricky maneuvers on their own if they wish when I’m not home.

Selena: Tiffany, I also agree that you seem to be doing just fine by helping but not doing things for her. I think we just need to adjust how we care for them based on their individual needs and you know her the best. I was a total hovering mom with my first CH girl but has gotten better with the other two.

What do you think? Do you help your CHers, or do you encourage them to figure out things on their own? Please share in the comments!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Monika permalink
    July 19, 2013 4:15 pm

    Again, good info. :-}

  2. July 20, 2013 9:58 am

    Very different for each kitty. Shiloh was a deaf circler, but he could do anything.Tardy could do almost anything once he set his mind to it, surely not gracefully, but determination always won out with him. Ziggy gets around fine, but never even thought to climb anywhere, he’s strictly a floor kitty, unless I pick him up to the bed or couch for cuddles. Luna can get anywhere, although it’s always a sideways route. Spike can’t get around at all, I gave him plenty of time to learn, lots of physical therapy, but he cannot walk at all. I carry him to where he needs to go. Leaf can do anything, but her legs go out from under her, doesn’t slow her down a bit. Fern is the least affected, other than the blindness, her gait is almost normal, although she looks like a bunny sometimes when she gets going.

  3. natsera permalink
    July 20, 2013 9:36 pm

    When Dimity, who is only mildly affected, was younger and smaller, I would watch to see what was going on. Sometimes she would get herself into a pickle, and if she couldn’t figure out how to get out, she would meow in distress. I would let it go on for a few minutes to see if she had any bright ideas in the meantime, but if she kept up the meowing, I would rescue her. The interesting thing is that she kept trying, and as she grew and became stronger, she needed less and less rescuing, and now I’m no longer afraid to leave her out in the house when I’m gone. There are still some places the other cats go that she can’t, but she’s quite content with her own spots, and that’s good enough!

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