Typical signs you’re brave at the Connecticut Humane Society:
–You take the 100+ pound jumpy dog on a walk.
–You’re first to clean a puppy room in the morning (you definitely want your mask for that one!).
–You volunteer on the disaster response team.
And this winter, there was a new one:
–You try to befriend Big Red the cat.
His first few notes at CHS included: “Big Red is very upset.” “I moved his food dish and he lunged forward, smacking it everywhere.” Before CHS, he made a husky hide behind a human’s legs.
Big Red was a boss in general. And a whole life transition that wasn’t up to him? Incredibly frustrating. So he made sure everyone knew his feelings.
CHS’ staff behavior team was on the case immediately. In 2021, the team had specialized behavior support plans for 364 different animals, including Big Red! Cats were the most common behavior clients, coming in at 210.
They have strategies for shy cats, and nervous cats, and mad cats like Big Red. First up for this ginger-colored 5-year-old was his own room and tossing treats to help him associate something he liked (food) with something he was currently angry at (people). Day after day. Patiently, quietly, getting closer with time.
More than a month in, he was described as “becoming a real cat!” He loved the laser pointer and wand toys, but still warned you against petting him. BR moved to an office to be a “helper” (ha!), and it changed everything for him. Soon, he let people pet him and scratch his neck and take pictures with him! He ran over meowing to anyone who brought him meals! It had taken five months, but Big Red finally realized he was safe and everyone was here to help him, and now he was ready to say thank you.
Despite his history of being a grump-a-saurus, he caught the eye of a past CHS adopter in just a couple of days of being available on the website! They hit it off, and headed home with a plan for adjusting and transitioning Big Red to his new life. And it’s working—he’s made every inch of his new home a nap spot!