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Irrational Fears

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Meet Chai. She is 14 weeks in this photo, and her markings are just beautiful.

I thought I lost Chai, my new kitten. You know how fear sometimes grips you when things are wrong  This was different.  I thought she was in the house, and I searched everywhere.  It was the first sticky hot evening, and Chai didn’t come down for dinner. She and her sister, Karma, always know when I am serving food. Karma was playful and fine. She wasn’t at all upset.

Chai is the braver cat—at least that is what I thought. When we adopted them from the West Orange Animal Shelter, she came right up to us. Karma was skittish. They were living on the streets of West Orange, NJ, for the first 12 weeks of their lives. The next two they were at the shelter.

I don’t know what life was like for them, but I am pretty sure it was scary. So here at home I’ve made sure that they felt protected.  That is why something was off on Tuesday evening.  I just couldn’t find her, and when I walked through the house shaking her favorite bag of treats and cooing her name, she wouldn’t respond.

Still, I thought she was inside. We are all incredibly careful about not letting them go outside. There is a good deal of traffic on the street, and Chai and Karma are indoor cats. My husband and I searched our yard, porch, and surrounding neighborhood.  I contacted animal control, the local shelter, and animal activists in my area.

I still couldn’t find her.  Logically, I convinced myself that she got out. Intuitively, I thought she had to be home.

My Other Cat
Years ago, when I was living in NYC with two cats and a roommate, I remember one night jolting up from bed and shouting, “Gigs isn’t in the house.” My roommate came in late, and didn’t notice when Gigs, my first black cat, got out of the apartment. It was weird. I was fast asleep when my roommate came in. Just a few minutes later, I bolted up and knew that Gigs wasn’t home.

Something led me to look in the hall of the apartment building. Gigs was two floors down in the same line. Anyway, I scooped him up, and took him home. All was good.

Back to Chai
Several hours later, my husband, Steven, raced down the stairs to tell me that he found her hiding in the back of the closet on the third floor of our home. We got her to come out, and checked her for broken bones and any ill signs.  Other than being visibly shaken, she seemed fine.

I even brought her some food, which she gobbled down. She was hungry. I got her to go to the second floor, and she started playing. Finally, I tried to get her to go downstairs for food and water. She would not budge. When I carried her down to the living room she let out a distressed meow.

She looked up at the ceiling fan, jumped out of my arms, and raced back up the stairs. We have three ceiling fans on the first floor of our home. It was hot, and they were going full blast. Personally, I like ceiling fans.

When I turned them off and carried her back down, she nervously looked up at them. I stayed with her while she ate and sipped water. I promised I would not turn them back on. So we are in our hot house with the windows open, and I am thinking about getting air conditioners.

14 comments to Irrational Fears

  • Awwww. The things we will do for our dear pets. I’m glad you figured out what was bothering her. She is a beautiful kitty, her markings look just like my daughter’s tortie-tabby Cinnamon.

  • Great story! So glad she is safe!! Hpn

  • Carol

    Michele, I can totally relate to this! My cats have the same fears. My ceiling fan hums, and I don’t think they like the noise.

  • Linda

    Everyone in my house hates the sound of thunder, but we have the thundershirts for our dogs, and that helps a lot.

  • Roger

    I adopted two dogs from a rescue. The dogs were abused, and I work as a trainer. The dogs were afraid of me because a man of my build was abusing them. They feel safer around women. Over time, they have come to love me as much as I love them. I use gentle training, and never raise my voice.

  • When we first brought home Zora (our dog), she would become very distressed and bark whenever I left the house. Zelda (our cat) had never been around a dog and was so terrified that she hid under the cellar stairs. I was convinced she got out of the house because I looked everywhere for her. I finally found her after calling for her for hours. She was hiding behind boxes of Christmas ornaments and only came out because she finally got hungry.

  • Sally

    This may not be a fear, more of a behavior problem. My two cats hate it when I pull out my suitcase. I travel for work, and the last time I opened the case, one of my cats peed in it to tell me not to go.

  • Justin

    Those thundershirts really work because I know my two dogs get fearful when it thunders.

  • Laura

    She is such a pretty kitty, and I know it is hot outside. I don’t like the heat either, so you do need those ceiling fans. Let her get used to it.

  • William

    Who is to say what is rational or irrational? Some things can be scary. Glad she is doing well.

  • Samantha

    Glad Chai is okay!

  • Maude

    You should try turning on the fan at a very slow speed, and if she gets used to it then turn it up. Do this slowly.

  • Maryanne

    Isn’t it nice to laugh about it now, knowing that Chai is safe and sound?

  • Thanks to all of you who commented! Chai is doing well, and she is getting used to the ceiling fan. I went without it for several hot days (I know that is crazy). I brought her down with the fan turned off, and then I put it on the slowest speed. She doesn’t seem to mind when it is at low to medium speeds. I haven’t tried full blast yet, and will let her adjust at her own speed. Thanks!–Michele