MEET Chester, whom owner Claire Patel reckons was one of the country’s most stressed-out cats.
Three years ago, the waitress was run ragged by her grey Burmese cat, who would continuously spray in her house.
Claire turned to “Cat Whisperer” Anita Kelsey and, following a series of sessions, Chester is cured.
The puss was diagnosed with territorial marking, attention-seeking behaviour and over-attachment to Claire.
At the time, Claire, 41, had just given birth to son Savan.
Now Savan, three, and his eight-month-old brother Pasha get on great with Chester.
Anita said: “It was clear Chester was suffering from stress after I read Claire’s assessment.
“He was a chronic case, urinating everywhere.”
Claire and her husband Annand, 38, started including Chester in all their activities with Savan at their home in Islington, North London, so the cat would feel part of the family.
Claire had kept the door shut when seeing to Savan.
So by letting Chester in, he could feel part of the process.
They also placed a cat tree for him to sit on by the cot and soon he settled down, snuggling up to the baby under their watchful eye.
Claire said: “Chester wanted to be involved with everything to do with the baby.
“They have a beautiful relationship now.
“Chester greets Savan first when he comes into a room, he’ll join us for bedtime and Savan has learnt to be gentle and share treats with him.”
Chester’ felt intimidated by a neighbourhood cat so they blocked off certain areas where he would watch other mogs outside and left out litter trays and marking items where he could leave his scent to feel secure.
Anita also worked alongside a vet to make sure he was on the correct dosage of anti-anxiety medication.
Claire added: “We saw some change right away then, as we worked through Anita’s advice, we were able to cut Chester’s anxiety medication.
“The spraying has stopped.”
Anita, a feline behaviourist, said cats’ stress is normally down to how they feel in their home environment.
Any change to your cat’s normal behaviour — sleeping longer, hiding in unusual places, going off food — can tell you something is wrong.
Aggression is another thing to look out for, such as biting, scratching, flattened ears and headbutting.
Anita, 57, has also dealt with naughty clients for the other part of her business, cat grooming.
One mog — which she documents in her book Claws: Confessions Of A Professional Cat Groomer — left her with a nasty scar after trying to take a chunk out of her hand.
Anita was in hospital for a week and needed two operations, plus two months of physiotherapy.
She said: “It was a lesson. I obviously did something wrong. But I can now cure unhappy cats and that’s incredibly rewarding.”
Star of the week
NEW owners save rescue dogs but sometimes pets save their new owners too – and that is the case with Diesel the Akita.
Kassie Hopewell, 24, and Jamie Horewell, 25, from Manchester, fell in love with the huge pup’s chilled-out attitude at Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home two years ago.
As soon as they saw the “big softy”, they knew he was just the pup for them.
Diesel has even helped Kassie, who in the past suffered from agoraphobia.
She says: “He is really helpful for my mental health. Having Diesel means I cannot hide in the house because if he’s not had a walk, he will let you know!”
KAREN DUNSEETH, 34, from York, has a Yorkshire terrier called Luna and wants to know why Luna gets so excited when she talks to her.
Q) I love to talk to my little Luna every day. I speak to her like she’s a human because she’s my baby.
She gets really excited and I feel like she can definitely understand me. She tilts her head when I talk to her. Is her excitement OK? And does she understand what I’m saying?
A) She’s reading your mind and telepathically controlling your every move Karen. Just joking! It’s a funny, but very cute behaviour isn’t it?
We think it’s a dog’s way of assessing your face from multiple angles so they can read your expression better.
Dogs are quite unique in that they’re the only species shown to be able to read our emotions from our facial expressions, which is why you really can think they know exactly what you’re thinking or saying.
Perhaps ‘reading your mind’ isn’t such a joke after all.
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OLIVER HIGGINS, 29, of Jesmond, Newcastle, is worried about his dog Pippa, who he says whines, howls and scrabbles about while she is sleeping.
Q) Pippa twitches and whines and sometimes howls when she is sleeping, as if she is having a bad dream. Should I be concerned about this?
A) Dogs dream just like many other animals.
We are not so special, us humans, though we like to think we are different and of higher intelligence than all other species.
The honest truth is we just don’t know what they dream about or if it affects them long term, or even the next day.
If I were to hazard a guess, I bet Pippa’s chasing squirrels or a ball.
If she seems happy in her everyday life, I wouldn’t be too concerned.