Black Cats and the Fear Gene
Our black cat, not at all like this one, was a stray who wandered into a church lunch one Sunday afternoon and has been at our house ever since. That must have been seven or eight years ago since the future Baron was the one who carried her in the car while I drove home.
Lulu has always been a scaredy cat. Company comes and she’s under the bed. To her way of thinking (and I use that word loosely), men are less trustworthy than women. She makes an exception for the fB, but then most cats do. They seem to be able to read the big sign he wears: PUSHOVER FOR CATS.
A few years ago, in an effort to calm her terror, I began experimenting with low doses of clonazepam. At first it was a half milligram a night. We could see a difference in her demeanor; definitely less jumpy but not exactly laid back. So I upped her dose to one mg. with her supper. That has made for quieter times at 3:00 a.m. when she’s decided I’ve abandoned her because she can’t find her way back to her cushion. Now just calling her permits her to aim in the direction of the sound and soon she’s settled down and snoring again. Yes, she does snore.
Of course those distress signals don’t resemble at all the guttural, half-purrs she makes when some mouse wanders across her path in, say, the closet. There is much scrabbling, strange squeaks and squeals. Then the lights go on, the Baron is forced to find the creature in whatever state of extremis he happens to be and heave him out the front door. Lulu doesn’t seem to mind the loss; she was only going to get up on the bed and present him as a gift anyway.
A few years ago I was talking to the substitute vet at our clinic about our scaredy cat. She explained to me that Lulu had inherited a fear gene on her Y chromosome. Only the daddies pass this trait along; it affects some more severely than others, depending on the level of genetic involvement.
This vet thought my clonazepam treatment plan was a great idea and even suggested raising the dosage. I wouldn’t mind doing that, but vet meds are too expensive.
When he heard about it, the main vet was skeptical of the whole thing. Or at least he was up until Lulu’s last office visit. I hadn’t dosed her beforehand (forgot to). When the fB brought her into the treatment room and opened the door of the carrier, the doc was treated to a vision of bare, naked Lulu. Evidently it wasn’t a pleasant encounter. On the directions sent home with her he’d written: “whatever it was you said you’d put her on, increase it. Please.”
Nothing like a fearful experience to make one a believer, hmm?