Fievel and I met at the Aspca on 92nd street in June 2016. He was barely 2 month old and had tested positive for FIV (which eventually cleared) so he couldn’t share a space with other kittens. He was so playful and not shy at all. I’ve always had cats around me, but Fievel has been a different experience. He’s overly energetic and started to show signs of play aggression early on, and I had to find ways to temper down his outbursts. My vet was really helpful and supportive, and put me in touch with a behaviorist and a cat trainer. I started to implement shaping techniques to teach him tricks, I guess they use those more for dogs and dolphins. So now Fievel knows how to sit, stand, give the paw and high five.
Whenever he gets upset, I can make him sit and he then calms down. He usually huffs really loud to tell me he’s got a grip on it. Even at the vet, when he’s really upset and growls, they’re able to make him sit to relax. With the clicker and target stick training, I can show him to go places and reach things. Keeping his mind busy keeps the attacks away.
I feel lucky to be able to travel with him. As a kitten, he would launch from the furniture onto my shoulder. He still likes to sit up there when I do the dishes or if I’m about to cook. He has such a funny personality and is so overly social, he makes it worth all the effort. He reminds me to be patient and to make time everyday to relax. And now that he’s getting a bit older and likes to cuddle more, I couldn’t be happier.
Gabrielle Lamontagne is an Art director and illustrator based in New York by way of Montreal. She’s been in the city for over 5 years. She collects picture books and is trying to finish writing her own one : ) Living in New York has been the most difficult but amazing thing she’s done. Meeting people here has been so rewarding. And now with Fievel, she can really feel at home.