DEAR JOAN: I have a new cat. She was found in a feral group, but she came from someone’s home, as she is very tame and loves to be petted. I took her in and she is a sweet lovely cat.
My problem is that she hides when our air conditioner comes on, hence her name, Heidi. With this very hot weather and now the awful smoky air, the air conditioner runs most of the time. We hardly ever see her.
The air conditioner goes off at 8 p.m. and then she might come out to eat and go potty. I worry for her health. It can’t be good for her to stay under the bed all day and not go potty or eat and drink.
Yesterday, the house was rather cool and the air didn’t run from about 5 p.m. on, and she was out with us watching TV and playing with toys, even sitting on my lap for a while.
She is also afraid of the garbage trucks as they go by, with all the banging and noise they make. Do you have any ideas about making her feel comfortable or do you think with time she will adjust? I think of winter and my heater will be running then, too. I just don’t know what to do for her.
Joyce, Pleasant Hill
DEAR JOYCE: I feel certain that once Heidi becomes more comfortable, she’ll settle down and overcome her fears, although she might remain skittish her entire life.
Try not to worry too much. Cats spend 20 of every 24 hours sleeping. She’s just doing it under the bed, which she finds a safe and comfortable spot.
Heidi was living in a stressful situation where she likely had to be on her guard all the time. It will take a while for her to learn to relax and feel completely safe. You might want to create a special room just her — one that is as far from the noisy air conditioner as possible. Outfit it with a comfortable bed and put her food, some toys and her litter box there.
A cat condo that has both an enclosure and a high perch might encourage her to go there instead of under the bed. Cats are territorial, and having an entire house to oversee might be overwhelming for her, so you could consider keeping her in her room for a few days before giving her the run of the house.
Don’t force her to come out and socialize. She will do that on her own when she’s feeling safe. Greet her warmly and give her attention by playing with her and giving her treats, and just show her how much you already love her.
DEAR JOAN: I feed birds year round, which is very enjoyable. However in the fall, winter and early spring, the white-crowned sparrows cause major destruction to the vegetable garden.
Is there a seed mix that is less inviting to the sparrows, but won’t chase off other birds, such as goldfinches?
DEAR DAVE: Before you put the white-crowned sparrows on your “do not serve” list, consider what contribution they’re making to your garden and yard.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com