Below you will see my original blog post on how I learned to "treat the patient, not the disease." This is still a wise adage to follow, however Oatmeal had a breakthrough! I COMBINED the heating pad with her favorite blanket. By putting her favorite fabric on top of the heating pad, she was finally ready to give it a try. Now she loves it and her brother, Mr. Miyagi, sometimes takes a turn when it's unoccupied.
Many doctors adhere to the adage "treat the patient, not the disease." Loosely translated, this means to treat the entire person holistically, as the ideal treatment for the disease is not always the best fit. I'm no doctor, but I found this to be true for cat behavior as demonstrated by one of my own cats.
My senior cat, Oatmeal, has arthritis in her hind quarters. "I know what to do with this," I thought. Senior cats, especially those with mild to moderate pain, love heating pads. I've seen many seniors that only get off their beloved heating pads to eat and use the litter box. Of course this is what Oatmeal would want.
I set up our special cat heating pad that warms slightly in response to the light weight of a cat. I wrapped it in a towel and placed it on the master bed. Oatmeal's response was .... nothing. In fact she had a tendency to sleep next to the heating pad rather than on it.
Ever the cat behavior consultant, I tried changing different variables. I wrapped the heating pad in a t-shirt instead of a towel. I moved it to the couch instead of the bed. I put treats and catnip on it to ensure Oatmeal was experiencing the warmth. Oatmeal was not impressed. Reluctantly, I admitted defeat and put the heating pad away.
As the weather turned cold this year, I got out a microfiber blanket to keep on the couch for chilly evenings. I would chuckle as I draped the blanket over my legs, knowing that Oatmeal would inevitably sit on my lap. I thought how peculiar it was that she would only sit on my lap when I had a blanket (or first thing in the morning but that's a blog post for another day)! Again, only on the blankets, she would go into a trance of purring and kneading. Then it dawned on me: Oatmeal LOVES the super soft microfiber texture. THIS is what she wants more of.
Rather than treating her arthritis with a heating pad, I gave Oatmeal the microfiber blankets she wanted. I ran out to the store and bought several to place in all her favorite spots around the house. She gravitated to them immediately! Now whenever I see her sleeping she is curled up in absolute bliss on one of her blankets. I learned the important skill of treating the whole cat and not the disease, even when it hits close to home.