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  • FIRST POST
    • CarbonImage
    • By CarbonImage 10th Jul 18, 12:08 PM
    • 30Posts
    • 27Thanks
    CarbonImage
    Unhappy rescue cat? Advice
    • #1
    • 10th Jul 18, 12:08 PM
    Unhappy rescue cat? Advice 10th Jul 18 at 12:08 PM
    Hi Guys,

    Just posting here for a bit of discussion really, not sure if I'll be able to come to a conclusion based on your responses but I'd like some people to discuss this with as none of my friends have pets!

    To give some back story, my partner has always had cats. I was never allowed pets growing up as my dad was a grumpy sod who wouldn't allow it and my mum wasn't hugely bothered either way. I've lived with my partner for 4 years and we bought our first house a year ago. She's wanted a cat since we moved in together and I always said 'when we buy our own place', then when we moved in 'once we're settled'. A couple of months ago I finally had to bite the bullet, so we started looking around resuce centres as we agreed it was nice to give a cat a new lease of life rather than buy a kitten.

    Now I should probably say that I'm not against the idea of pets, I love animals and always wanted a pet, but was very wary of the impact it would have on our life. This meant I had quite clear guidelines: must be well trained, have no existing health problems, and be fine with staying indoors or being let out via back door, windows etc. (it would be really awkward to put in a cat flap at our place).

    About 6 weeks ago after a couple of months of looking, we saw an advert on one of the cat rescue centre websites for a cat that urgently needed to be rehomed as he didn't get on with the 4 other cats and 4 dogs(!) in the house he was in. He was indoor only (perfect for us, we thought), and only 2 years old so no health problems. However he had originally been rescued from Egypt where he was abused by his owners. We went and met him and the foster family seemed lovely. She cried at the thought of letting him go, but said she knew it was the right thing to do. They then asked if we could take him right then. We said we wanted to think about it, but they insisted that if we wanted him we had to take him that day. This is when alarm bells should have sounded!


    We got him back to our place and he seemed to settle in well, relaxing on the sofa with us etc. However he meowed constantly the first night outside our door. We thought letting him in would help as he might want company, however this only quieted him for a few hours before starting up again.

    Since that day, he has been developing more and more behaviour problems, namely:

    - Peeing everywhere but the litter tray (he used it perfectly for the first week so we know he knows how to)
    - Meowing constantly for attention. Particularly when it gets light in the morning as he knows it's breakfast time soon.
    - Waiting outside the bathroom and randomly attacking my partner's legs and ankles
    - Letting us stroke/scratch him and then suddenly biting us.

    He also won't come near us on the sofa anymore, and certainly has never sat on a lap!

    We have taken him to a vet who checked for UTIs and other common problems and has confirmed he is perfectly healthy.

    We have tried disciplining him with water spray, however he gets very aggressive and seems to hold a grudge, attacking us with claws and teeth for about 24 hours afterwards, so we have stopped doing this.

    I have bought feliways, toys, scratching posts, different foods, all sorts.

    He seemed to be sitting (and peeing) by the windowsill a lot, so we let him out into the garden which he seemed to enjoy. However he ended up chasing a neighbour's cat into their house and biting the neighbour who is now on antibiotics, so we can't let him out again on his own in good conscience. We have taken him out on a harness since and he seems to enjoy it but it's obviously not the same as being able to wander freely.

    The rescue centre have said they are willing to rehome him again and we have asked to be put on their waiting list as it is starting to ruin our relationship, which was not the desired effect!

    Has anyone ever had to deal with something like this before, and how did you cope? Do you think he can be 'saved' as it were? We are heartbroken as we wanted to give him a good home and it is just causing us so much stress, at the moment we are having to close all the doors in the house when we go out apart from the kitchen as it's got wipe clean surfaces!

    Thanks so much for reading!
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Page 2
    • borkid
    • By borkid 10th Jul 18, 7:25 PM
    • 1,856 Posts
    • 3,785 Thanks
    borkid
    As others have said I think he needs more food. However if he is constantly hungry consider if he's been wormed. It's easy enough to do. My cats need worming at least twice a year, we can usually sense when but they are all hunters.
    • Robin9
    • By Robin9 10th Jul 18, 7:37 PM
    • 3,065 Posts
    • 2,014 Thanks
    Robin9
    As regards toys - table tennis balls
    Never pay on an estimated bill
    • sheramber
    • By sheramber 10th Jul 18, 7:40 PM
    • 5,210 Posts
    • 3,890 Thanks
    sheramber
    Growing up with an animal on the family is not the same as being responsible for your own one and having to deal with problems yourself. Your partner probably has not experienced a cat with background you new arrival has.

    You both need to work together to help him- either by working through his problems or finding him a suitable new home.

    But I do not think the rescue he came from is the best place for him if he is just going to be passed on to any body who applies without being assessed and the right home found for him so he doesnlt keep getting passed on.

    I hope you can keep him as you do sound as if you are prepared to help him but it has to be a joint decision.
    • KxMx
    • By KxMx 10th Jul 18, 8:48 PM
    • 7,446 Posts
    • 10,784 Thanks
    KxMx
    My cat has a pouch of wet food in the morning and a small bowl of biscuits in the evening. Sometimes those are gone in the morning, sometimes not.

    For her that is plenty and if yours is starting to leave food then maybe you have that about right.
    Last edited by KxMx; 10-07-2018 at 9:02 PM.
    • Kdf
    • By Kdf 11th Jul 18, 10:00 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Kdf
    It will get better. Try the online advice at Cats Protection and maybe Google Jackson Galaxy, who is great with all things cat. Once your cat has settled and trusts his new parents, you will wonder why you left it so long to get one. Cats are incredibly intelligent and can be trained. But this wee rescue cat has been stressed by his previous experiences and needs love and patience - which it seems to me you want to give. Observation and supervision was what helped me at the beginning of my cat journey. Thank you for saving him.
    • NeilCr
    • By NeilCr 11th Jul 18, 10:19 AM
    • 2,250 Posts
    • 3,001 Thanks
    NeilCr
    My cat is a rescue. He'd been a stray for some time (maybe since he was born) and is/was inexperienced in socialising with humans.

    When I first got him he would race across the room and attack my hand if I moved it. That led to blood but he slowly learnt that this was unacceptable. He will still grab my feet and does bite if he gets fed up with being stroked or wants to play. As others have said most of this is him wanting to play with you and not realising that it's all a bit OTT.

    I can tell now when I think he is going to bite - his eyes narrow - so I am ready for it. And he doesn't bite hard - as has been said it's mostly play bites. He howls at 4.30 in the morning - that's a cat thing - not down to the particular moggie involved.

    I'd agree with the two tray suggestion as well. My guy goes in one and then nips upstairs and finishes in the other. I do understand that it is an annoying habit - I had one cat who would use the tray but always with his bottom hanging over the edge.

    I'm with the others in that it should improve with time and patience. For all his rough edges my cat is a real character and very affectionate - on his own terms! He's great.

    It does sound as your g/f wanted a straight from the box fluffy cat who would sit quietly and cutely on her lap purring happily. Unfortunately, often due to their bad experiences, rescues are't always like that. I hope you persevere and good on both of you for taking on a rescue cat
    • pearl123
    • By pearl123 11th Jul 18, 10:45 AM
    • 1,435 Posts
    • 2,113 Thanks
    pearl123
    Rescue animals have often been through an ordeal. They can be sensitive souls. Spraying with water was absolutely the worse thing to do.
    I suggest you try a lot of patience if you wan to keep this cat. It might take a good while for it to settle down.
    I've had two rescue dogs and the first one had behavioral problems for years.
    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 11th Jul 18, 10:56 AM
    • 20,657 Posts
    • 55,515 Thanks
    Pollycat
    Hi Guys,

    Just posting here for a bit of discussion really, not sure if I'll be able to come to a conclusion based on your responses but I'd like some people to discuss this with as none of my friends have pets!

    To give some back story, my partner has always had cats. I was never allowed pets growing up as my dad was a grumpy sod who wouldn't allow it and my mum wasn't hugely bothered either way. I've lived with my partner for 4 years and we bought our first house a year ago. She's wanted a cat since we moved in together and I always said 'when we buy our own place', then when we moved in 'once we're settled'. A couple of months ago I finally had to bite the bullet, so we started looking around resuce centres as we agreed it was nice to give a cat a new lease of life rather than buy a kitten.

    Now I should probably say that I'm not against the idea of pets, I love animals and always wanted a pet, but was very wary of the impact it would have on our life. This meant I had quite clear guidelines: must be well trained, have no existing health problems, and be fine with staying indoors or being let out via back door, windows etc. (it would be really awkward to put in a cat flap at our place).

    About 6 weeks ago after a couple of months of looking, we saw an advert on one of the cat rescue centre websites for a cat that urgently needed to be rehomed as he didn't get on with the 4 other cats and 4 dogs(!) in the house he was in. He was indoor only (perfect for us, we thought), and only 2 years old so no health problems. However he had originally been rescued from Egypt where he was abused by his owners. We went and met him and the foster family seemed lovely. She cried at the thought of letting him go, but said she knew it was the right thing to do. They then asked if we could take him right then. We said we wanted to think about it, but they insisted that if we wanted him we had to take him that day. This is when alarm bells should have sounded!


    We got him back to our place and he seemed to settle in well, relaxing on the sofa with us etc. However he meowed constantly the first night outside our door. We thought letting him in would help as he might want company, however this only quieted him for a few hours before starting up again.

    Since that day, he has been developing more and more behaviour problems, namely:

    - Peeing everywhere but the litter tray (he used it perfectly for the first week so we know he knows how to)
    - Meowing constantly for attention. Particularly when it gets light in the morning as he knows it's breakfast time soon.
    - Waiting outside the bathroom and randomly attacking my partner's legs and ankles
    - Letting us stroke/scratch him and then suddenly biting us.


    He also won't come near us on the sofa anymore, and certainly has never sat on a lap!

    We have taken him to a vet who checked for UTIs and other common problems and has confirmed he is perfectly healthy.

    We have tried disciplining him with water spray, however he gets very aggressive and seems to hold a grudge, attacking us with claws and teeth for about 24 hours afterwards, so we have stopped doing this.

    I have bought feliways, toys, scratching posts, different foods, all sorts.

    He seemed to be sitting (and peeing) by the windowsill a lot, so we let him out into the garden which he seemed to enjoy. However he ended up chasing a neighbour's cat into their house and biting the neighbour who is now on antibiotics, so we can't let him out again on his own in good conscience. We have taken him out on a harness since and he seems to enjoy it but it's obviously not the same as being able to wander freely.

    The rescue centre have said they are willing to rehome him again and we have asked to be put on their waiting list as it is starting to ruin our relationship, which was not the desired effect!

    Has anyone ever had to deal with something like this before, and how did you cope? Do you think he can be 'saved' as it were? We are heartbroken as we wanted to give him a good home and it is just causing us so much stress, at the moment we are having to close all the doors in the house when we go out apart from the kitchen as it's got wipe clean surfaces!

    Thanks so much for reading!
    Originally posted by CarbonImage
    My last, sadly departed, much missed cat was a farm kitten.
    I chose him because he was very clearly the alpha male in the litter.
    He was supposed to be 6 weeks old but when we took him to the vets - we'd had him less than 2 full days and he was clearly dying - they said he was only 5 weeks old, if that.
    He had cat flu and pneumonia and the vet wouldn't/couldn't say if he would survive or not.
    After 2 fraught weeks, with wet tea towels sprinkled with Olbas Oil on the radiators, he did live. But we think it fritzed his brain a little.

    He loved me, tolerated my OH and refused to acknowledge the existence of anyone else.

    Re the bit in bold:
    he did all the last 3.
    Not the first only because he refused to use a litter tray at all.
    When he wanted to go to the loo, he'd let us know.
    When he was hit by a car and we had to keep him in, he still refused to use a litter tray.
    I caught him, leg bandaged for the full length trying to climb into a very large planter to 'do his business'.

    He was a real challenge.
    He thought he was still alpha male and we really had to boss him when he decided to challenge the house hierarchy.

    He was a monster.
    But he was my monster and I loved him, possibly the most of all the cats I've had over the last 40 years.
    I called it 'character'.
    My neighbour referred to him as 'The Boss'.

    It would be great if you could persevere with him.
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 11th Jul 18, 11:46 AM
    • 205 Posts
    • 1,779 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    Use an enzyme cleaner to be really sure you're getting everything up. Never use anything with ammonia as a component - ammonia is also a component of wee!

    Check where your litter trays are. You want them in a quiet place, not a through route, especially if the cat is reluctant to use them. Definitely nowhere with a window overlooking - if neighbour cat comes and stares at him on the litter tray, you'll never get him to use them, because that's as creepy for them as it would be for us.

    Quite often cats pick specific places to wee when stressed. These might be access points - windowsills, doorways, etc. This could be because neighbourhood cats are on the other side stressing them out. Other places they sometimes pick are electricals - as appliances/sockets are turned on, they heat up and change smell, which can be stressful and threatening to them.

    You also want three separate areas for food, water, and litter tray. Cats don't like to drink near their toilet or their food, because contamination. (Many cats will tolerate two or even all three together, but these are cats that are not otherwise stressed and can deal with the fact that life isn't perfect). Two litter trays in separate quiet places would be even better.

    Make sure you're not misinterpreting signals - e.g. tickling his tummy after he rolls over.

    Plenty of mental stimulation - being an inside cat can be boring! Toys, games, etc. The more you engage him appropriately, the less energy he's got spare to engage you inappropriately with biting etc. But equally, don't force interaction with him. Cats need a different level of social interaction to people. Always make sure there's somewhere he can run off too if he wants to.

    Puzzle feeders can help as well if he wolfs his food.

    I wouldn't always interpret a begging cat as a hungry cat - if he's come from a situation where food hasn't been regular, then he's going to take every opportunity he can get, because he's not certain when the next meal will be. Equally, with your guy - he's come from a place with eight other animals. I imagine that if he left any food, it would have been snaffled by someone else. It takes a long time to break the "eat now or don't eat at all" mentality. Strict mealtimes can help to reduce the begging down to appropriate mealtimes only, and treats as rewards for good behaviour, not begging behaviour.

    Lastly, keep up with the feliway - if you got one 6 weeks ago when he moved in, it will need replacing by now (normally every four weeks). If you've only started it recently, it can take 1-2 months to really kick in. Herbal/supplemental calmers could be something you could look into as well to take the edge off everything for a bit.
    Last edited by Merlin's Beard; 11-07-2018 at 11:49 AM.
    • Fen1
    • By Fen1 11th Jul 18, 1:16 PM
    • 1,433 Posts
    • 5,559 Thanks
    Fen1
    I volunteer for a cat rescue charity and really rate Jackson Galaxy.

    Please watch Jackson Galaxy and his programme "My Cat from Hell." ( Ruddy awful title!)
    As others have said, Jackson is very good with problem cats, especially indoor cats. All the problems you have - peeing, "attacking", begging - he deals with a lot.

    Playing with your cat with appropriate toys is critical. Not hands and feet. And you need to play a LOT. Jackson advocates the " play, exhaust, feed " method which mimics what the cat would naturally do in the wild.

    His key word is Catification. Make your home the cat's territory: lots of vertical spaces ( such as a series of shelves up and along the wall ) so that the cat can own the room. Cat trees in various places so that, again, the cat can own the room. Several litter boxes with different types of litter so that cat can choose what he likes. ( My cats really like World's Best Cat Litter.)

    Most importantly, you must learn the cat's language. Understand what he needs and the world will be a much happier place!


    Please have patience. You wouldn't expect a human to be "normal " after a lifetime of trauma, so please don't expect it of a vulnerable animal. Your cat will learn to trust and love you if you can give him the opportunity to trust and love.
    • motorguy
    • By motorguy 11th Jul 18, 1:50 PM
    • 17,290 Posts
    • 10,434 Thanks
    motorguy
    Thanks to you all for your excellent and non-judgemental advice. I'd like to respond to a few points directly but will definitely be taking it all on board!

    RE pressure from the rehoming centre - this was a 'home-from-home' adoption, meaning the centre merely put us in contact with his existing owners. They never took him in themselves and all the pressure came from the owners directly, who I suspect were desperate to get rid of him because of how he was being around their existing 'babies'. I don't blame the centre in the slightest and they have been trying to offer advice, although none as good as has been offered here.

    I agree most of the attacking sounds like it is probably misplaced playing. I have had some good results with the 'fist' and he has started purring occasionally when I stroke him. I think we felt that attacking the neighbour was a major setback and were worried that keeping him in was not a healthy option but maybe if we can stimulate him some more he will be happier. We also had a visit from the neighbour saying that if they see him in their garden again they would protect themselves with the hose if necessary which I didn't like the sound of but can totally understand.

    He does only have one litter tray currently but it is in a secluded spot and he doesn't seem to have any trouble with number two's.

    I think I would be able to cope if we could control the peeing. My other half has borne a lot more of the brunt of the aggression/playing so she is currently terrified of him which I think is influencing her to want to rehome him more.

    I will get him some more toys and see if he begins to improve at all.
    Originally posted by CarbonImage
    It can take a cat quite a while to get used to new surroundings. I'd a friend took on one and it was a full two weeks before the cat would even let them touch it. It spend the time hissing at them when they looked at it. After two weeks, she settled in completely and became a loving friendly cat again.

    With regards to the wanting stroked then suddenly being aggressive, our tom cat used to be like that. When he decided he had had enough of being stroked or you were doing it "wrong" you had about 0.1s second to detect this or he would whack you with his paw and storm off. We learned to look for the signs very quickly!

    I'd agree with all the other advice - he needs time, training, understanding and someone to understand his needs even when he maybe doesnt know them himself. Type of food, quantity of food and type of cat litter being used will also impact his behaviours.
    "We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem."
    • Fen1
    • By Fen1 11th Jul 18, 5:03 PM
    • 1,433 Posts
    • 5,559 Thanks
    Fen1
    Just a quick note about where and how to stroke a cat, especially one that turns on you.

    Stick to stroking around the face and ears. Importantly, let him take the lead in this: he will rub your hand with his jaw and the top of his head when he is relaxed and likes you. He is in control. Stick with the head rubs for a few months until he is completely settled and he invites you to rub him elsewhere.

    When you do want to go and pet him, very gently offer your hand when you are in front of him
    Never start petting him from behind where he can't see you: he must see you, and he must make the choice of coming to you.


    Avoid stroking anywhere else for now. If he has ever been kicked it will probably have been on the body. The psychological and muscle memory of this will be playing a part in his behaviour. He might be fine for a minute about being stroked on his flank, then bang, something subconscious will kick in. If he has been kicked, there may also be residual physical damage such as arthritis, so he won't want to be touched there simply because it hurts.
    • CarbonImage
    • By CarbonImage 11th Jul 18, 8:35 PM
    • 30 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    CarbonImage
    Again, so grateful for all your replies. The support on this forum is amazing!

    Just a quick update, we have changed his litter to wood pellets as suggested above, and started closing doors when we are not in so he is reatricted to areas closer to the Feliway.

    The peeing has already seemed to have stopped which is promising, although its only been just over 24 hours. He also hasn’t been aggressive today at all.

    I bought him a new catnip infused wand toy yesterday as well. He played with it for about 10 minutes this morning but wasnt interested when i tried again tonight. Getting him to engage in play is quite difficult so its hard to tire him out but i am trying.

    His favourite thing to do is still to run from the kitchen to the corner of the living room and back again. I guess this is fine but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘healthy’ to me! He does already have a ping pong ball too which he likes but keeps losing under the furniture so doesnt’t keep him enteratined long before needing assistance!

    I will try and watch those videos on youtube when I get time, thanks for the suggestion.
    Mortgage
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    • KxMx
    • By KxMx 11th Jul 18, 9:54 PM
    • 7,446 Posts
    • 10,784 Thanks
    KxMx
    Cats have crazy moments where they run around like loonies for no apparent reason, him running from kitchen to living room sounds totally normal

    My 13yo does it quite often, sometimes at 2am
    • NeilCr
    • By NeilCr 11th Jul 18, 10:02 PM
    • 2,250 Posts
    • 3,001 Thanks
    NeilCr
    Cats have crazy moments where they run around like loonies for no apparent reason, him running from kitchen to living room sounds totally normal

    My 13yo does it quite often, sometimes at 2am
    Originally posted by KxMx
    Absolutely.

    My cat thunders round the house after he has had a poo - and for other, unexplained, reasons.

    He, also, doesn't do toys - dangly ones, Bally ones, electric mouse ones. He will play with a piece of grit from the dirt tray though!

    They are all individuals. Why I like them so much.
    • tealady
    • By tealady 12th Jul 18, 5:33 AM
    • 2,844 Posts
    • 3,481 Thanks
    tealady
    One of mine used to love practice golf balls. They could stick their claws in the holes and throw them. Great fun for the cat.Also another vote for Jackson Galaxy, I would recommend watching a few of his programmes. That guy rocks!
    Proud to be an MSE nerd
    Judge people by their achievements, not by their mistakes
    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 12th Jul 18, 8:18 AM
    • 20,657 Posts
    • 55,515 Thanks
    Pollycat
    Absolutely.

    My cat thunders round the house after he has had a poo - and for other, unexplained, reasons.

    He, also, doesn't do toys - dangly ones, Bally ones, electric mouse ones. He will play with a piece of grit from the dirt tray though!

    They are all individuals. Why I like them so much.
    Originally posted by NeilCr
    My old cat loved dried pasta, especially twists.
    He'd career round the kitchen (he was totally without grace) until he lost it under the fridge or washing machine.
    • pinkteapot
    • By pinkteapot 12th Jul 18, 9:25 AM
    • 6,212 Posts
    • 8,014 Thanks
    pinkteapot
    My cat thunders round the house after he has had a poo
    Originally posted by NeilCr
    I thought it was just ours!!

    OP - does he like Dreamies (or similar)? If so, these keep our kitty entertained:
    http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/cat_toys/miscellaneous/treat_toys/315711

    Few Dreamies inside. Took him a while to get the hang of it but now he runs with it like a Croatian forward. (Too soon?)

    Ours is bored by wand toys but the feather-on-string ones have been a hit for four years now. We have one of these:
    https://www.purrsinourhearts.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=423
    (they do one with a shorter wand if you have a smaller space)
    And mix up the type of refill we get - he likes the bird ones like this:
    https://www.purrsinourhearts.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&path=23&product_id=643
    • Fen1
    • By Fen1 12th Jul 18, 5:32 PM
    • 1,433 Posts
    • 5,559 Thanks
    Fen1
    Ok, a really personal question!!!!! For the cat owners whose cats thunder about the house after they poo: have you checked their poo? Is it soft, firm or hard? Is it sausage shaped or hard balls?
    I ask because if they are in any kind of pain when defecating, cats bolt from their poo. The painful poo goes one way - they go the other! Sometimes the poo itself is fine, but they may have internal problems with defecating that causes the discomfort; anything from irritation of the gut caused by a food intolerance to a blockage.

    There are websites ( oh, yes!) on what a healthy cat's litter tray should look like.
    • NeilCr
    • By NeilCr 12th Jul 18, 6:41 PM
    • 2,250 Posts
    • 3,001 Thanks
    NeilCr
    Ok, a really personal question!!!!! For the cat owners whose cats thunder about the house after they poo: have you checked their poo? Is it soft, firm or hard? Is it sausage shaped or hard balls?
    I ask because if they are in any kind of pain when defecating, cats bolt from their poo. The painful poo goes one way - they go the other! Sometimes the poo itself is fine, but they may have internal problems with defecating that causes the discomfort; anything from irritation of the gut caused by a food intolerance to a blockage.

    There are websites ( oh, yes!) on what a healthy cat's litter tray should look like.
    Originally posted by Fen1
    Nice subject!

    I've heard this before but, the stuff I have read on it (mostly American so iffy!), says it's quite unusual.

    My guy doesn't run straight away. He spends quite a lot of time attempting (!) to cover the poo up. He's been known to get most of the grit out of the tray - which can involve hooking a bit of poo out too - which means more frantic covering up.

    It almost seems triumphant to me. I've done a poo...

    He does mostly soft but not runny. Too much information, possibly.
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