Friday, April 08, 2005

Another great blogging tradition

Friday cat blogging, that is. Except that mine will be verbal rather than pictoral.

It's just that I really have almost nothing else on my mind since, even as I write, little Gabe is obsessively trying to pick a fight with poor Casey. (Although he just became distracted by the moving cursor on the computer screen. And now he's taking a rest on C's desk.)

No, it hasn't been an easy integration. We've always been worried about how the resident cats would accept a new cat. When Casey (about 5 years of age) came to live with us in January, Clyde (who is 18, something like being an 84-year-old human) was annoyed. He hissed at him and went out of his way to avoid him, despite the fact that Casey never showed any fear or aggression toward Clyde. Casey is one easy-going cat. Playful as can be, but very easy-going. Eventually, Clyde decided he wasn't scared of Casey, but they've never been good friends. (I mean, really, can an 18-year-old guy with arthritis be expected to suddently romp and play with a 5-year-old?)

So because Casey loved to play so much that he was beginning to annoy Clyde by hiding behind doors and jumping out at him, we decided getting another cat to join Casey's fun and games would be good. But we wanted an adult cat, in order to avoid the rambunctious, uncontainable energy of a kitten. So when the Humane Society told us Gabe was 3, we thought great, that's perfect.

It soon became apparent that Gabe was likely not 3. Once he recovered from his little operation, he was all over his "safe" room, never staying in one place more than a couple of minutes.

Our vet says he's more likely less than a year old.

Yes, friends. Despite our best intentions, we have a kitten.

So even though both Casey and Clyde welcomed Gabe without so much as a hiss, this runt of a cat wants, desperately, to be the alpha cat, despite his smallness, despite Casey's complete lack of desire to fight with him to establish dominance, despite our locking him away in his "safe" room when he jumps on Casey and bites him.

We're trying to let them sort things out. They've been working out various dance steps all night. Casey, who originally would run away from Gabe, has now taken to giving him a good bop on the head when he starts the tiny little deep growling and putting back of the ears. But mostly Casey just wants to be left alone and so will creep around very carefully when Gabe is around.

I should add, though, that Gabe is as sweet as can be with humans. He's all about love when it comes to humans. So we are, it's true, quite smitten with this little bully. We're just hoping, please, that he'll grow out of this phase, that he and Casey will work out their differences.

So, all you cat bloggers out there, any advice?


Becky Howard said...


Donna said...

I've heard of this--it really works? Helps calm the beast within the little kitten?

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Hi - found your blog via A Delicate Boy. We ended up adopting a kitten 3 years ago with 2 cats who were then 11 and 12. Ironically, the 12 year old (now 14 year old) and kitten got along great and chased each other around and played like mad almost from day 1. The middle cat, however, hates and despises the kitten with a passion (probably because the kitten likes to jump on her and biff her and generally demonstrate dominance). Unfortunately there hasn't really been much we can do about it - sometimes middle cat holds her ground and hisses and swipes at the kitten, often she runs away and he just chases her and makes her miserable. She's taken to entering and leaving rooms r e a l l y s l o w l y to try not to attract his attention. So it's not ideal. It's got a little better over time, but not too much (though they'll sit in the same room/sunshine space without freaking out these days). We have decided that we and they just have to live with it (that it's still better than the humane society, which is where all three of these would have ended up if they didn't go home with us).

I suppose this is not a very encouraging story, but I guess my main point is that things will get a little better as Gabe gets older, and that they will continue to work out an accomodation. You may be faced with the weird situation where Gabe actually does become the alpha cat (I think our kitten has managed to insert himself as alpha cat, even though that goes against what we humans think of the situation!).

But good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think he will grow out of it: it'll just take time. I've got two young cats of my own, sisters, who have occasionally decided that they completely hate one another for stretches of a week or so -- but they got over it. A friend of mine tried some of the pheromone products like Feliway for her two fighting cats, but saw no difference; they just had to get used to living together. And you can achieve the same thing Feliway aims to do by gently rubbing one cat's face around the whiskers with your fingers, and then gently rubbing the other cat's face the same way, back and forth: it transfers the pheromones, supposedly getting them used to one another. But, ultimately, I think it's just a matter of time and letting Gabe grow up.

It's interesting you've got three male cats: I chose to adopt females because of concerns about dominance issues (and about spraying, too), which, according to my local (no-kill) shelter, are less of a problem for female cats. Which isn't to say they're nonexistent: when they were very young, before I had them spayed, I took them on a road trip with me down to my dad's place in DC. My dad has a big 20-year-old grand dame named Gertie, and Gertie was very distressed to have two kittens just on the verge of going into heat for the first time invading her turf -- and she made her distress very, very evident.

Good luck.


Donna said...

Thanks, all, for sharing your experiences. Casey's adopted that really slow walking style that you've described, New Kid. And as for having three males, Mike, it's something of an accident, though an acquaintance with 5 (yes, 5) male cats assured me that I shouldn't introduce any female cats because they would want to be alpha cat. Neutered males are supposed to be less territorial: at least neither of my original pair of male cats did any sort of spraying or that sort of thing. But Kitty, who died in December, was definitely the alpha cat of the pair, so I guess he's left a hole to fill. And Gabe seems happy to fill it. Just a minute ago he came up to me, sweet as can be, with some of Casey's black fur (recently bitten off) hanging from his mouth. Nice.