Alpha Cat Adapting to Newcomer Cat -Funny Adventures in Cat Adoption, Part Twelve
Hilarious account of what we did and didn’t do (but should have) when a five-pound bundle of fluff dropped into our lives.
If you have been following my cats-don’t-use-soap-opera, you know that our staid, settled, dull two-cat family was turned upside down by the addition of a male kitten abandoned outside in the cold by his former human family. Within two months after joining us, he caught up in health and growth. This hub describes the situation after six months of our new cat family configuration.
Always Ready to Agitate
O, ye of little faith
We are witnessing a sporadic rapprochement between the original cat, "The Goddess," and newcomer Skeeter. This is fantastic news! Some of us despaired of those two ever enjoying a peaceful coexistence, even intermittently. However, for the last few months, she has designed to be in the same room as he. This is a big improvement over her original strategy of growling and hissing if he appeared and then finally disgustedly racing out of the room in a big huff of protest.
In return, Skeeter has started to show the Goddess some deference and acknowledgement of her alpha status in our cat family. As a frisky youngster, he could (and still can) move faster than Sammy or the Goddess. Therefore, whenever I would open up the door to the back sunporch (which they all adore) he would zip through it first. It was just youthful excitement. This was very offensive, I presume, to Her Majesty because she is supposed to be the first cat going through. In an unexplained switch, Skeeter now waits for her to pass if she is in the vicinity. How did this happen?
Also, Skeeter has developed the ability to wait a few microseconds while I place the three cats’ bowls of food on the floor. Prior to this, he would nosedive into the first bowl down. If it wasn’t “his” bowl, tough luck to the rightful cat. To clarify: They all have a designated spot on the feeding rug and it took Skeets a while to learn his position. Now, he bats .500 at waiting until his bowl is placed on the floor, before eating.
Furthermore, Skeeter is taking turns with toys! We sound like preschool teachers, don’t we? When Skeeter first arrived he chased the toy which is a feather on the end of the wand with wanton energy. In the days B.S. (before Skeeter), this was the Goddess’s favorite play activity. Again, I think his speed and enthusiasm took over and he beat the alpha cat to the prize every time. Of course, she couldn’t live with that so she abandoned that pastime with haste. Lately, though, the Goddess has designed to return to this play and Skeeter does not interfere. He waits his turn. Incredible.
What’s more, the Goddess now seems to be actually imitating Skeeter in some instances. Our intrepid Skeeter doesn’t hesitate to investigate anything. He hops up on the kitchen countertops whenever an inspection is warranted. The other two cats are better behaved and wait until we are gone or asleep before pulling such a stunt. Skeeter is especially drawn to interesting food on the countertop. One recent afternoon I discovered a change in her conduct as both she and Skeeter crouched nose to nose on the counter sniffing a wrapped package of frozen hamburger meat sitting out to thaw. Together!
But the real miracle is that she is allowing me to pick her up and hold her for ten seconds. This was never tolerable to our dear little tough alley cat before. However, she sees us scooping up Skeeter and talking to him for a minute before he squirms to get down. Maybe she decided that if he can endure it, then it couldn’t hurt her? It is a nice change.
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Let’s not get crazy
Our Goddess hasn’t totally changed her tabby stripes, however. I recently witnessed the Goddess walk up to Skeeter and sniff his little wet nose in what appeared to be a peaceful or even slightly affectionate gesture. Then she took a step backwards and gave a perfunctory “Hisssssss” before continuing on her rounds. That’s our Goddess.
Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan
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