Archive for September 2011
It’s important to stay sharp on one’s skills. Beso perfects his cuddling technique with Rattle Kitty.
One of the biggest concerns when bringing in a new pet is how the existing animals would react. You can’t say “these guys are in addition to you. We have plenty of love, food, and pettins for everyone.” Instead, you have to give the pet love and time to adapt. I have to say, Eddy made this very easy.
The first week, we kept the kittens isolated in a separate room, and took great pains to only have them out when Eddy was enclosed in a different room, or vice versa. After a couple of days, we would bring the kittens out in the carrier, and let Eddy check them out while we gave everyone bites of chicken (to promote positive associations all around). It was somewhat of a diving cage for the kittens, as well as Eddy. At first, it was hisses and howls; after about four days, he basically ignored them.
Formal introductions took place on a Saturday morning. We let the kittens run around while Eddy dozed in our bed. We wanted to make sure their supply of energy was at least not at the max. We assigned tasked to the family. My wife and I would break up any fights. My daughter was “kitten goalie”: if Eddy ran upstairs, she would prevent the kittens from following. Eddy was going to set the tone. If he got aggressive, we would separate everyone and give it a few more days. Once everyone understood how it was going to work, we brought everyone into the kitchen…
And, well, very little happened. Perfect!
There was some sniffing all around. Eddy hissed a bit. He bopped the kittens on the head a bit, to show them who is in charge. However, overall, everyone mostly ignored each other.
Notice “ignoring” was my goal. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to become one big family out of the box. On the other hand, outright aggression was going to be challenging. However, ignoring was simply another way of saying “peacefully coexisting.” And that was what I needed.
Over the next several days, we would only let the kittens have run of the house when we were around. Everyone was curious about each other. The first kitten Eddy really reached out to was Beso. Perhaps it was because they were both boys, or he submitted to the Law of the Paw more readily, or even because he reminded him of an old friend. He would give him a bath here and there. They would play chase around the house. When Eddy was being chased, he’d get a few steps ahead of Beso, let him start to catch up, then flop on to his back to let Beso have the advantage in the wrestling match that followed.
He and Luna have developed a pretty good relationship as well. Overnight, we still keep them in their own room. When I let the kittens out in the morning, Luna seeks out Eddy and says good morning to him, and they exchange licks. I haven’t seen them play as much as he and Beso, but they are definitely getting along.
So, I now have a coalition.* The cats get along well, aside from the odd bop from Eddy to keep them in line. It makes me happy that it worked out so well. I think Eddy’s mellow nature went a long way to helping ensure that happened. I appreciate that he was so flexible.
*Groups of two or three male cheetahs (typically brothers) form what’s called a coalition. They will hunt, find mates, and live their lives together as an efficient hunting unit. While female cheetahs are generally not part of this, I much prefer this term to “pride,” which is associated with lions.
Beso and Luna have discovered what a wonderful cat bed a retired boppy makes.