Cats are solitary animals. Our cat, who is named Bunny but we call him Kitty, is used to being the only cat in the house. He is almost 12 years old and has ruled our house most of his life, and he likes it that way.
Kitty received a bit of a shock a year or so when my daughter GG (she just turned 22) moved home.
GG had been attending college out of state, but she moved back home to go to school here in town, and brought her cat Goose with her.
This was a big shock for Kitty. He did not like having another cat in the house.
Goose, on the other hand, thought it would be great to have a friend to play with. Goose is a much younger cat, and of a more playful nature than Kitty.
Unfortunately, Goose’s attempts at friendship seemed quite hostile to Kitty, and he felt attacked. Kitty’s first strategy of defense was retreat. He spent about six months living in the kitchen cabinet.
Kitty gradually took over an entire section of the lower kitchen cabinets. First I moved things to make space for him in one cabinet. Then I discovered he was actually living in a total of THREE double lower cabinets.
When I tried to move a few things out to make room for him (in the space he had already claimed), Kitty protested. He enjoyed having all of the things in the cabinet. He could hide behind them and lie on top of them.
In the lower cabinets, I have always keep non-breakable things, such as plastic cups and dishes, paper products, or storage boxes. But now if I have an occasion to use any paper plates, plastic cups, or disposable silverware, I will need to buy new ones.
Kitty has laid his furry butt on everything we own in those lower cabinets, and it is all unusable now. (I did take out and wash all of the reusable plastic cups/dishes and move them to a higher cabinet.)
During this time, we began to refer to Kitty as the night cat, because he only came out the cabinet at night. Boo put a special pillow in the empty cabinet and set up his food and water in there for him. He seemed quite comfortable in there all day while Goose roamed the house.
Kitty would come out of the cabinet once Goose had been shut in GG’s room for the night. (Goose is that rare kind of cat who actually sleeps in a designated cat bed at night.)
Then Kitty would emerge from the cabinet, feeling safe to roam about and rule the house again. After many months, however, Kitty seemed to reassess the threat posed to him by Goose. He began to sometimes come out of his cabinet during the day.
Goose was overjoyed, and he took this as a sign that Kitty wanted to be friends.
Let’s be clear: Kitty did not want to be friends. All friendly overtures made by Goose were perceived as acts of aggression by Kitty. Therefore Kitty began to fight back.
At this point, Kitty seem to begin to realize that although Goose was younger, they were approximately matched in size and strength. Kitty began to try to become the dominant cat.
No longer did Kitty wait for Goose to finish a plate of wet cat food before creeping out of the cabinet and eating the leftovers.
Kitty boldly came forward to eat, and eventually I started making two plates. The cats ate side by side, but it seemed an uneasy truce.
Mostly now they coexist without too much trouble. Occasionally Goose will try to sidle up to kitty with a friendly meow, but Kitty will quickly shut him down with a swipe of the paw. Kitty seems to have tenuous hold on the position of Dominant Cat.
Today Kitty made a bold move in his personal crusade to cement his position as Top Cat. (This is a war that Goose does not know is being fought. Goose still thinks they are buddies who occasionally scratch each other, but it’s all in fun in his mind.)
As I said before, Goose is a more playful cat, and he has some cat toys. He has some of those feather thingies and balls with bells in them and strings and whatnot. Recently I corralled all of these toys into a corner of the living room in a cardboard box, because Goose also likes to play with cardboard boxes. Kitty does not deign to play with toys.
This morning I witnessed Kitty’s latest advance on the cat battleground. I walked into the living room and saw Kitty sitting on Goose’s toys inside the cardboard box.
I looked at him. He looked at me. I noticed he had his feet a little apart as he was sitting.
I thought to myself, It looks like he is sitting in that box the way that he sits in his litter box.
I narrowed my eyes at kitty. He held my gaze. Oh no, I thought, he wouldn’t, would he?
Kitty stared directly into my eyes challengingly and began to pee on all of Goose’s toys.
I screamed but it was too late. Kitty continued to look at me with unapologetic boldness. Then he got out of the box, and walked away.
I guess I’ll have to throw out that box.
And who knows what aggressive moves Kitty might make next? We will have to see. But Goose had better beware….