Thursday, July 26, 2012

Side Effects of Life With Cats

I wouldn't say there's much of a down side to being owned by pets and cats in particular. I think back to people I've known who don't have pets and I often wish they could have experienced the unconditional love that comes from an animal. We often say that pets don't have feelings but I know that statement is completely wrong.

Right now I'm having a bit of a conundrum with the girls. There have been times of outright hostility, with ears back, growling, and hissing. This has happened before but the growling is deep and guttural, the kind that say, "Back off or I will attack." It's been very upsetting to me to have them face off in the living room, both growling and hissing. Come on. They have lived with each other all their lives. Why now?

On July 19th, Layla of Cat Wisdom 101, had her usual vet column. A couple of the items have come at just the right time. These two struck me as appropriate to my situation.
1. Cats are social and left on their own will form matriarchal groups. However, they do not need feline or human companionship in most cases. Much research has been conducted in this area, thanks in part to the many feral colonies that in recent years have been developed with consistent care. Observing these colonies, researchers have found that mothers and their daughters tend to form groups, often sharing in kitten-rearing duties. Related males may also stay in the group, and unrelated males may join it, but unrelated females typically are not allowed in. This is one reason why housing two unrelated adult female cats in the same household can be difficult. (Emphasis mine.)
2. Cats form social groups with as few as one member in multicat households. An example: A household with three cats could have three groups (each comprising one cat), two groups (one with one member, the other with two), or a single group of three. Cats in the same group will groom one another, play together, and sleep together. Figuring out which cat is in which group can be difficult without a lot of observation over a fairly long time period, but mutual grooming (the technical term is allogrooming) is an important clue. In general, only cats that are in the same social group groom each other.
I had another incident today where Pilchard was stalking Mija. She was lying in wait around the corner of the living room where the hall enters the room. Mija was frozen in place in the hallway and I nearly stepped on her. (Memo to self: glasses in the morning.) I heard the growl and then looked down. 
I don't know what I can do about this. "Distressing" doesn't cover it. I worry that I'm going to come home to fur and blood and scratched eyes or faces. It makes the effort to trim Pilchard's claws very important. I tried playing with them last night but am not sure if that helps the arguments, burning off steam. Has the heat and the house being closed up gotten to them? 
Why the fan at the top of the post? Well, the other side effect is, as you can imagine because I have a long haired black cat, fur, everywhere. I didn't realize how much she shed until last weekend. I walked into the living room in the morning and the angle of the sun was just right. Good grief. Look at all that dust and fur. I need to clean out the fan. 
In spite of the current social misadventures and the fan sucking all the fur it can find into it, I wouldn't trade life with cats for life without cats. No, they don't tell me how their day has gone or help me puzzle out a problem or set out traps for the ants that were all over the kitchen counter last night. They provide companionship and that, alone, is enough. 
Beverage:  water

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