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Friday, February 10, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

I'm a busy person. There is no doubt about it. I sometimes work long hours, and almost always have a sport or social event on any given weeknight. Add that to a plethora of weekend activities, and I am home for only a few precious hours a day. Some time ago, I noticed that Peaches, my cat that has been with me for 2 years, was becoming rather upset when I'd get home after a long absence. I figured I would bring her home a little friend to keep her company.

Enter Mocha. A 10-month-old Bengal kitten, with a wonderfully sweet personality and an inherent love for toys and running water. I figured that the two of them could keep each other company during the day, followed by a shiny happy reunion of cute music and dancing fairies when I returned.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.

Peaches was not happy at the new addition to our little family. She would stalk and intimidate Mocha, to the point that Mocha would stay in her crate for hours on end, too afraid to even go to the litterbox 2 feet away. Mocha was scared out of her mind, and Peaches was being a brute.

It was time for a Slinky intervention. It was time for me to appoint myself the Kitty Referee !

I kept Mocha in the spare bedroom, with her food, water, litterbox and a whole assortment of toys while I was out. Every night, I came back to find the room in varying stages of disarray; cat toys, my slinkies, stuffed animals, all strewn around the room. Hey, at least the cat was having fun. I'd put the room back together, only to come back to it being trashed the next day. No problem !

The big issue was Peaches. She was constantly aggressive and intimidating, even using Mocha's litterbox when I had the door open, to assert her dominance. I don't mind Peaches being the dominant cat. She is the stronger personality after all. But I can't have her chasing Mocha around and causing her to use her crate as a litterbox. So I put on the virtual striped uniform and started to referee.

Every time Peaches put herself into her stalking stance, I'd gently put her on her side, lying her down in a submissive pose. Every time she made aggressive moves, I'd say "Hey !" or "No !". If she started walking towards Mocha, I'd say "Peaches, be good !" in a warning tone. And every single time Peaches gave chase, she'd get a timeout.

Just like kids.

Well guess what. It worked ! Peaches learned, very quickly, that going after Mocha would result in 10 minutes in the bathroom with the light off. If I even say one word in that warning tone, she backs off. She knows I won't let her be a bully. She knows she'll get a timeout if she's bad. So she behaves. Just like a smart child would.

This morning, the two of them were jockeying for a space on the bed beside me. To my surprise, Mocha swatted at Peaches to protect her spot. Peaches swatted back, then fell sleep.

Later, as if thumbing her nose, Mocha proceeded to use Peaches' litterbox.

That's my girl !

I left them integrated today when I went to work. Hopefully their fur will be intact when I return.

I think they'll be fine.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Amy said...

We just got a new cat yesterday and are having a hard time with introducing them. The new cat seems fine but the other cat starts growling and hissing. We are going to the vet today to find out the best way to have them introduced.

February 18, 2006 at 9:17:00 AM PST  

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