We’ve been cat sitting out in Rockaway Park for the past week or so, and I’ve had a chance to observe both cat behavior and a subtle adjustment of my own behavior. There are three cats that live there; Koko, Beti, and Prithi. The last two are kittens, sisters. Koko is an older, much bigger male. Before my friends Ezra and Jenny left for 17 days in Spain, Ezra took Koko to the vet because he keeps peeing in the sink. The vet’s solution was to pull out six of the cat’s teeth, to the tune of $1,600 or so. The cat came home with a big swollen face, and promptly started scratching at the spot where his teeth were the second they boarded the plane to Spain. This scratching of the cheek produced a hot spot, a big red raw spot on the cat’s face. The vet forgot to provide one of those goofy cone head collars for the cat. Koko held off pissing in the sink for the first couple of days, opting instead to piss on my Havaianas flip-flops, then on the bathroom rug. Of course when he did my flip-flops he got piss all over the floor as well. “I guess some more teeth have to go,” I said to Danusia.
Koko is a big hairy cat, like an Angora but not a pure breed. What do you call a mutt cat? A smutt? This cat is as big as a raccoon, yet he has this dainty little mewl. Our cat has stronger lungs. Very strong, we found out. When all of this was planned, the cat sitting, that is- we discussed the logistics of it all. Danusia was happy to spend 17 days three blocks from the beach. I really don’t care for the beach, and I dreaded the long commute to any job I might pick up, so I wasn’t so enthusiastic. And then there was the question of Kiwi, our calico cat who’s lived by herself for a few years now, and had to learn to get along with the others, because the only solution was to bring her with us. When we first got Kiwi, she had some spraying problem of her own, so this is nothing new for me. Eventually she stopped, Danusia said she just needed to be loved and made to feel welcome. I did what I could but always referred to Kiwi as her cat. “Oh, you have a cat?” I remember someone asked. “My wife has a cat.” I’d say. The first night there, Kiwi was terrified, and spent the first few hours at Ezra’s cottage under the couch hissing and growling. She wouldn’t let either of us pull her out so we’d left her there when we went to bed. I found her in the bathroom in the middle of the night, so at least she came out from under the couch. When Danusia finally got a hold of her the next day, after much hissing and growling, she made the most god-awful noise as Danusia hurried up the stairs with the cat held at arm’s length. It sounded like she was being fed feet first into a wood chipper, like in that Fargo movie. The next day, as I watched the kittens double team her and Koko loom over her she became my cat. I jumped off the couch to shoo away the offenders and comfort my distressed kitty. I actually felt protective and possessive of her.
Feeding was another chore; the three cottage denizens attack the food plates voraciously, stopping only when all the food is gone. Kiwi, on the other hand, eats a little bit and then walks away to groom, then goes back for a little more. Of course the other cats instantly ran over to her plate and ate whatever she hadn’t. Since then I developed a system where I give her a little, let her finish and return to the plate when she wants more, and give her more, all the while fending off the monsters.
This morning after feeding this crowd I was having my coffee and I saw Kiwi go into one of the litter boxes. Koko saw her and ran over to wait for her exit, and when she came out, he chased her away. She ran up the stairs screeching, and I in turn chased Koko away, shouting, “Leave her alone!” There are four litter boxes, and Koko won’t even go in that one, but he’s got to act tough, show the new cat who’s boss. But he forgets who the real big cat is around here. I made sure I gave her some of her favorite treats in front of Koko, who isn’t supposed to have dry food because of his dental work. I could see he was clearly hoping for some treats. Tough luck, cat. Maybe if he was nicer to my cat.