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Yesterday, we had a feline meltdown of epic proportions. No blood, but plenty of growls and hisses, and a chorus of increasingly intense yowls in three-part harmony. The issue, as usual, was the desire of the catlets to play, and the desire of our three-year-old former feral to be LEFT ALONE, DAMN IT! They had been doing so well, that this display of temper was a bit of a shock.
We’ve had Midnight for about a year and a half. She was rescued by a friend, who fed Midnight all winter before gaining enough of her trust to be able to touch her. We had recently lost our young Tonkinese, and had to euthanize our remaining elderly cat when he became senile and began attacking us. It was the first time in 40 years that I had been catless, and I was not doing well without daily purr therapy. It took her a while to settle in, but she gradually made the adjustment from street to sofa. She still hasn’t lost all the street-cat wariness, and her startle reflex is quite impressive, but she is now very affectionate with us, and curious about friends and even first-time visitors.
Last July, we noticed that she was getting a little bored, so we began talking about getting her a pet. After talking with our vet (who has adopted several former ferals, herself) we decided to get two kittens: kittens, because adult cats accept babies more readily than other adult cats, and two because they would keep each other occupied most of the time without irritating Midnight.
So, we adopted Maxwell and Cavendish from our city’s Animal Control Services (aka the pound). After following the vet’s advice about slowly introducing them to the household, and keeping them separated at night (and whenever we weren’t around), by Halloween the catlets had the run of the house and Midnight was gradually adapting.
Most of the time, things go smoothly. Midnight has her own food bowl on a counter, while Maxwell and Cavendish jostle each other around a dish on the floor. They chase each other, nap together, and playfight enthusiastically all day long, and most of the night, while Midnight tries to ignore them. When Max is napping somewhere else, Cavendish and Midnight interact a bit, although Midnight tires of it sooner than Cav does. Cav has learned to back off when Midnight gets testy, though, so no harm is done.
The problem? Maxwell is the problem. He is a bully, and loves to chase Midnight away from the food dishes and litter box, pounce on her when she sleeps, and generally make her life miserable. Most of the time, after a short hissy fit, she just walks away. Sometimes, though, hostilities escalate and it becomes a serious nerve-shattering war. Max gets a time-out in my husband’s study (Max hates being shut up alone) and the rest of us get 10-to-15 minutes of blessed silence.
The vet suggested PetNaturals Calming Treats, and they do seem to help, reducing meltdown frequency from hourly to two or three times a week.
This could be a very long winter.