Most common question heard at Tabby’s Place: “How do you resist adopting all the kitties?” (Answer: it’s not easy.) Second most common question: “Don’t they fight?”
Answer: Yes…but less than you might think.
Now, I’m generally an easy-going creature, and I find most people pretty darn lovable. But if you threw me into a room with 17 strangers of assorted ages and personalities, and told me that we’d all be sharing the same beds, toys, food dishes and (rather public) toilets, I’m afraid it wouldn’t bring out the best in me.
Consider the fact that our cats make a peaceable kingdom out of this situation almost every day, and you might be inclined to give them each a medal.
That said, there are as many strategies for making the most of communal living as there are cats…and fighting is certainly one strategy. What’s amazing to me is that it isn’t the only, or even the preferred, option.
Take the felines we might categorize as “Cats Who Love Cats (And The Cats Who Love Them).” When faced with a new and unfamiliar neighbor or ten, these cats’ reaction is: love them. With gusto. (And do so rather indiscriminately, if you’re a feline-adorer on the scale of Ginger or Kurt. But more on their mushy crew in a future post.)
Then there’s the introvert contingency. I think this would be my strategy of choice. While a cat like Eleanor or Angelina doesn’t have anything against other cats, she feels safest and best in a “room of her own.” Neither a fighter nor a snuggler (with cats, that is), Eleanor creates her own little private oasis in Suite B by choosing to spend most of her time nestled in an open cage…at our cage-free sanctuary. Sigh. (Chalk it up to “cats will be cats.” At least she lets us fill her “room” with blankies and her own private supply of toys, treats and miscellaneous goodness.) With a dozen boisterous neighbors, many of whom reject the concept of personal space, a gentle girl like Eleanor keeps the peace by keeping to herself.
But, finally, there are the cats behind the “yes” to the second-most-frequently-asked question at Tabby’s Place. Tiny, Nuttin, Anastasia and others do fight their way to the title of “top cat”…and that’s why we’re extremely grateful that one of our most faithful volunteers, NM, is a feline behavioral consultant. (I think of her as our “school psychologist.”)
NM is an ace when it comes to cracking cat crazies. For instance, all was well in Suite C for the longest time: other than tough-guy Tiny, the room was filled exclusively with Cats Who Love Cats. Although Tiny (who, by the way, doesn’t live up to his name at all) had no use for his feline neighbors, he was content to reign over them placidly from high atop a large, open crate. Nobody else ever attempted to sit on the crate, and Tiny never attempted to annihilate anybody (a definite improvement over Tiny’s previous behavior in Suite B).
But then…somebody moved the kitty furniture around in the suite.
Chaos was unleashed! The fierce Tiny of days past returned with a vengeance, making mockery of the very question “Do they fight?”.
It was NM who immediately identified the problem: that all-important large crate, Tiny’s crate, had been relocated…and the once-calm tyrant was shaken back into his old, violent ways.
So do they fight? Some of ’em do, some of the time. But, with the help of Cats Who Love Cats, a marvelous feline behavioral consultant, a layout that makes cats feel secure, and (sometimes) a bit of kitty Prozac, it all works out.