The dog and I live with five cats. (Insert who-in-their-right-mind rant here.) It is almost a peaceable kingdom, with one glaring – and hissing – exception.
Shadow the rescue dog, age about 8, likes everybody. She terrified kitten Leo until Leo discovered the dog tail as toy. Now all but one of the cats like the dog.
Shadow and Luna
Luna and Bop, age 10, came from the same shelter on the same day. They mostly get along but never much bonded. We blame Bop.
The oldsters, Bop and Luna, age 10.
Luna likes everybody. For a long time he feared the dog. Eventually this fear evolved to a play arrangement with surprisingly specific terms: the dog can chase Luna if the dog is in the backyard first and Luna arrives. In all other locations and situations, no chasing.
A new familiar sight – Luna napping with a youngster, in this case, Bo.
Arrow, Leo, and Bo, age 11 months, came from two different shelters on the same day. They could not be more loving and friendly to each other. All three are the sweetest cats I’ve ever known. Otherwise they have quite distinct personalities.
The youngsters, Bo, Leo, and Arrow, when they first joined the household.
Bop tolerates the dog but chases her if dinner is delayed and she is crabby. Ditto Bop with her life partner, Luna. The reality is that Bop wants to be an only animal in a household where she never will be.
Bop hates the kittens and for months we had to keep them separate – no easy task in our 700 square foot home – lest she kill them. Now that two of the kittens are bigger than Bop, we let them mingle. The kittens are learning to stand their ground. We have six spray bottles of water stationed all over the house and yard. We spray Bop whenever we catch her messing with a kitten. Oh so gradually the violence seems to be lessening. But there are some days – you can just tell – Bop won’t be able to relax until she has kicked some kitten butt.
The situation is further complicated by the similarity in looks between mean old Bop and sweet young Arrow. What amazes me: the kittens can’t tell them apart, either! I thought animals used smell to identify. Maybe not, or maybe they can’t distinguish Bop from Arrow because the smells are so mixed up at our house. Whatever the explanation, the other youngsters, Bo and Leo, are always doing doubletakes when a tuxedo cat walks in.
There were too many instances of Leo and Bo clearly mistaking the two – running from their best friend Arrow, or running toward their enemy Bop – so now Bop wears a collar with a bell. That seems to have helped some.
Typical sight around the household: Bop menacing a youngster.
This time, the target is Arrow, just awakened from a nap to find Bop glaring at her.
Pop quiz: who is this? Bop or Arrow? (answer on next page)