Which Team Are You On?

A new cat in a multicat household may form unexpected alliances among the former group.


Last month, I told the readers of Catnip about my adoption of Tony, a young white-and-black adult male who was rescued this treacherous winter from the streets of Queens, New York — and who ended up making a home with me and my two cats in my house in the Hudson Valley a few months ago.

I followed the proper and patient rules of introduction — and while they seemed to work fairly well, I was in for a couple of surprises.

Most peculiar to me was that this new feline “intrusion” in the household caused an unexpected bond between my other two cats — Rocky, a seven-year-old cat (predominantly white with some tabby markings), and Puja, an eight-year-old tabby female.

While they have lived together for the majority of their lives, they have never gotten along particularly well. Rocky exhibits the sporadic behavior of an annoying bully, while Puja can be described as passive aggressive (getting her knocks in when least expected). The only evidence of this ongoing struggle is that Rocky often has telltale scratch marks on his nose — while Puja remains unscathed.

I was expecting some type of bonding within the group — maybe Rocky would finally have the guy friend/younger brother he’s always wanted! Or Puja would gain that mild-mannered fella to take naps with on cold winter days.

Actually, the more I anthropomorphized the situation, the more I realized that it was now officially Team Rocky-Puja versus Team Tony. It started each morning with the two “home team” cats preventing the “visiting team” from making his way downstairs to the kitchen (where the cats are fed). Lucky for me, my cats are not the type to wake me up before dawn with a paw to the cheek imploring me for kibble.

So it was about the time I would wake up anyway when I had to endure the very noisy fracas of wailing, growling and what sounded like the beginning of some serious bloodshed. The first few times, I was truly concerned and dashed out of bed to deal with the situation.

But what I found was Puja at the bottom of the stairs, Rocky at the top — and poor (hungry) Tony paralyzed in the middle. I couldn’t really tell who was making the gutteral sounds, until I realized it was coming from deep within Rocky (before now, I had only heard him make a high-pitched kitten-like meow).

I chased them out of the schoolyard, got them fed and watered — and I really hoped that the episodes would grow fewer and farther apart.

But they didn’t. If anything, it escalated into something a little more pre-meditated and sinister — with poor, mellow Tony watching his back and skulking around corners to avoid the bullies. Ironic because Tony is young and strong (Rocky is small and relatively frail for a male; and Puja is just quite fat).

But it made me start to think if rehoming him was a good idea. Visiting friends fell in love with him and his easy-going temperament, so it got me thinking … would all the cats be happier with Tony in another home? Stay tuned.


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