by Elisa Black-Taylor
Good day readers. I'm sorry this isn't an article on how cats choose their cat friends. I need help and the internet has very little to offer me on this subject. So I'm turning to the readers here for guidance.
Let me explain the situation at my cat sanctuary. I have a total of 15 cats. Lola was first, then Furby came along when Lola was about eight months old. So by the time I started rescuing in late November of 2010 they were buddies and still are.
I've done three rescues where I brought home members of the same family. The first litter, about six weeks old, which I affectionately call "the MandyLane gang," are Mandy, Sammy and Jasper. Mandy was the only girl.
Then we have Mia and Lucky, a mother and son. There was a girl kitten who died after she was mistakenly spayed while suffering from a serious URI. Lucky earned his name before we even left the shelter. He was LUCKY to survive the URI. Mia is around two years old and Lucky was between three and four months old at the time of rescue.
Finally we have Sheela and Shirley, nine month old sisters who appear to be a Maine Coon mix. I haven't had them quite two weeks yet. They slept together in the bed we made up in the tub for their first night at home. I also caught them sleeping on the bookcase the other night. Other than that-nothing. They act as if they're strangers.
Then there's Casper, who had a slight identity crisis last week as he was eating off of my plate and I realized things just didn't look right "down there." So now Casper is Cassie and scheduled for spaying on April 6 when Mandy goes in for hers. Cassie was a emaciated little kitten at the time of rescue. The shelter had nicknamed him Scrawny. Cassie was a single cat rescue, but she fits into this story quite a bit. Sorry for the confusion here folks.
I know everyone probably thinks cats of the same family stay together, but in my case that's totally not happening. At least not as often as I thought it would.
Mia and Lucky never lay together. They haven't since the first few days after rescue. Lucky decided he wanted to play and sleep with the MandyLane gang. I think they've made him an honorary brother.
Lola has decided she likes Mia and tries to get Mia to play. Lola also likes Lucky and will allow him to sleep on top of the clothes dryer.
I may as well mention Gizzy while she's on my mind. Gizzy hates all cats and loves people. The cats all avoid her because she doesn't want to play or sleep with or have any contact with ANY of them. We still love her and call her our "demon cat" because she can growl, hiss, spit and slap at the same time. Gizzy is around three years old and came from a broken home.
Mia claimed a chair in the kitchen about a month ago when she came out of hiding. She's usually there sleeping alone or with Jasper or Mandy. She's taken a few under the bed naps with Furby. I've never seen her with anyone else. She's a very sweet kitty and gets along with all of the other cats.
Cassie claimed one of the boxes on the kitchen bar. She stayed in there roughly two months, only coming out long enough to eat and go to the litter box. I don't know if she enjoyed her box with the pet thermal pad or if she thought she HAD to stay in the box. Cassie has finally come out of her box and turned into a part time lap cat.
Cassie also allows other cats to sleep with her now. Lucky, Mandy and now Shirley are allowed to curl up and take a nap. Not just in the cat box, but also on the couch.
Mandy also likes to sleep in the kitchen chair beside Mia. Mia either doesn't mind or is simply too lazy to make her move. Jasper also likes to take a snooze next to Mia. To look at Jasper you'd think they were related. I can assure you they're not.
I got up the other morning and discovered Shirley in the cat box with Cassie. They've formed a friendship in one week.
And Furby was giving the kittens in the MandyLane gang a tongue bath and sleeping with them from the beginning. Again-no relation-just friends. Take a look at this video of Furby and Sammy.
I can tell Furby's favorite new cat is Lucky. They chase each other a lot and sleep together most days.
You wouldn't believe how many of my friends ask me what I do to keep the cats from fighting. My only answer is in how I choose which animals to rescue. When I look at the list of euthanasia cats from GCAC there are only a few that REALLY grab my attention. They're all beautiful and they all need a rescuer. I hate the fact I can't save them all. Maybe it's my empathic ability that leads me to some and not to others. I honestly don't know.
So how do cats choose cat friends? I forgot to mention I only have one talking cat in my sanctuary and that's Shirley. Any time I look at Shirley she starts "talking" to me. I'll meow back at her and I swear sometimes we have a conversation going on between us. I hate to tell Shirley I'm not all that fluent in "cat."
As I said earlier, the internet is no help on this subject and I'm very curious. Since my cats aren't very vocal and most are downright polite to the new arrivals, what do they judge each other by?
I wonder if meal etiquette is involved. If the cats get along well while eating then perhaps they form friendships that way. Or is it the low stress atmosphere I try to maintain?
Then there's the "lap theory." If I have a cat in my lap and another wants some time with me, I often end up with two cats in my lap. Check out the above picture of Cassie and Mandy the first time Mandy announced she wanted to sleep on Cassie. This look is priceless. I wonder now if Mandy knew before we did that Cassie's a girl because Mandy has been fond of her from the beginning.
Sweet little Mandy is also my welcoming committee to the new additions. Mandy loves EVERYONE!
So what do you all think? How are these cats forming friendships? Are they picking up on subtle hints that a certain cat would make a good cat buddy? Is there an odor put off, or could it be manners? I've gotten curious about all of this.
I'm just glad I've made as many good decisions as I have selecting which cats will get along with other cats in my sanctuary. I can think of nothing worse than a houseful of cats who don't get along. Actually I can. A house full of relatives who don't get along so let's not go there. LOL.
Have a great day everyone!
P.S. For many many more photos go to Fu rby the Feral on Facebook and check out the three Furby's Halfway House Album. I also have links to all the rescue stories at www.furbythecat.shutterfly.com along with a chip in link to donate to the spay/neuter of the kittens next month.