Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Beautiful Sally has an attitude

Sally is beautiful. She is feisty, has boundless energy, and when it is her idea, she can be so lovable. 

Trouble is, she has a bit of a mean streak too. I hope she outgrows it since she is only six months old. She bites and scratches, growls, and cries.

I'm not sure what lies behind her prima donna attitude, but I believe it is based on insecurity with a little fear mixed in. Bringing Sally into our lives has been an adjustment for us all. 

Her much older step-sisters Kenni and Kasey are unaccustomed to having another cat intrude into their domain. They haven't been very welcoming. 

Bonding with Sally hasn't been easy for my senior cats. Not only are they getting older, but in the last few years they have lost their two sisters Ryan and Boo as well as their mother Timi. And, they are now 15 years old, so the rest of us seniors, they be a little less tolerant than they once were. They have been used to it being just the five of them for so long. For all of their lives, they have interacted only with their litter mates and always had their mother around too to teach them right from wrong. If I remember right, they were all good kitties and although a tad mischievous, they never really were problematic. In fact, I think I've noted many times in the past, they are an absolute joy in my life. I raised them from the moment they were born and never saw the kind of aggression I've seen in them lately until started 'playing' with them. Sally was certainly the aggressor. She is even mean to me sometimes, the lady who doles out cat food, changes the litter box and openly adores them all. 

I had hoped the elders could be surrogate mothers to Sally, try to teach her the ropes, but that turned out not to be the case. When these three are together, it is like being in a jungle with lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!

Sally is here because she was dumped at a friend's house a few months ago when she was just a small kitten, I have no idea what her first days and weeks were like. Just the fact that she was unwanted and then abandoned is bad enough, but I have no idea if she was nurtured by her mother, father, or if she had siblings. Did she fend for herself without that maternal bonding? Was she dumped because of her mean streak? I've noticed that poor Sally does not knead like other cats. Some people call this behavior "making biscuits," but in our house we call it "dancing." Long ago my son Chris coined the phrase. In fact, I have only seen her dance once or twice. This behavior is often associated with a kitten nursing, and signifies comfort and pleasure. Did she lose her mother and have to be bottle fed? Sally is only now starting to exhibit contentedness. She does purr, when she curls up on my lap or a comfy quilt. I do think she is learning that she is loved, perhaps for the very first time.

Sally has the potential to be loving and gentle, but that is only when she is Dr. Jeckyl. It is when she becomes Mr. Hyde that it concerns me.

To be fair, all the kitties are going through struggles to find their way. I want to help any way I can, but none of them are innocent. Sally has been the aggressor; something the elders are not at all used to. But they are fighting back. The noises they make during this interaction is far worse than it sounds. Sally especially makes really scary noises, like she is being maimed. But there is never a wound nor blood anywhere to be seen. I suspect it is more like very hard playing. 

I am starting to see faint signs that this may just be a horrible phase, not unlike her teething. For example when Kasey, left, joins me in the evening as I watch TV or play word games on my phone. Sally will now jump into my lap too. They have even gone so far as to hold hands, or should I say I hold hands with both of them at the same time making their paws touch. Sometimes though Sally will reach out and touch Kasey's paw without my urging. Kenni, below, is taking a little longer, but she is starting to tolerate Sally. It is interesting to watch their behavior. It has become somewhat predictable and is often funny.

There is a positive in all this running around after each other. Kenni and Kasey are not just old fat cats anymore. The exercise they get, as they chase Sally through the house at warp speed is good for them. They have lost some weight and no longer spend the day like slugs as they did before.

I suspect Sally just wants to play, almost constantly, and with anything. Of course, these two are jealous of my affection for her. It is almost like they put up with my complete adoration of Ryan for their whole lives. Everybody, including them, knew Ryan was my favorite. While I and possibly them too, continue to grieve her loss, there seems to be some competition for my affection. No one will ever replace Ryan. I still miss her every day.

I hope Sally calms a bit in the next six months. As she grows the struggle will continue for Alpha Kitty title. Little do they know, I am the Alpha Kitty, but they will all get it one of these days. 

Not a day goes by that I don't laugh at Sally's antics. Nor does a day go by that we don't have a cat fight. Sally is still smaller and can weasel into tiny places the others can't get to. But as she gets bigger, I expect she will slow down a little. She has the potential to be a sweetheart. She just needs to shed her Mr. Hyde demeanor. I can wait, but for now, can't we all just get along?


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