Cats & Other Strangers
Myth: "Cats do not get along well with other pets."
I haven’t always been a cat-only individual. When I met KC, I did not have any cats. He was 6 weeks old and had been abandoned by his mother. I was thinking about adopting him, but wondered how my roommate would take to this tiny intrusion into our lives. I was sitting at the top of some wooden steps, trying to decide, when KC began the arduous trek toward me. It was not easy for the little guy. But he was determined, so I took the furry little climber home to meet Daisy.
Daisy was my 18-pound French Lop bunny. She was queen of the house, and the only four-legged inhabitant. Female bunnies can get grumpy if they are not given proper attention. And she was big enough to break this little guy in two if she did not like him.
I needn’t have worried. Although Daisy was spayed, her maternal instinct kicked in as soon as she spotted the kitten. Her eyes lit up, and she took him under her paw, no questions asked. She was Mom — end of discussion. She cleaned him within an inch of his life and let him ride on her back while she hopped around showing off her new baby boy. She taught him to thump hard on the floor when he was mad or frightened or needed to warn her that I was coming and she’d better stop what she was doing (a habit he never lost).
They disagreed on only one issue: to bury or not to bury. I watched one day as little KC patiently tried to teach his mother how to bury her droppings in the litter. She watched very carefully and then hopped away. Every time she used the box, he would follow and cover up for her. He was very embarrassed with his uncouth mom. It was a battle of wills for their entire relationship. Whenever I cleaned the litter box, there was a scuffle to see who got to use it first. If KC got in first, he was happy, but if Daisy won the race he would pout as he carefully buried everything before using the box.
Daisy lived another five years, and they had a very loving natural relationship. KC was devastated when she died. I went on to have other rabbits, and they got along. But the mother-son relationship was one of a kind.
Odd-couple families are not unusual among animal-lovers. I have a catlover friend who fell for a new little baby a few years ago. She was happy with her five rescue cats and not thinking of adopting more. Until she met Willie. One look was all it took. And he felt the same. Willie is a fancy rat.
He had a drawer in her computer desk, so he was protected from the cats and could get love and attention whenever he asked for it. But she was still concerned about the five cats who seemed curious about the little interloper. She wanted them to get along somehow, but was worried.
It turned out Willie was a born cat chaser. He took on all comers and would chase them around the house endlessly. The cats did not know what to think of this brave little rodent, so they chose discretion over valor and ran in terror. Even though they could easily have had him for breakfast, they chose to let the rat be top cat. When Willie comes into a room, he owns it. Even if a cat is eating when he comes in, the cats step back and let him have what he wants.
Now Willie is a senior and can’t run much anymore, but all it takes is one look for the cats to scatter. Willie has lived longer than average for his kind. But he is a fighter. Just like little KC straining to get up those steps to claim a new mom, Willie hangs on to life. And when he is gone, I am sure those cats will miss their little tormentor. He is after all, family.
Kat Brown of Albuquerque is a lifelong animal-lover, especially of cats. She wears many hats, but animal-lover is perhaps the one that has given her the most pleasure. Share your cat stories or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.