Welcome to Orcmid's Lair, the playground for family connections, pastimes, and scholarly vocation -- the collected professional and recreational work of Dennis E. Hamilton
Friday Cat Picture: Household Territory-Sharing
I just stumbled over the book “Do Cats Hear with their Feet?” in the local public library. It’s a quick read and, while I may have been reading faster than necessary, I don’t think the book answers that particular question.
What I did learn were some facts of cat territoriality that I had witnessed in an anecdotal fashion when Askani (pictured on the right) came into the life of our twins, litter mates Teh Amor and Princess Psyche (looking like a two-headed cat on the left, with Teh in front).
Since Teh and Princess came into my household as tiny kittens, they have been constant companions. They still nap and sleep together curled in a ball.
Askani had a hard time being accepted into that companionship, although there are moments of quiet truce.
The first problem was that the original female, Princess was so disturbed about the arriving stranger that she hissed and agitated when anything black was nearby. This created a problem for Teh, who didn’t understand what this had to do with him. Teh spent a great deal of time flopping on his side and being submissive to Princess. (On occasion, when Teh would be agitated over another cat seen or scented outside our windows, he also was aggressive to all other cats in sight, including his sister.)
Askani was mostly a scaredy-cat during those early times, spending a great deal of time under furniture. She still tends to do that, although she also has some off-the-floor places where she will curl up and sleep undisturbed by the other cats.
The first signs of a truce came in the first years in Sunnyvale, California, when all three cats decided it was all right to sleep together on the bed with Vicki and I, so long as the twins (also known as the kids and the teen-agers) were on one side of our sleeping bodies and Askani found a spot on the opposite side.
For the ten years we have been together in Seattle, there’s been a new pattern. Teh is agressive with Askani and the fur flies from time to time, far more than when he scraps with his sister. On other occasions, Askani will take a paw-swipe at either of them passing too close to her, and she is the one with the growling and hissing over intrusions too far into her personal space.
Lately, they have found a common hang-out on the comforter-covered sofa in my office where there is the only day-time human presence. Askani is the regular, with an occasional appearance of the twins. At night, they all spend their time here and I am sleeping on the sofa so that my phenomenal snoring does not disturb the peace of the household upstairs. They arrange themselves around my body atop the comforter with Askani at one end, usually along my flank, and with the twins curled up at my feet.
They have also become comfortable being together alone on the sofa, with or without the teddy bear as a barrier. But it is clear that the twins are family and Askani is not of that clan. I also think my presence in the room influences their good behavior with each other.
The teddy bear came with the twins. I recently unearthed it while going through some boxes in the storage room adjacent to my basement office. I have been putting it on the sofa just for fun. It doesn’t seem to mean anything to any of the cats, except for Teh. He will use the poor teddy for kneading his claws in some sort of tactile frenzy. I supposed that is better than his usual attacks on arms of the sofa, but not by much.
The village-of-the-damned-cats eyes are a consequence of using on-camera flash. I used this photograph anyway, since here Askani has her eyes open while being wary about the goings-on, but not wary enough to rouse herself and move.
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