A year or so ago, I read a book called Cat vs. Cat: keeping peace when you have more than one cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Up till then, I had not realized that house cats have a “pecking order” too.
In the summer of 1994, we rescued a mama cat and her five kittens. Eventually, three of the kittens were adopted by friends, and we kept two. My daughter likes to give cats names from Shakespeare, so the mama cat became Caliban (because she had a severely distorted spine, a very short tail and a grumpy disposition) and the one male kitten was Tybalt. I put my foot down on naming the calico kitten Antonio, though, and thus she became Calypso.
Time has passed, life has gone on, and Caliban and Calypso are gone. In all his nearly-14-years, Tybalt, despite being larger than many small dogs, has never been the dominant cat. He got his butt kicked by his mother on a regular basis, and after Caliban died, Tybalt and Calypso did some wrangling for position, and what came out of it was that Tybalt wasn’t about to agree that Calypso was now the dominant cat, but he didn’t mind letting her think she was.
After Calypso died, Tybalt was an Only Cat for the first time in his life, and that took some getting used to, for all of us. Still, though, it gave him a bit of breathing room before we felt we were ready to adopt another cat.
Zoe came to us from a home where there were a lot of cats being fostered. It’s clear she’s not used to being the dominant cat, either. So what we have here is two second bananas trying to establish who’s who, and it’s extremely interesting to watch. I’m glad I read that book or I’d have had a lot less insight into what’s going on.
Tybalt’s not accustomed to asserting himself, and he’s such a non-hisser that the first few times he tried to hiss at Zoe, all he did was make himself cough. Zoe is apparently used to standing her ground, so she doesn’t just run away when Mr. Monster Kitty tries to move in on her. We’ve had a few scuffles and spats, and Tybalt seems terribly confused by the notion of asserting himself in the face of female-cat opposition, but I think his few months alone at the top have helped give him a bit more confidence.
So, I guess we will have to see how all this plays out. Zoe’s backed down a couple of times, but she’s also stood her ground a couple of times and has won. It’s kind of nice to have a female cat in the household who’s not cranky and doesn’t just hiss at Tybalt on general principles, I must say.Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.