As with any animal pack, there is a hierarchy. Mine is no acception. Even though I make jokes about princesses and diva's, there are grains of truth in those titles. Though the following post may sound like a soap opera, I assure you - it's true. Anyone that has ever been owned by more than one pet will relate.
Let me start with one item of note - Dusty is a female. Yes, the vet mis-sexed her. When I first found her and looked - I thought female. The vet said male. When we were in Maine on vacation, I held Dusty, belly up, to my Mom and asked "Do you see a penis or a lil vajayjay?" She thought as I did. There were no lil hidden testacles. Doesn't give me a lot of confidence in my new vet. Son just chimed in with "Another girl?" He lives in a home of 5 females, he's a bit outnumbered.
I am the Pack Leader of this crew. Everyone knows I am the Alpha Female, or The Boss, everyone except my 17 year old son. That's OK though, he's the fledgling male of this bunch. He's about to leave the nest. Unless he changes his attitude, he's going to be pushed from this nest, fledged or not.
Now, onto the pack standing.
I consider Cuddles the Queen Mum. She's been around the longest, she's either 20 or 21 - we're not certain. My Bro found her in a dumpster in his Jr. year of highschool, that's also the year he repeated. Hence the confusion. She has no real power. She is old. She just wants to live out her days in peace and comfort. She's earned it.
Tabitha is the princess. She's spoiled and feels she deserves all the attention. She self righteously feels that she is the only one qualified to torment the Queen Mum. Tabitha has begrudgingly allowed Julieta to remain, only because Julieta obeys her commands and stays out of her way.
All has been quiet and harmonious in our little kingdom until, Dusty.
Dusty is a usurper. Dusty has upset the delicate balance of things. Dusty doesn't give a shit about a hierarchy. Dusty is here to party, and wreak havoc. Dusty takes great delight in tormenting the Princess, she's the only one that fights back.
The Queen Mum made her position known from the beginning. Pretty much a "Don't Fuck with ME" stance. I like her style, lay down the rules from the beginning. Dusty got the message. Other than running back and forth from the bedroom and leaping over the Queen Mum in the hallway, just brushing her fur, Dusty basically leaves her alone. It's actually pretty funny to watch. Poor old Cuddles is hard of hearing and doesn't hear Dusty coming. By the time Cuddles hisses, Dusty is in the living room, only to repeat the process while heading towards my bedroom.
Julieta was heartbroken and insulted by the hostile reception she received from the new addition. She hung her head with rejection and retreated to her den. Dusty realized that Julieta wasn't going to eat her and has since decided that Julieta's tail is a most interesting prey - as long as the big threat; the teeth, are facing the other way. Dusty even became so brazen as to attack Julieta's tail when she was laying on the couch. Julieta wasn't in the mood for the sharp claws and made her feelings known by a growl and jab. Dusty's response was to turn her back against the couch (if I can't see the dog - she can't see me) and continue her assault. I was proud of her for setting some limits with a second, firmer, vocal admonition. There was nothing predatory in her action, just a "back off, bitch" message. Julieta has even expressed some playful interest by approaching Dusty with a wagging tail and playful stance. I've seen her attempt this with the other felines, rejection was all she got, and she immediately backed off. Dusty still isn't sure of Julieta's intentions and responds by becoming a Halloween cat. Kind of a joke at her size, even when turned sideways with a fluffy tail. I have a feeling this will change in the future. Being the two with the least seniority in the pack, I have a feeling they will become the best of friends.
Tabitha, on the other hand, had a "hissy" fit when Dusty arrived. Tabitha would hiss and run away. It took her a few days before she came out of the bedroom. Bad move on her part, gave up her power.
Dusty has become the Court Jester. Or, as my son referred to her this morning, "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour". She takes great pleasure in tormenting Tabitha on her thrown (the back of the recliner - the "highest" position in the living room). The taunts range from simple jumping and touching to all out pounces during naps.
Yes, the fur has flown.
Cat fights sound much worse than they actually are. Tabitha, being part Siamese, is especially vocal. The fights are, at times, so loud as to draw my son away from his video game. He appears from his room, eyes wide, wondering if he will find blood spatter on the walls. He's amazed at the ferocious sounding encounters.
I've only found the need to intervene with Dusty's behavior on a few occasions. Any interest in my bird (or Mom's Cockatiel when on vacation), has been met with a couple quick streams from a water spray bottle. I once found her hanging from the side of the bakers rack I have my birdcage on. Bird squawks alerted me. I always have the spray bottle handy and nailed her twice. She hasn't seemed to bother Galileo since, although, I don't know what happens when I am not at home. In Maine, after the first squirt - just the sound would cause "kitty burn out" ( the art of tearing up the floor trying to gain traction from back feet moving so fast). On vacation, Dusty spent her nights in a bedroom with me and Julieta. Julieta had one of two twin beds in the room. The second night, I had to put Dusty in her carrier because she wouldn't settle down. After that, she would go into purr mode and knew it was time to sleep. When we returned from vacation, I had to put Dusty in her carrier at 11:30 PM on the first night because she wouldn't stop harrassing the other felines. She spent the night there, on the bed with me. The next night, when the same behavior ensued, I put her in the bathroom with a litter box. Since then, she knows that when I go to bed - playtime is over. She's a smart kitty. There are going to be problems though, until Tabitha asserts herself.
I never thought of Tabitha as insecure, until now. She seeks more attention and affection to be assured of her position, which I lovingly give. She needs to get over the jealousy and assert her position as Queen. I'm sure she will reach her limit at some point and lay down a beating.
Until then, I'm enjoying the antics of the Court Jester.