Thursday, July 14, 2011

Of Catnip and Birds

I mentioned in my last post about a change in Leo and Star’s relationship. But first, let’s review where they were.

When we got Leo, Star immediately proclaimed that she was top cat, that he was a lowly serf and she was Queen of all she surveyed. Leo seemed to accept his place and, if not exactly cowered in fear, certainly respected the old bitc.. Er, lady.

We got a pheromone plug that was supposed to calm the kitties, and hopefully make them more inclined to be friendly toward each other. It did nothing at all for Star. However it worked on Leo, it gave him a new boldness. He stopped hiding. He stopped being intimidated. He started pouncing Star... Not exactly the outcome we were looking for.

Eventually we started ‘punishing’ Leo for attacking Star by putting him in the cat room when he was too aggressive. After two time outs, he stopped immediately attacking her on sight. So he learned, but he was still the aggressor when downstairs. Star defends the upstairs with growl and paw, but downstairs, she had seemed cowed, yet ready to defend herself. I’d call it an uneasy truce, except that there was no real truce..

Cut to this week, Monday to be specific. We got a new tub of catnip and some more toys. (Always need new toys right! Especially with Leo the toy destroyer around.) I had been wanting to get Da Bird for Leo since he, 1) loves feathers, and 2) loves toys on string he can jump after. We found one! We used to have one, but Star preferred toys that moved along the ground rather than through the air, so when it broke, we didn’t replace it. We hadn’t had catnip in the house, except for what was on the scratchies, since we got Leo. Who knew these two purchases would change everything.

Star must have sensed that there was catnip in the house because she was all perky ears and wiggly nose around the bag from the pet store. She was even too busy being nosey to hiss at Leo, who was also interested, but probably because he sensed there were feathers around. Boy can find a hidden feather in no time flat..

I opened the tub of catnip and showed it to Star first, she went all wide eyes and seemed to want to jump into the tub! I showed it to Leo, and he just looked at it, then at me as if to say, ‘this is not feathers..’ Not the overwhelming response I thought I’d get, but ok, maybe it’s overwhelming in the tub.

I don’t know how anyone else serves catnip to their kitties, but I always sprinkle it on newspaper so they can either eat it or roll in it without having to lick up the carpet. I don’t want to see blue hairballs..

So I put a good size pinch on two pieces of newspaper and gave Star her’s first because I thought she was going to jump out of her fur if she didn’t get it soon. I guess I didn’t know she was an addict.. She started eating it almost before I set it down. The expression on her face when she looked up at me, tiny leaves trailing from her face, eyes all large and bright.. Boy do I wish I’d had the camera ready!

Leo had been lounging on the Royal Footstool, and hadn’t moved, seemingly uninterested. I set his paper of catnip next to him. It wasn’t just ‘seemingly’ uninterested. He barely gave it a cursory sniff before scooting a little further away. Say what?? A cat who doesn’t like catnip? Say it ain’t so!

Is it not fresh? I picked up a little of it and sniffed it, smelled strong and fresh to me! Still, I rolled some between my fingers, hopefully to get the oils or whatever activated (as I sometimes do with oregano) so it will smell stronger. I pushed the leaves into a little pile and nudged it toward Leo. He glanced at it again, then acted all affronted that I was taking up room on his Royal Footstool with those weeds.. Then he jumped down and walked away to lay in the open door and watch something really interesting, like bugs walking by.

Star happily finished her catnip and licked up some of Leo’s as well. And she’d been downstairs for quite a while without hissing or growling. Probably because her mouth was full... But still, this was good!

And it got better!

When Star went to lay on the other couch to veg out and probably watch the pretty psychedelic colors float before her eyes, I got out Da Bird. I started waving it back and forth, letting it make it’s bird-flying-by sound, to catch Leo’s attention. He was still concentrating on showing me the Back of Disrespect and watching out the door and clearly was not done being upset about the weed incident.

I kept trying to entice him when suddenly Star dove off the couch and began LEAPING after Da Bird! Star! Leaping! I was in shock and called Greg to witness this with me as she kept going nuts after Da Bird! She’s got fast paws and caught it several times when she would give it a gnawing it would never forget before I could get it away from her only to start all over again. This is my little old lady cat? Princess Hissyface? Miss Put-it-on-the-floor-or-I-shall-ignore-it?


And that’s not the only change in her. Emboldened by either the nip or the extreme exercise, she has reasserted herself as the top cat. Three times that night she attacked Leo to prove that she was the boss and she wouldn’t take his stuff any more. (Leo was uninjured, her attack consisted of whapping at him about six times in a second, usually missing actually hitting him but making a loud slapping on whatever he was sitting on like the footstool or his favorite folding chair.)

Cowed, Leo spent the next two days hiding from Star under the footstool and behind the couch. He’s given her back the top spot, but I couldn’t have him hiding like that. So tonight we made a fuss over him, making sure he knew he could stay out. He got the hint, and is back to his normal self, sans looking like he’s going to attack Star every time he sets eyes on her.

Star has taken back the high places. BL (Before Leo) Star always slept on the back of the couch, always. After Leo got bold, he took it over and she hadn’t been up there since. But now, in the last few days, she has been laying, if not actually sleeping there, again. She seems to have to keep an eye on the infidel, though she has dozed off occasionally.

I don’t know if this is just another up and down, as is par for the course with these two, or if things are improving. I still don’t know if getting Leo a friend his age is a good idea, or a bad one. Seems like we’d have to start all over with Star if we did, but that Leo would have someone to play with.

I have made one decision, and that’s not to rush into a decision just because we’re on vacation. I would still welcome and appreciate any thoughts and prayers on the issue because we honestly don’t know which is the best path.

At this point, I’m just glad to see more of Star downstairs, even if we have to build Leo’s confidence again. Which isn’t a hard task really, he was much better tonight already.

Some of Da Bird action.
Star was hard to photograph as she was a wild cat!
Stop touching me! Ok, you're gonna get the nomming of your life!

MINE! Bwhahahaha! Caught you feathered fiend!

Leo.. a little less animated, but still very interested in Da Bird. As long as it came to him.
(He has since been seen leaping through the air after it, but when I was taking pictures, he was being a lazy butt)
Come closer so I can grab you..

I got it! Well, part of it.. I'll getcha later dude!


Random Felines said...

OMG - who knew catnip could make Star so bold. You are going to have to buy it in large quantities!!! MOL So long as Leo keeps coming out, letting Star have her way isn't such a bad thing....

Bryan said...

It can sometimes take several months for two cats to get along. Sometimes the best you can hope for is that they agree to not growl and attack each other anymore. Very important each one gets some one on one time with you, better if each can see you paying attention to the other. If you can play with both at the same time or sit between them and pet them they will start to feel comfortable being near each other. Just be willing to spend the time and give lots of love to each.