Thursday, May 3, 2012

To All My Cat People

Four months ago my cat Tiger died suddenly.  He was a healthy cat and his death was unexpected but at 12 years old he had a full and happy life.  He was 2 when I rescued him and my life will be forever changed because he was a part of it. 

My husband and I didn't want to go too long without a cat because we didn't want the dogs to lose their "cat manners".  A month after Tiger died we adopted two 1-1/2 year old tabby cats that came from the same litter.  They had been living in a foster home for a year and prior to that were living wild in some farmer's barn.  They were attached to each other so it was hard to place them since people were willing to take 2 cats and the SPCA didn't want to separate them. 

Initially we kept the cats completely separate from the dogs with occasional views of each other through baby gates or leashed visits.  Maybe we were too conservative initially because the dogs become extremely excited every time they see the cats and cannot be trusted to be left alone with them.  The cats mark anywhere the dogs sleep when they are allowed in other portions of the house so we have to limit their access as well.  One of the cats did get past the barriers while I was at work this week and when I came home one of my dogs had him cornered.  No fur was up, I don't think there was any aggression from the dog but he was very excited and had scratched the cat while jumping on him.  The cat had a small cut on his lip and was fine but the experience terrified me.  What if I hadn't gotten home when I did?  Would I have a dead cat on my hands?

Now it seems like we have set up the cats as some sort of forbidden prize for the dogs and they are obsessed with them.  A month ago my uncle died, leaving behind a 10 year old tabby cat.  In my blog from last month I talked about how sad I was that we couldn't find a place for Jones.  Since we brought Jones home my stress level has increased dramatically because now my house is divided in three.

The young cats are still separate from the dogs.  The dogs have had leashed time with Jones in the same room but their reaction is as volatile as it is with the young cats.  Jones has been an only cat his whole life and isn't used to having any animals around.  The young cats have been around other cats but they both have eye infections right now and I don't want them to get Jones sick since he is older and I want to keep his him healthy since he will need to have dental surgery this month to take care of his rotten teeth.  So my husband and I live separate lives behind doggie cats and screens.  The dogs are used to sleeping with us, Jones is used to sleeping with my uncle so we swap who sleeps with which pets each night. The young cats have each other and seem to be content with our visits during the day.  But we are not making any progress towards getting our house, our sanity or our marriage back. 

I worry that we were too conservative in the beginning and now we will need professional help to get them together, if we can ever get them together at all.  Our pet sitter definitely thinks we should rip the band aid off but I have images of cats scratching dog's eyes out and dogs pouncing on cats.  Next weekend we are going to a friends wedding and will need to stay out of town for one night.  I am determined to at least get Jones with the dogs by then.  I feel like either way I'm about to hire someone to help before things are irreversibly doomed. 

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