Thinking your cat might need a companion? This is the story of two rescue cats who came into my house at different times and how they reacted to each other.
Leo is a small black and white….something (American shorthair? Maybe?) who I adopted last July when he was just five weeks old. He has grown into a rambunctious and playful young man so I thought he might like a buddy to pal around with during the day when I’m at work.
To that end I agreed to foster a 3 year old… Also something (Maybe some Maine Coon? He’s huge) I had hoped and expected they would become fast friends. AND I WAS WRONG.
I’ve provided the following day by day account so that anyone considering adding another furry friend to the family will have some idea of what to expect. (I do still recommend it.)
The Funny Stories of Two Kitties: Leo’s reactions to Billy
I don’t know who or what you are and I’m scared and upset. I’m staying away from you!
I’m not afraid of you, I’m ANGRY and I HATE you!
Don’t you dare come close to me, Don’t you dare come into MY room or touch MY humans.
If you’re in my space, I’ll hiss at you to make you go away. Go away!
I’m more curious now than anything but I still don’t like you.
I’ll follow you around stealthily, choosing strategic positions such as on top of tables or behind chairs or people so that I can see you but you can’t see me.
I’ll stay at a comfortable distance where I’m not actively growling because I feel there is enough space between us. Then I’ll creep a little closer. Then I’ll give away my position by growling. I am the best spy cat :))
I’m sort of ok with you being around as long as you aren’t too close to me. I’m still following you, but honestly my heart isn’t in it anymore, I regularly get distracted and start taking a bath, playing with a toy, staring at birds or just lying down and closing my eyes. But still don’t come too close to me! I’ll hiss!
I don’t like it when you come in the basement (MY ROOM! MY HUMANS!) but I’m comfortable leaving you alone if it doesn’t seem like you’re likely to move. I still prefer to have the high ground and I’m watching you eat every time you eat. I’m watching you. I’m watching you. I’m lying down now but I’m watching you. I’m yawning but I’m watching you. You’re really not that interesting. Still watching though
Billy crossed the line this morning by jumping in bed with Leo and I, so all day Leo has been passive aggressively antagonizing him by going deliberately into HIS territory; eating his food, using his litter box, and even going up to the one room we’ve designated as the safe Billy-zone. Silly Billy does not care in the slightest. Billy loves the world and everything in it and Leo just doesn’t phase him. So I don’t know if this is progress or not. My boyfriend’s opinion is that “This is difficult because they’re both not normal cats, Billy is like this super affectionate chill cat raised by dogs and Leo is a tiny angry lion”
Day 8 (evening)
We kept the cats separated all day yesterday and most of today hoping Leo’s temper would cool and his natural curiosity and generally friendly personality would win out. We let Billy out after Leo went to investigate his door and was sniffing the bottom of it without hissing or growling. As soon as we opened the door, Leo tactically retreated back downstairs. I played with Billy on the stairs for a while. Then the following interaction happened (paraphrased)
Billy: I knocked the mouse near you. So you could play with it maybe. If you wanted to.
Leo: I would actually sort of like that. I would like to play with that mouse.
Billy: We are at an impasse.
Billy was playing with the mouse on the stairs. (Both cats have realized they can make a game of dropping a toy down the stairs and racing after it) Leo heard the mouse squeaking and came to investigate. He was watching Billy from around a corner, somewhat hidden but not completely.
Billy at one point knocked the mouse down the stairs and ran after it, but stopped at the second stair, probably thinking “oh no! Leo is right there. I don’t know what’s allowed. Like should I go get it or not? I don’t want to upset you small angry cat” In order to break the tension I tossed the mouse up a few stairs towards him. Billy then seemingly deliberately laid down, to be as non-threatening as possible and gently batted the mouse with one paw so it bounced down the stairs and landed at Leo’s feet.
Leo took a few steps towards the stairs. Billy took a few steps down. They stared at each other. They stared at the mouse. Billy turned around and jumped through the banister (avoiding passing close by Leo) and hopped back onto the desk where he likes to nap and watch birds.
Leo settled down across the room into his Billy-bird-watching-surveillance-position.
They set aside whatever their own issues are to band together to meow stupidly at a ladybug that was on the ceiling. I didn’t take any pictures because I was in the middle of that, trying to save the ladybug, which I utterly failed to do. I expected MAJOR issues when Leo caused me to drop it by biting my hand (slightly bad Leo, but also, I’m pretty used to it and this was clearly THERE IS FOOD IN YOUR HAND AND I WANT IT rather than actual aggression) and Billy, Mr. food-where-is-food? immediately snapped it up, but fortunately ladybugs taste disgusting and he spat it right back out, so Leo was able to eat the mangled remains. Which he did. With great gusto. I guess I’m glad they’re bonding? Rest in pieces ladybug.
Day 10 Important Cat Update
Leo and Billy are napping on the couch on either side of me. They are both incredibly soft and seem ok being close to each other as long as I am between them. This is the first time Leo has come up on the couch since we got Billy. I think they might actually become friends.