Saturday, October 25, 2003

News from the cat wars

Domestic cats are supposed to organize themselves into a pecking (clawing?) order, with one cat serving as the alpha. Our cats are confused; three of them think they are in charge. The fourth one, Socks, doesn't have any idea what's going on and the other three don't seem to think he's even a cat.

Sheba, the deaf white cat, is a narcisistic little tornado. She thinks she owns the house, and tries to shoo all the other cats off her territory by hissing. Interestingly, she realizes that she doesn't own the yard, and treats her indoor rivals with deference when she's outside.

Smokey, the Russian black, doesn't fight because the Russian blues (and blacks) just don't fight--even when attacked. But he's awfully good at annoying Sheba and Betaille. He likes to get into Sheba's cat bed and watch her glare at him. He delights in running up and leaping high in the air over both Sheba and Betaille. But if he's in a room with me, getting petted, and Betaille marches in, he slinks out immediately and defers to her.

Betaille, the 14-year-old Himalayan Abyssinian, views Sheba with alarm, and clearly thinks Smokey is nuts. Betaille is probably too old to clobber Sheba—but she has taken a few swats at her.

While the three would-be alphas maneuver around each other, Socks, the tabby ragdoll, pads blithely about. He goes wherever he wants, frolics with Smokey, follows Betaille around outdoors, and even sleeps on the bed with Sheba, who lets him kiss her nose and never hisses at him. Perhaps he's on to something.

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