Mittens and Belle learned this truth during the three months my son Nathanial’s cats lived with us: Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife (Proverbs 17:1). Temporary guests upset cats, who by nature don’t appreciate change.
When Knight and Luna arrived at our house in April, my daughters christened them cobra cats because they hissed in such alarming ways that everyone feared for her own safety. A few weeks later, Knight and Luna lounged in the living room like they owned the place.
Someone else’s toys are always better
Bandit adored their cat tree and fancy electric water bowl that circulated the water and made tiny fountains to drink from. Mittens enjoyed the tree also, but her view of herself as queen cat didn’t set well with Luna. The two sparred, but we thought everyone had settled into a comfortable routine and happiness reigned.
Luna and Knight came to us at the mention of their names. They loved our cats’ laser dot toy. Surely, they had worked things out.
Initial concerns fulfilled later
My worries over the five cats seemed silly. In the beginning, I feared problems, especially litter box problems. All seemed well except for a few growls and spats. Belle decided to spend most of her time in my bedroom to avoid the guests. Laid back Bandit resumed life as usual. Mittens, however, resisted relinquishing what she saw as hers.
By mid-July, however, the skirmishes escalated, sending Mittens into hiding. With wounded pride, she took to resting on the screened-in-porch in the humid heat rather than set paw into the AC where Luna and Knight waited to ambush her.
Starting in June, somebody failed to use the litter box. The culprit did both duties on the laundry room counter. Getting perturbed by this development, I enlisted the help of another son, Tyler, to set up his hunting camera in the laundry room. It took a while. The pictures of the cats peeking over the counter to search for missed cat food made us laugh and say, “Aw,” but our mission to determine who wasn’t using the litter box faltered. Then the answer came one Sunday morning: Mittens. We placed a litter box in the laundry room figuring the harassment extended to the litter box.
Bandit and Belle spent most of their days sleeping. Mittens alone challenged the newcomers.
New proverb for Mittens
We tried to encourage Mittens that Luna and Knight were temporary guests, but how do you know if a cat understands? We’ll see how things go now that Luna and Knight have returned to their new house with Nathanial. Our house isn’t quite back to normal because the litter box can’t be removed from the laundry room without incident. I hope to eliminate this bothersome development soon. I suppose the purchase of a cat tree might also be necessary now that Luna and Knight took theirs with. Belle and Bandit continue to snooze on. They don’t care about status. They just want the cuddles and plenty of food. But how long will it take for Mittens to return to her former ways?
Rather than learning the lesson of getting along with others, Mittens chose avoidance. I, for one, won’t miss the terror induced by a cat fight in the middle of the night.
Because of this incident, I’ve thought of a new proverb: better a corner of the bed with peace and quiet than a house full of fancy cat trees with strife—Mittens Welsh.
Have you ever taken in other people’s pets for a while? What challenges occurred in your situation?