September 16, 2002
There are some changes going on with the cat’s “hierarchy”. This is to be expected as the males are all around two years-old, the age when cats reach social maturity. Jolie has a urinary tract infection (UTI), so she could be getting stressed from the changes, which then led to the UTI. I even get stressed and nervous sometimes with the goings on between the cats.
Simon was the last of the other cats to come in, before we rescued Jolie, and he promptly took over- a cocky almost adult intact male. Except that Snookums, getting close to two years-old when Simon came in from the streets, would not be dominated. She hissed at him nonstop if he came close, so finally, after a few weeks of being hissed at repeatedly, Simon attacked her to the point she really, really got stressed and we had to rehome her. He would try to attack her whenever he got the chance. Her screams and snarls scared me! We had them in different areas of the house, but Simon sometimes managed to get to her and attack her.
Simon had never attacked any of the other cats, but used strong body language to get his message across, and sat on them and holding them down by the neck. They didn’t resist or hiss at him, so he was fine with them. When Jolie came, she was meek and totally deferred to Simon, so he came to like her. She was the only one who would play wrestle with him, and he was ever so gentle with her.
Now, for about the past two months, Sumner has been making these challenging moves towards Simon, by frequently swatting at Simon when Simon walks by. Simon mostly ignores it and keeps walking, almost acting subservient to Sumner, trying to not have a problem. But sometimes he stops and stare, with the irritated ear position. There was the day of “Sumner’s eye”, when Sumner just would not leave him alone and Simon finally chased after him.
Sumner had been following Simon around, sniffing his butt very closely, which was really getting on Simon’s nerves. Simon kept walking on, trying to get away from Sumner, but Sumner just kept sniffing and following, sniffing and following. Simon was running out of places to walk to, and finally sat down and gave Sumner the irritated warning look. Sumner did not respect it, or perhaps does not “speak” that cat dialect so didn’t understand. (Sumner was raised in my house and Simon is from the streets, so Simon picked up some signals Sumner must not have been taught by his mother. I know she never did that irritated ear flip thing.) Next thing I saw was Simon chasing Sumner into the bedroom. Then there was an upset cat snarl-cry and I saw Simon sitting next to the bed, and Sumner was under it (the bed is low and Simon can’t fit too comfortably under it, being larger and “fuller” than spry, skinny Sumner).
A few minutes later, Sumner was in the living room with one eye a red orb! He was just sitting calmly, with one eye a blob of red. I got all freaked out and imagined Simon poked Sumner’s eye out, (which would likely not be possible). I made my husband take the close up look, just in case it was something ugly, but Sumner’s eye was ok. We did take him to the emergency vet (since of course, this happened at night). It was just a scratch on the skin next to his eye, with the blood having trailed on his eyeball. His eye actually looked fine even before we loaded him up to go to the ER, but we wanted to make sure his cornea hadn’t gotten scratched. It hadn’t. But Sumner had to have some eye ointment.
Did Sumner learn? NO! Another time he was giving Simon the “evil eye” and Simon was trying to just walk on by. I thought it would help if I distracted them some, to avoid a repeat of the above, so I just walked near Sumner and started chatting with them in a friendly voice. Sumner ignored me, but Simon, who was a few feet away, sat down and looked attentively at me, politely listening to me, being a good boy. It really seemed like he was actually paying attention to what I was saying (I think Simon truly has “above average” intelligence as far as cats go).
Sumner then rushed at Simon. I suppose he thought Simon would run away, but Simon stayed in place, just putting up a paw to keep Sumner from crashing into him. Sumner ran his face right into Simon’s paw. From one cat to another, that would hurt. Another trip to the ER (night again, of course). This time no blood, but Sumner was keeping his eye closed so we wanted to check it out again to make sure his cornea didn’t get scratched. Nothing at all was scratched this time. It just must have hurt Sumner ramming his eye into a paw, like a person running their face into another person’s fist. My mistake was to not be facing both of them, or being in between both of them, and I was focusing too much on Simon, worrying that he might do something. I didn’t realize Sumner was rushing Simon until it was too late. Sometimes intervening can mess things up, particularly if you do it wrong or misidentify the “bad guy”.
I think we have been blaming Simon more than is fair. He really seems like he tries to avoid fights with Sumner. He does tend to stop when we call to him, as long as he isn’t too riled up. The problem is that none of the other cats heed us! And Simon is not going just sit there and be messed with. Simon can fight viciously, drawing blood, but the others are house raised innocents. So we try to keep Simon calm and happy.