Friday, April 26, 2013

Maybe It's Not Just the Pets Who Are Codependent...

This morning I awoke at 6:30 a.m. to find the bed quite crowded.  Fortunately for me, the crowdedness was all on the Cowboy's side of the bed.  Puckett (all twenty pounds of bulk) was spread out on his chest and it was actually her extremely loud purring that woke me up.  Willow was curled between the Cowboy's legs and Percy was at the end of the bed.  This was actually rather unusual.  Sometimes we will wake up to Willow on the bed.  Percy usually only joins us after we wake up, launching himself gracefully with finesse onto the bed and trilling his trademark rolling meow.  Puckett is almost never on the bed with us.  She will wait until everyone has cleared off the bed and then stake it out for herself.  I'm sure even Tess would have joined us if she'd been allowed, but alas, poor Tess remained on the floor as she is too big to share a full sized bed with two humans and three cats.

As soon as I woke up and saw Puckett, I tapped my chest and invited her over to my side of the bed and she immediately slid over to me and snuggled in, purring up a storm and rubbing her nose against my hand which is how she demands attention.  The other two cats remained put, but everyone was purring at this point.  Of course I had to gloat that Puckett still chose me when given the option.  This was to get back at the Cowboy for trying to manipulate her to the dark side the other day when he had a pet and cuddle session with her on the stairs before he left for work.

The tranquility didn't last long as Tess needed to go out so the Cowboy got up to let her out and feed the cats.  All three cats jumped from the bed and barreled downstairs for their breakfast.  I wasn't quite ready to get up yet, and several minutes later when I rolled over and peered at the side of the bed there was a pair of ears and two eyeballs staring at me from the floor.  I patted the bed and Puckett jumped up to resume our snuggling.  When I finally got up to take a shower she remained on the bed and waited for me to come back.  She stayed on the bed even as I tried to make it and then followed me from the bedroom back to the bathroom (where she rubbed against the corner of the doorway and watched me) and finally to the kitchen.

Sorry, Cowboy, I guess I'm still winning this war for Puckett's heart.  While it is true that the other two cats had breakfast with the Cowboy and then watched some morning TV with him in the TV room, my girl still remains loyal and faithful to me.  That's a good feeling.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mama's Girl

I have put my foot down with the Cowboy and insisted that Puckett remain "my" baby as opposed to the other three animals who act like complete idiots whenever he is around.  Puckett is "my" girl, "my" cat, "my" princess, and I told the Cowboy that he is not permitted in any way, shape, or form to spoil her or cajole her into favoring him over me as he has managed to do with the rest of my pets.

Don't get me wrong.  My pets still think I'm God when it's just the five of us and, of course, I still feed them and pick up their poop.  But Puckett is the only one of the four who has remained steadfastly "my" girl and while she is civil and accepting of the Cowboy, she still prefers me over him.

I cannot say the same for the overindulged, spoiled, infidelitous creatures that are my other two cats and my German shepherd, Tess.  The ungrateful little parasites.  For the last five years I have poured my heart and soul into caring for these clingy and needy pets and the minute some good looking hunk enters our lives they leave me in the trail dust of their stampeding paws, each bowling the others over in their rush to get to him.  I have always abhorred people who dump their pets and/or friends the minute they find themselves in a relationship (always stating that my pets have been with me longer than any man), but what does one do when one's loyal, darling pets dump her for the new boyfriend?  Tess has gone so far as to try shouldering me aside in her rush to race up the stairs in pursuit of the Cowboy.  To reinforce my unpopularity I had to discipline her for that little move. In the past she wouldn't have dreamed of pulling a stunt like that.  Percy has given me up as hopeless and now will sit in the kitchen, gazing at the Cowboy with great big green mushy eyes, purring and meowing invitations to play (which, of the course, the Cowboy enthusiastically indulges).  I'm good enough to bother in the bathroom for a brief few minutes, but then it is back to being glued to the Cowboy's side.  Willow will find any excuse to jump into the Cowboy's lap and settle herself smugly and comfortably, rumbling away as though she hasn't a care in the world.  Me she just looks at with scorn (probably because she still hasn't forgiven me for keeping her locked up at night to prevent her from peeing next to the litter box rather than in it).

It is official.  I am "mean mommy" and the Cowboy is the "fun one."  

Puckett, however, still loves me.  She has been aloof since the Cowboy has joined our lives, friendly and civil, but keeping herself distant.  She enjoys sleeping on his jacket when he leaves it at the door and she has staked out a box of Christmas ornaments he left at my house as her favorite bed.  Here is where she has spent most of her time until recently.  She will play with a dignified air at times when the other two cats are making complete asses of themselves, haughtily batting at a ball or pawing at the plastic wand toy dangled enticingly in her face, but she is never too excitable.  She is one of those cats who does not want you to think that she is enjoying herself too much just to please you.  When the Cowboy pulls out the laser - that infernal red dot that seems to drive all cats crazy - Percy and Willow will go bananas chasing the dot all over the floor and even up the wall to the point where they will chase their tails in circles in an effort to catch it.  Puckett stares at it with interest but would never deign to lower herself in such a manner as to chase something so silly, as if she knows it cannot be caught and she refuses to demean herself in such a way.  She plays, but she does not go overboard in "bonding time" with the Cowboy.  If he is lucky she will give his leg a brief rub on her way to the food bowl.

Last night she was sitting on the arm of the couch next to the Cowboy while we watched TV.  She has not sat on the couch in months, has not graced us with her presence in the TV room in months as the other animals have, sacked out snoring or playing with the various toys.  Last night however she wanted some "Puckett Time" with her humans.  The Cowboy encouraged her to come sit on his lap and I gave him a look and told him "Oh, no you don't.  That is MY Puckett and you are not going to turn her over to the Dark Side!"

I needn't have worried.  She accepted his invitation to ease her twenty pound bulk into his lap only to slide on over to me and settle herself on me instead.  After that nothing would move her from lap without claws clamping down to keep her stationed.  She allowed the Cowboy to scratch behind her ears, but it was my lap she wanted to snuggle on.

This morning she once again joined me on the couch and shared some breakfast and Spongebob Squarepants before I went to work, lounging gracefully on the seat beside me, gazing up at me with her large, unblinking, adoring eyes as if to say "Don't worry, Mom.  I'm still all yours."

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Drama Queen

My "youngest" child, Willow, is, what I like to call, special needs.  I honestly have no idea what goes through her head sometimes.  She is ridiculously adorable (once again, I fell for the big wide eyes and smushed wet nose) and tiny, and she gives one the feeling of wanting to protect her.  She has that damsel in distress thing down.  Willow has lived with me for a year now and still is not used to the dog.  My personal opinion is that she IS used to the dog.  She just wants everyone to think she isn't.  I have three animals who live in harmony together.  Percy and Puckett have figured out kitty hierarchy (Puckett is the queen).  Percy and Tess are the best of friends and love to wrestle and play.  Puckett and Tess have some kind of weird interspecies love affair going on as Puckett will spend an hour every evening rubbing on Tess and purring while Tess licks her ears.  Sometimes they dance together in the kitchen.  Puckett sort of "herds" Tess around the kitchen purring and Tess will allow herself to be "herded."

I have not yet figured out where Willow fits in.  Everyone tolerates her about fifty percent of the time and I can't help but notice that her black sheep status is partially her own fault.  The rest of the fault lies with Percy because he is a bully and picks on her, but Willow makes no effort to try and make friends with anyone unless it is on her terms.  As lowest on the totem pole, she really doesn't have this luxury.  Tess has tried over and over to befriend the little spitfire only to be shot down.  In the beginning she would try to sniff and lick Willow the way she does Puckett and received a slap across the nose for her efforts.  If Willow is lounging on the bed with me, Tess can't even approach the side of the bed to get her ears scratched without Miss Thang rumbling in her throat and swatting out with her paw.  Tess will be minding her own business completely and the next thing she knows she has six pounds of furious kitty launching herself at her.  Tess had finally had enough one night and chased Willow upstairs terrifying the poor cat to the point of peeing on the floor.  I really couldn't blame Tess.  She has never once given any indication of wanting to hurt Willow and she has tried many times to be friends.  Puckett treats Willow with the same haughty, "I'm better than you" attitude with which she treats the rest of us.  In the morning if the two happen to meet en route to the food bowls, they will sniff each other all over and then Puckett will "wave" her away with a swish of her tail and a flick of the ears.  Willow jumps sideways and darts away like she's been electrocuted.  Puckett has never hurt her, has never bullied her, and has never picked on her and Willow still acts as though Puckett is about to jump down her throat every time they meet. 

Percy is probably the main culprit in Willow's attitude, though in the beginning the two were friends.  Percy was enraptured with Willow when i first brought her home and followed her everywhere, trying to engage her.  She rebuffed his advances over and over and as soon as he wandered away and left her alone she jumped after him, ears up, whiskers twitching, and would tap him lightly with a paw, trying to regain his attention.  "Wait! I didn't REALLY want you to leave me alone!  My leave me alone antics don't actually mean 'leave me alone!'"  As any male trying to figure out a contrary female, poor Percy was confused beyond belief.  Eventually he started picking on her every time she attempted to use the litter box which led to litter box aversion and finally led to a crate for Willow.  The crate is Willow's hidey hole and safe haven and has fixed the litter box aversion to the point where she can be out of the cage all day without peeing on the floor.  She still spends nights in the cage.  Percy no longer bullies her but she has taken to teasing him when she is out of her cage.  Once again she pulls her trick of getting annoyed when he tries to play with her or engage her and then racing after him when he ignores her.  Sometimes she'll fly through the house at top speed and Percy can't help but chase her.  Tess tries really hard to keep from chasing her as well, but as a dog, she sometimes can't help it.  If Willow acted less like a prey animal she would be treated less like a prey animal.  She engages in this behavior constantly and then wails and cries and throws a serious hissy fit when the other animals react.

Through all this Puckett sits in her spot and watches everyone balefully with a look of total disgust and annoyance.

Three days ago I had to take Percy and Puckett to the vet.  I put Tess outside, drove my cats to the vet, and came home to let Willow out of her cage.  She jumped out of the cage and went on the usual rounds.  First the bedroom, then down to the kitchen to check the food bowl situation, and finally downstairs where the scratching post and kitty tower are located.  Then she was back upstairs again, looking lost, poking here and there.  It finally dawned on me that she was looking for the other two.  She was finally in a house all by herself with no other animals which is a situation I thought might be more beneficial for her and she was completely out of her element.  She had no idea what had become of her companions and she continued to look for them until I left for work.  Later that day when I brought home Percy and Puckett Willow went back to jumping sideways when they wandered near her, hissing at the dog, and streaking through the house at warp speed, trying to entice everyone to chase her. 

Clearly, everything was back as it should be.