Insanity:  Introducing a THIRD cat !!


Photo courtesy Hunters Glen

Hunters Glen Ptarmigan:

Born: 10/17/97
American Curl
White/Brown Tabby/Longhair

Maybe it is a mid life crisis. Maybe I don't have enough excitement in my life. Maybe I think "Just One More" applies to something other than potato chips. Maybe I just need a third cat to worship.

There are folks out in Minnesota who are dissolving their cattery of American Curls. A friend tells me about this, and has met some of the cats. Ptarmigan, they tell me, is a Cool Cat. A submissive loving male. For some reason -- maybe one of the above, or perhaps pure nuttiness -- I say yes. The only charge to take "possession" of Ptarmigan is the $30 for the cat carrier that is to be used to transport him. He and Jebu can play together, take some stress off of Titania who would rather be left alone except for warmth or feline grooming activities. On her terms. Scaredy-cat though he is, Jebu is still kitten at heart, totally lacking in dignity.

Ptarmigan is a year old. Titania is, as of this writing, 7.5 years, and Jebu, 4.5.

I say yes. (See Paragraph One.)

I drive to the airport and take possession of a cat who says absolutely nothing to me on the hour drive back to my house. I can tell he's got these really strange ears. At home, I decant the cat, who is understandibly perturbed by all the travel stress. His ears are folded in a hard cartilagenous American Curl style, and he is simply gorgeous.

We don't hit it off until I discover that he adores grooming. After Titania, I'd given up hope that any long haired cat would barely tolerate grooming -- Ptarmigan just adores it. I understand he even likes brussels sprouts, baths, and perhaps even nail clipping!!! (Actually, Jebu doesn't mind nail clipping -- I got him young enough to train into it.)

It took a couple days for Ptarmigan to de-stress, but he gradually turned into the advertized, loving cat, and began to take to his food and water with gusto. Meanwhile, I introduced him to Titania, who treated him exactly as she'd treated Jebu years ago -- disdain, marking her own personal space, and resenting any time I'd try to share affection with both of them simultaneously. (She grew out of that with the kitten Jebu, and one day I came home to see her grooming him -- she jumped up guiltily when she saw that that I now realized that the two of them had finally reached accomodations, and she fled in embarrassment...) The same storyline looks like it will repeat with her and Ptarmigan...

Jebu, however, has been another picture.

It took him seven hours to notice Ptarmigan's presence (tucked away as he was). At which point he fluffed out to five times his size. He's been upset ever since -- not jealousy, but fear. Ptarmigan has been submissive if not oblivious to the fact that he's being hissed at.

Adaptation can be slow, and certainly requires the cultivation of patience on the side of the person introducing the cats. And lots of extra cooked chicken parts.

It is now eight days since I brought Ptarmigan home. I'm still looking forward to mainstreaming him, but it will take time. He's a cat used to people and other cats; I'm sure this lack of feline acceptance is wearying for him, especially since the human contingent around here spends far too much time at work earning kibbles and kitty litter to be giving him as many hugs and scritches as he requests.

It is now January. Titania's personal space requirements have shrunk. Jebu is much better behaved, although he still growls and hisses -- must be one of those male insecurity things... (only joking), and they a are still nowhere close to friendly. But I no longer have to watch them. I do put Ptarmigan away in his room at night (so I can sleep, and so that the cats who are used to sleeping with me can continue to do so), and if I'm going to be gone from home for any number of hours (just in case...).

At any rate, the main requirement for cat introductions: PATIENCE.

June 1999 update: It took a vacation in March (rf Virginia), when the three cats were placed in enforced close quarters -- an entire basement together -- for them to truly adapt to each other. Well, as truly as they have. (Don't worry, someone was here frequently to feed and talk to them...) Titania had grown used to him by then, but Jebu took the longest. After I came back, however, while Jebu and Ptarmigan aren't exactly buddy-buddy, the former no longer has moments of terror at the thought of him.

So, it does take patience, and the willingness after a certain stage of accomodations, to let them all work it out together. Now if I could only break Jebu of the habit of chewing mini-blind cords and Ptarmigan of the habit of jumping up ontop of high shelves and the like filled with breakables... and while we're at it, he's even more likely than any other cat I've ever met to wrap himself around my feet as I head down the stairs with a load of laundry...

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Last Updated: 6/27/99

Background cat graphic adapted from a photo of Jebu, and available for your use