The Light in My Heart   Leave a comment

Mia June 2013 by Lady Birchwood
Mia June 2013, a photo by Lady Birchwood on Flickr.

This girl came into my life four weeks after my beloved Katie died in 2011, and she brought a joy to my heart that I didn’t know was possible in the midst of my grief. When she would cuddle with me and purr, putting her soft paws against my face, my heart soared with a gratefulness that I had been blessed with such a wonderful gift. She’s my princess.

I feel like I’m making a mess out of this cat since the little pirate, Jack, arrived in July a week after Bubba died. She’s afraid of him and wants nothing to do with him. In the five months that he’s been here, that hasn’t changed. If he’d leave her alone, they possibly could arrive at a truce to just live in their own territories, but he takes such affront to her hissing and growling at him that he attacks. Right now, they cannot be in the same space together without a fur-flying, angry mass of seething, roiling cats resulting. I won’t have that. End of story on the subject of “cats duking it out.”  It’s been almost three months now since such an occurrence happened when Jack escaped through an improperly latched basement door, and he and Mia went at it.  I don’t ever want that happening again, although the odds are that it will if we continue to live like this.

Since late July, these two cats have been separated at all times after sharing the space resulted in fur-flying fight after fight after fight. The daily routine has evolved into Jack being in our spacious bedroom and bath during the day with the door closed and Mia being in that space in the evenings and at night. When I’m home alone (about a week a month), I sleep in our room with Mia. When my husband is home, I alternate between the guest bedroom with Jack and Ralphie and our bedroom with husband and Mia. During warmer weather, the basement was also used as a place of separation, but it’s too cool now to confine a cat there for long.

Both Mia and Jack are on Prozac to help calm the aggression. It certainly has made a difference in Mia. She’s no longer Psycho Suzie and can go about her business around the house as long as she doesn’t have to see Jack. Her appetite is poor, though, I think as a side-effect of the Prozac. She doesn’t groom herself much, and she doesn’t have much interest in anything other than going outside. I worry about her and the effect that the medication and the environment is having on her health.  I hate the thought of her health declining because of the newcomer we brought into her life and how we’re trying to deal with it.

Jack is getting a transdermal application of Prozac every evening because he does not tolerate the oral approach. It may be helping him calm down some, but he still wants to go for Mia if she hisses at him, and if anyone is near him at one of these moments, he will bite. Mia hissed at him through the crack in the bedroom door this morning, and he turned and attacked my foot, biting and clawing. Fortunately, I don’t pad around in my bare feet anymore because of my plantar fasciitis, although my bare ankle did catch a claw!

There are times when I think that time and love will smoothe this out, at least to the point where we can live in our home with Jack and Mia being permitted free access to where they want to be.  (I am not optimistic that they will ever be friends.)  There are other times when I think that this is a fool’s game and someone needs to live elsewhere. It would break my heart in a million pieces to give up Mia to another home, and I think that Dale feels the same way about Jack. I think we’ve come close to fighting about it and that distresses me.  I can barely stand the thought of the battering my heart would take, though, if it was Mia who went to live elsewhere.  My grief and resentment would shoot down any further bonding with Jack if that were to happen.  I’m only human, I’m afraid, and my heart knows what it needs.

I’ve been reading Jackson Galaxy’s book, My Cat from Hell, and there have been moments during the book where I have had absolute faith that there is a solution to our cats’ relationship difficulties. Then I read the chapter yesterday over lunch about the cats who just are not meant to live together. He said that you can try everything in the book, but these cats just don’t want to be together. The only solution for a peaceful household is to permanently site-swap: rotate the cats in and out of spaces in the house so that they live “separate but equal.” There are people who have done this for years, and my cat-whisperer guru says that he doesn’t have a problem with this. The only problem he has with it is when humans are trying to make a living arrangement happen that just really isn’t meant to happen. He advises that you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it.  Are you trying to control the workings of the Universe?  That is always folly of hubris, and he points that out.

I could see it if there were absolutely no other alternatives to placement, such as the cat had special needs and was really not suitable for anyone else’s home, either. I would never give up either Mia or Jack to a humane society or a rescue group where the outcome is unknown. I would consider re-homing Jack or Mia with a close friend or family member whose care for this beloved cat could be assured. That is not a poor outcome if months of trying to get incompatible cats to live together doesn’t work.

I’ve had so many thoughts and emotions. There are so many things we haven’t tried yet. More time. More attention. More play and exercise. More “safe” spaces. A professional “cat whisperer”/trainer to work with us.

I hope for the wisdom to know when we’re doing a good thing by persevering and when we’re letting our pride and fear of failure keep on with a situation that needs a different solution. The well-being of Jack and Mia depends on me recognizing the difference.  My own well-being may depend on it.


Posted December 14, 2013 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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