New Cat: Changing Dynamics

RJ enjoys his Christmas mouse.

Will getting a new cat change the other cats' personality? No, but it will change the dynamics of the house. It can bring out new aspects of the other cats' existing personality; for good or ill.

We got RJ and Mr. Bond some new mice for Christmas. These have metallic looking skins, and, for us, soft bodies that don't mind being stepped on. Because they will be stepped on.

RJ and Mr. Bond, both Betas, love their mice. I've thrown away five skinned, de-eared, and otherwise thoroughly conquered mice in the last few weeks. Mr. Bond approves of RJ's interests, and doesn't mind sharing the supply. He's been playing with RJ, which consists mostly of not minding being the Tokoyo to RJ's Godzilla.

When it comes to adding a kitten to the household, Not Minding is a tremendous asset.

The older and less active the cat, the more they will find a new kitten to be a trying experience. When I first went looking for a new kitten, I was looking for a Gamma. With a ten year old Beta, and an older Gamma, bringing in a Beta kitten was a bit of a gamble. What tipped the balance was RJ being a deprived kitten who would take some time to get comfortable in the house, and thus be more deferential during that time. By the time RJ had become the maniac he periodically is, the other cats had become adjusted to having more mayhem around.

I was confident Mr. Bond would find RJ both interesting and something he could handle. Puffy has been the surprise. Our goal was to make sure RJ would simply leave him alone. But Puffy has gone beyond that. He now has been seen on the bed with the other two cats, the twice-a-day canned feeding schedule brings him out of his lair consistently, and he doesn't blink when RJ zooms by.

Puffy is actually more visible than he was before we got the kitten. We make a big fuss over him when we see him, we make sure RJ is not too obnoxious in his attentions, and we keep his routines much as they were before the new addition joined us.

By making sure Puffy keeps his stability, we've given him a platform that allows him to happily continue being the Puffy we know and love; and the opportunity to be even more.

Policing the situation has been the key element in creating cat harmony. We have not "left it up to the cats." If we had, Puffy would be cowering in a corner, RJ would not have learned he must moderate his play overtures, and Mr. Bond would have felt alone in his attempts to discipline the antics that were wreaking havoc in the house.

RJ can't help having a short attention span and an overwhelming interest in playing with any animate or inanimate object which crosses his random path. He's a kitten. But he can learn respect and timing, which lets everyone have their quiet spaces, and enjoy the lively energy he brings.

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