Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Two Steps Forward
The relationship between Hedge and Quint continues to evolve, as does the relationship of Hedge to his humans. Hedge is becoming less and less of a scared and timid hidden presence and more and more of a playful, but still wary, little kitten-like creature. All of us have been working on our little family relations, each is his/her own way.
Carol, who usually feeds the cats, is now occasionally able to grab Hedge, sit with him and pet him for awhile in the evenings. As soon as he gets restless, she lets him go, but now, instead of running away and hiding, Hedge will just move off a few feet and attend to some grooming needs, or go and find Quint for some evening playtime. Carol wants a lap cat, to sit with her while she is reading or working at her desk. She also wanted our next cat to be female with a sweet disposition. Both the cats are very good natured, but they're also still very young, and ALL boy, so their lap sitting abilities have yet to be developed. Quint already often sits at Carol's elbow when she works at her desk, so I believe his lap-cat potential exists. At the moment, though, both cats are enjoying the novelty of playing with each other and don't have all that much time for their human companions. Still, I think our new tactic of just letting Hedge be and giving him time to adjust to his new home is beginning to work.
Quint still insists that he is Head Cat, and reminds Hedge of that fact whenever it seems appropriate to him. Hedge, however, frequently informs Quint that though, for the moment, this may be true, a kitten grows quickly and Quint's size and weight advantage may not last forever. Neither of the cats is at all vicious during the domination games they play. I've heard some minor squeaks of protest when things get too rough, but I've never heard them hiss, growl or spit at each other. As I've mentioned, Quint is inherently good-natured without a mean bone in his body, and he still has quite a lot of kitten playfulness left in him, so I think he's rather liking having a playmate of his own species. However, there are times when Quint misses the days when he was an Only Cat. Carol and I miss those days a little bit, too. It was great fun playing with Quint in the evenings and having him all to ourselves. Sharing him with Hedge means we've lost our evening playtime with Quint, since he'd rather play with a very much alive kitten than with toy mouse. I can see his point. So, we have to get our Quint time in other ways, petting and brushing and watching him play.
I've been working on teaching Hedge to play with his humans and not just with Quint. To that end, I've been seeking the perfect cat toy which will prove irresistible to a kitten, and I believe I have finally found it. It works, not just with Hedge, but also with Quint. It was simple when I finally figured it out. The solution was in a corner of the kitchen "junk" drawer all along. Have you guessed it yet? A six foot length of string has proven to be just the thing I was looking for. What cat, young or old, can resist a bit of string being dragged along the floor? I started the string training two evenings ago and we've all had fun with it. Hedge will chase it for a few feet and then Quint takes over, pounces on it and kills it, over and over again, while Hedge watches. I've also been dangling the string over their heads so that can bat at it. Quint shows Hedge how it's done. Since yesterday, when I enter a room where Hedge is playing or sleeping, instead of running away, he looks at me as if to say, "Are we gonna play now?" I'd call that progress.
We're growing, the four of us, in ways none of us could have imagined. We're getting closer, physically and emotionally, and we're learning from each other. We're laughing together, and playing together. We just have to remember that if we listen to each other and allow each other to be who we already are, we will continue to find ways to enjoy each other's company and bask in the love we have to give each other.