In November, a friend of mine, who works with a feral cat rescue in LA (Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats), fostered a litter of kittens that included this charmer and we fell in love (lookit dat face 😍 )
I was initially staunchly against getting a third animal, we already have a 7 year old corgi (Wall-E) and a 2 1/2 year old cat (Sosuke), and the rule in our house has long been only two pets. However, the pandemic had me reassessing priorities. We were all miserable and Sosuke has been harassing Wall-E because he wants to play, and unsurprisingly the dog wants nothing to do with playing with the cat. So I relented and we adopted Ponyo. For any Studio Ghibli fans, yes, we named our cats after characters in Ponyo. For any older anime fans, our first cat was Azalyn, after a character in “The Irresponsible Captain Tylor”, we have an animated character theme for our pets.
Once we made the decision to adopt, I panicked as I have never had to introduce two cats. My friend, who fostered Ponyo (and has five cats herself), highly recommended Jackson Galaxy’s Total Cat Mojo. Not only has it been great information about how to introduce cats but it has been revolutionary in my understanding of cat needs and how I interpret cat behavior. One of Galaxy’s mantras is, Hunt, Catch, Kill, Eat (HCKE). Cats have an instinctual drive to hunt, catch, and kill prey and though we have made them indoor pets, they still very much daily live by HCKE. Not having these needs filled can often be the root cause of problems that may be happening in the home. Sosuke had been “attacking” our youngest and once we started implementing play to get out his HCKE urges, he has stopped going after her.
Something else I learned was that cats have really only become indoor pets as of about 150 years ago. Cats have long had a symbiotic relationship with humans but it wasn’t until Queen Victoria made it fashionable to have cats as indoor pets that our furry felines moved indoors full time. As a result, they still strongly have the behavior of their not at all distant ancestors. They are no where near the domesticity of dogs so it’s kind of impressive that, in a relatively short time, we’ve been able to train them from eliminating anywhere they want in the wild, to going in a litter box with an artificial substrate.
To loop back to my title, we have followed Galaxy’s instructions to a T for introducing cats and pets in general. I’m happy to report that we have made a successful introduction of Ponyo to our household. There is still some negotiations happening between pets. Sosuke desperately wants to pin Ponyo down and clean her but that’s too much of an invasion of Ponyo’s personal space and she doesn’t tolerate it. She alternates between being terrified of Wall-E and will hiss, and spit at him periodically if he is too close, to not caring about him. Wall-E doesn’t want to deal with her and is respectful of her space, unless food is involved. In one week we have gone from her staying in a bathroom to being free roaming of the whole house. I’m considering it a successful transition and I attribute it to following the advice in Total Cat Mojo.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone having to introduce a new cat to an existing household with pets and kids. I would strongly encourage anyone to read it who is interested in learning more about cat behavior.