One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (or vice versa)

Cindy lets me pet her fairly easily now! It’s amazing! At the same time, Wave is trying to dominate her and rushed to attack her once per day for the last two days.

I’ve been playing every night with Cindy, and the attempts to pet during play are paying off. Her muscle memory seems to expect it now. She doesn’t like it when she sees my hand–she will give it the “hairy eyeball”–a big rolled eye watching it because she is SO SUSPICIOUS. Yet, the hand that pets, she almost invites. She trots by me and sometimes even if she’s chasing a toy, she stops, hesitates in front of me. It’s so cute. When I do reach out softly and sneak my hand up to pet her back, she arches her back and she lets me follow through by surrounding her tail with my hand and petting till the end. If I put my hand too close to her neck, she twists her neck, flipping her head back and forth. I guess my fingers feel weird on her shoulders? I can pet her repeatedly.

Other times during our play-pet sessions, I do one or two back pets then move my fingers up to her cheek and scritch the extra-thick cheek fur and the side of her neck. She loves this and she leans into it so much that if I’m not careful she will plop down on the ground, my hand will shift, she will notice it’s a hand, and flip back up onto all four feet ungracefully and bolt. She only bolts a little distance now, but nonetheless I don’t want this to happen. I can also massage the scruff of her neck and this makes her purr.

My ambitious goal is to be able to pick her up and to have her comfortable with other people. It may be ambitious for her, but this is simply the way that cats that relate well to humans are, so it is necessary, I think. I have two cats at home I took to socialize and never socialized completely. Those are the besties–and the bullies–Iris and Wave. Right now I’m frustrated with both of them. It’s been illustrated to me how full socialization is so important.

I had not seen Wave attack Cindy for days. I was relieved. I could stop posting about this terrible thing on the blog and I could safely keep Cindy until she was comfortable with people. No such luck, it turns out. The night before last, Cindy was out in the kitchen, staring at something: maybe the strap hanging off of my backpack? She was mesmerized by whatever it was and clearly thinking whether to attack or run. It is this kind of intense instinctual behavior that sets Wave off. It also sets him off when she is playing like a nut. I noticed Wave was staring hard in her direction–the precursor of an attack. I tried waving a toy back and forth in front of his face to break his line of vision. No luck. Then I acted as if I didn’t care about either of them and was just going to do my thing. This seemed to work. Wave’s eyes did not seem so bright or focused.

I was wrong. I heard a quick thump and a few scuffling sounds, but I knew what it was. They hadn’t even gotten to their screeching yet. I hustled around the table and there again was that tableau with Wave basically surrounding Cindy and holding on to her, with an added twist–he was biting her neck. This is a dominance behavior. Ouch!!! Only then, a couple screeches started to come from one or the other of them. Always good for the neighbors.

I yelled, “Hey, hey! No! No!” and poked Wave with my foot. I’m sure the whole building heard that too. He ran off. He is a neutered male but I always wonder if the vet missed something because of Wave’s behavior. Not only does he keep wanting to dominate this tiny female, but he has been meowing at night all week. Big, long meows.

Last night I didn’t expect the attack at all. But again, we were all in the kitchen. Again, I heard a few scuffling sounds I did not like, and with my suspicions I looked around the table immediately. The two were right in front of her carrier with him not embedding hisclaws in her too hard, only holding on to her shoulders with his front claws, but very definitely biting her neck. I could see the skin pulled up. “NO!” I yelled–and Wave stopped and ran away! Can you believe it? He knows the word No! now.

It’s great that he knows the word No and listened to me, but I need him to KNOW not to start. Wave seems full of angst these days. The cherry on top is that after a night of meows, Iris, his best friend, imitated him and started meowing this morning.

One step forward, two steps back. Or is the progress with Cindy two steps forward?

These pictures were taken when I came home work one day. She was out and having a relaxed moment on a chair, just enjoying the sun like any other cat–almost as if you could walk right up to her and pet her!


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