Earl the McNab

Earl the McNab
Earl the Mcnab

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Household Harmony: McNabs, Cats and Papillon

Molly McNab at Six Months
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller
It has been nearly a week since Mattie-Kate the Papillon joined us.  That week has required constant vigilance -- not just for signs of imminent bodily functions, but for Mattie's protection from the hazards that constantly face little quarter-pound fluff balls.  Here, those hazards include being tumbled over by an exuberant McNab puppy (Molly) or being eviscerated by a very sensitive ginger cat (Froggy).  For days, Froggy growled, bared her teeth and hissed at Mattie-Kate, letting out that plaintive low "yowww" in warning.  When I crated Mattie-Kate and prepared to leave the house for the first time without her this week, Froggy did little to reassure me by perching atop the crate, peering over the side, and growling at the puppy.

Froggy Isabella the Ginger Cat
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller

Something clicked yesterday, though. Froggy joined me in the bathroom -- yes, the bathroom -- and emended the usual both-hands-required petting she likes.  Suddenly, and surprisingly, she stretched herself up towards my face and reached out to gently pat my cheek with one paw.  Three times she did this.  Now, I know humans are humans and cats are cats -- but her message was clear:  Froggy was reassuring me that she was trying to be a good cat.

I'll understand if you think I'm crazy for anthropomorphizing this way.  Still, Froggy's behavior has been markedly different since then.  She has abruptly quit hissing at the puppy. She has stopped the "stalking" behavior she demonstrated for five full days. Mattie-Kate has bumped into Froggy accidentally in the hallway -- literally bumped into her, muzzle broadside into Froggy -- and Froggy walked away without swatting her or acting overly miffed.  Mattie has approached Froggy several times and Froggy has not hissed.  This morning, Mattie had the audacity to chase both Froggy and Willie -- and they both ran, good-naturedly.  At the moment, Froggy lies beside me on a chair, dreaming happy cat dreams, whiskers and paws twitching - and Mattie lies beneath my chair, dreaming her own dreams.

Earl the McNab has lightened up, as well.  He pouted, nearly despondent, the first few days after Mattie arrived. Now, he is grinning his happy grin again.  Yesterday, I trusted him with guarding the puppy on the front patio as I fed the chickens.  He lay a few feet from her, watching her, quite serious. Mattie was in good paws.

As for Molly the McNab, she continues to adore that puppy. Mattie quickly became Molly's sidekick.  They wrestle several times throughout the day.  They share the same dinner bowl, despite my efforts to separate them. Molly goes with me when I take Mattie out to relieve herself throughout the night.  Mattie climbs all over Molly, growling that priceless, fierce puppy growl, and Molly turns to look at me, grinning exuberantly, proud of "her" puppy.

As for Shotgun Willie, our laid-back Big Mr. Sexy of a grey tabby?  Mattie chases him, gnawing on his legs, and he minds not at all.  His life is probably easier thanks to her presence:  Molly wrestles with Mattie now rather than tackling Willie and pinning him down.  Willie and Mattie shared the cat tree this morning, Willie reclined on the lower platform while Mattie lay beneath him.
Shotgun Willie (top) and Mattie-Kate
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller
The difference, now, is that they all trust each other.  Mattie-Kate came to us an innocent, trusting of all.  Earl had to learn to trust that she would not steal the attention and affections of Russ and myself. Molly, still a trusting puppy herself, had to trust that she could play with the new arrival without being scolded (as I do when she chases the cats, teases Froggy and tackles William).  Willie is a confident cat and quickly trusted that Mattie-Kate was a pal -- he was merely cautious at first.  Froggy was toughest:  she had to learn to trust that she could continue her normal, happy life. Froggy loves her routine and Mattie disrupted it. Now she has learned to co-exist.

Strangely, Froggy even lightened up more toward Molly this week.  Yesterday, Froggy took refuge in the shower.  Molly joined her and they touched noses affectionately, sitting next to each other on the cool tile. Soon, I expect Mattie will be curled up beside Froggy in a warm spot in the sun.

We're back to normal, now -- as normal as a house full of active young animals can be.  All are getting along; any tension has dissolved. All are happy.  All is well.

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