Monday, January 27, 2014

Doubtful Guest Still Here

We're still on the fence about keeping our Doubtful Guest, the kitten we call the Little Lion, who has the run of our apartment now. He is interacting bravely with the other cats, sharing their food dishes and play sessions, and slowly making himself at home. He's sharing everything but their litter box. He has his own little one, which the others try hard to sneak in and use, although it's too small for them. It must be a territorial maneuver. Possum snuck in and tried yesterday morning, but he's so big that he ended up peeing on the newspaper instead.

Everyone eats together now.

Harris and Toffee treat the Lion politely but distantly if they aren't in the mood to chase and play. Possum is also detached; he has yet to give him a welcoming head washing, which I find somewhat telling. Wendy hisses but mostly ignores him. It's as if everyone is waiting to hear what we decide.

Possum listens to Lion's thoughts about books.

We'd given ourselves a deadline of last night to make up our minds. We were in agreement, until sometime yesterday afternoon, that five simply feels like too many. Our apartment is small; until we finally move to a bigger place, we've been warned to expect territory battles as two (or three) young male cats jockeying for positions in our feline hierarchy. Wendy seems to have chosen the lowest position, but Possum is Top Cat, and one or more of the boys might try to overthrow him. (We remember Snalbert campaigning to be Top Cat after Wendy and Possum arrived. He went around ritually biting us and the cats for weeks. He'd sneak up when we were minding our own business, and suddenly park his fangs in one of our arms. Then he'd sit, staring at us as we'd struggle to detach ourselves, hollering, "Okay, you win, you're Top Cat!" We want no more of that, thank you.)

"Do you see a kitten, Harris?" "No, Possum, I don't see any kitten. Do you?"

Then there's the fact that we'd be pushing our litter box deeper into the danger zone with five cats. Most cat care guides say that, to avoid protests and "accidents," we need N + 1 boxes, where N = the number of cats. Oh, well. Ours is very large and we clean it twice a day. But five cats and one box is asking for trouble, of a kind we've never experienced. We don't have room for another box, end of story.

Five cats are also expensive: our cat food bills are already outrageous; I think we spend as much on the cats each month as on groceries. Also, we are noticing that the others, especially Harris, aren't getting all the attention from us they'd like these days. We spend too much time with a purring kitten in our lap, or giving him extra play time.

We can't help it if Lion is a lap cat; Harris and Toffee outgrew that long ago, for the most part, although we hope they'll grow back into it again. Possum is a lap cat, but on his own terms, and he's been avoiding me lately. Anyway, it's clear that they all would like more quality time. Even Wendy, but only from my husband.

So, as you can see, we've given this a lot of thought, and the reasons are stacking up against keeping the D.G. But...

A friend of mine (who's had up to six rescued cats) wrote to me that our decision should "reflect the degree of happiness" the kitten gives us. When we look at it that way, he's a keeper. He brings us joy — he's sweet, loving, innocent, cute, playful, wide-eyed, all those kitten things. He's also fairly quiet, not crazy-active or destructive like many kittens are. So he's kind of right for us, it's just that the timing is wrong. So we — well, one of us, anyway — is back on the fence, wondering how sad and wrong it might feel if we hand him off to Robin one of these days. So the Lion will remain our Doubtful Guest for a little longer.


  1. Perhaps you should look at things from Lion's standpoint. His best chance to be adopted is - right now. If you keep him longer and things do not work out (fighting, peeing, or unhappy cats you have already committed to), then you will have made it harder for him to find his forever home.

  2. Very good point, 4catstoo. Maybe I just need a little more convincing that Robin will be able to part with him, too! He's exactly her type...

  3. To say it's "all about the happiness you would derive" seems to me a rather limited way of framing the issue. First, it places precedence on your wants and needs over those of the cats --yet bringing another cat into the family affects _them_ much more than it affects you. (Imagine some developer plunking a huge development on your street and thinking only of the business interests rather than the neighbors, blocking sunlight, traffic patterns, etc.) Second, it ignores the fact that your own happiness with X (new cat, new office job, whatever) will diminish if you see the other cats (or husband) are not happy because they are not getting the attention they want or need.

    You are a wonderfully caring animal lover, and I believe your love for W, P, H, and T (and husband!) as well as little Lion will guide you to the best decision for all.

  4. Little Lion seems perfect despite the space constraints - most kittens would have a harder time acclimating so quickly and sweetly. Impossibly difficult decision to give up a "keeper." And you love him already. And eventually you'll move to a bigger space. And as someone said, he's not really a small kitten anymore which diminishes his chances finding a home. I vote keep!

    Re litter boxes, we have 3 cats and a small apartment too. We recently upgraded from one large box to two medium boxes side by side and they seem much happier with less digging and flinging. We scoop at least 4 times daily. Ridiculous, I know. Now if I could just find a dust-free litter that they all like…

    Joyce plus 3.


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