Sunday, March 08, 2009

Impaled on the horns of a non-knitting dilemma

... for the animal lovers out there.
As longtime readers of the blog know, chez Sock Knitters, we have three cats. We started with Spoot and Mab, who are females of about the same age, and two years ago, we added Angus, a younger male cat.

('I would like a friend, please. Or else I will bite you.')

Angus and Spoot and Mab have a policy of mutual tolerance now, unless Angus gets in the ladies' faces, in which case Spoot pitches a hissy and Mab smacks him upside the head.
Every so often, if Angus really wants to play, he'll just tackle one of the girls, and then the peaceful quiet is rent with hissing and thumping and a blur of rolling cats goes whizzing past on the hardwoods and the Fool and I are leaping to our feet and waving our arms and, yeah.
Generally, I think Angus would be happier if we played more with him, but we can't always do that, especially since Jamie was born.
Enter the dilemma.
A friend of ours has to get rid of her cats. She has a male cat, Romeo, who is four, but acts like a one-year-old cat - i.e. is very playful - and the Fool and I, in a moment of something, started wondering if Romeo might be a good friend for Angus, someone he can roll around with and wrestle with and do guy-cat stuff with.
On one hand, if Romeo and Angus hit it off, Romeo won't go into the overburdened animal shelter system, and Angus will have a buddy and will quit bothering Mab and Spoot.
On the other hand, if Angus and Romeo do not hit it off, then we will have a house full of four squabbling cats.
Either way, we will have four cats, and the Fool feels like four cats is a line to be crossed - three cats is fine, but four cats is heading down the road to Crazyville and next thing you know, we'll be making tinfoil hats and wearing Kleenex boxes on our feet or something.
A veterinarian friend said basically, either this will work great, or it will be terrible, and the only way to know is to try it.
I'm not sure what to do. Things are OK now. They could be better, but they're not bad. Maintaining the cat status quo (the cattus quo?) would be fine.
What do the experienced cat owners out there think?

(Spoot says, 'maybe with a fourth cat, they'll quit making me pose in dumb hats.')
Inquiring minds want to know.


anne marie in philly said...

my neighbors have 6 cats; they do not wear tinfoil hats or kleenex boxes, and they hold responsible day jobs (education). and all the cats all get along. when I "cat sit" for the neighbors, the cats are gentle, and the house is clean; no fusty litterbox smells there.

angus does need a guy pal to work off some of that energy.

hopefully you have room in your hearts for another cute furball - if that is romeo's pix at the end of your post, what a sweetheart!

Scott said...

3 cats, 4 cats. What's the difference? Chances are that Angus and Romeo will hit it off, and Angus will have someone to play with. Doesn't necessarily mean it will be more peaceful though. :)

Christy said...

Why not give him a test run? Take him for a week and see if the boys get along. It sounds like it would be a good idea to give him a buddy.

David S. F. Portree said...

I agree, take Romeo for a test drive.


Stephenson! said...

Hey, now... WE have five cats and we don't wear tinfoil hats or other such crazy things... and you've seen how tiny our apartment is.

A test drive is a good idea, but I don't think a week will do it, unfortunately. Cecil, who is (used to be?) the Alpha, took months and months to adjust to other cats coming into the household. About the middle of last year was when we started seeing him lying with the other cats, cleaning them, etc. and not just being a little shit to them every time they came near him.

I do think testing out the waters with Romeo is the only way to know, but it will take longer than a week. You guys do have much more space than we do, though, which helps a lot with new and established cats having space to adjust for as long as they need.

Moral: I would go for it, but be patient with all of them during adjustment time. Our cattus quo is fine now (and was almost as soon as we moved to Seattle), but our newest was added three years ago.

LaurieM said...

Since Romeo would have to go to the shelter if he can't come live with you, then it's worth a try. If Romeo and Angus get on, great! If they don't, then Romeo goes to the shelter later, rather than sooner.

However, if there is another home that would love Romeo, I wouldn't chance taking him in. That's a lot of cats!

Anonymous said...

give him a might find a gem

Katie said...

I say this with all the love in the world:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You're totally a 4 Cat Household now, you do realize this, right? You might not have the 4th in residence yet, but just contemplating the addition means that you're basically trying to figure out if you need to get another litter box and where to put it.

Good luck with Romeo! I hope that he and Angus, Mab and Spoot get along nicely together. Or that he at least distracts Angus enough to give the girls a break! ;-)

And I think that Jamie helps to balance out the People/Cat ratio n the household. Some friends of the family had at one point 3 cats, 3 dogs, and some sort of pet bird. Quite the menagerie, and they were just as sane as the rest of us. (Take that how you will!)

Pork with Bones said...

The fourth-cat experiment seems worth a try, at the least. As another commenter said, though, don't expect things to go smoothly from day one. In my experience, about six months is the time it takes for cats to relax and start the buddying-up process. (Lest this time frame alarm you, that doesn't mean I've seen more than general standoffishness punctured by occasional spats before that time.) After that, cats seem to decide these cat strangers are here to stay, and the ones whose personalities are compatible start hanging out together instead of trying to pretend the others don't exist.

Also, I wouldn't have my male cat without my female. He'd be every bit as much of as roughneck as Angus.

And what's the worst thing that could happen? It doesn't work out, and Romeo has to enter the cat shelter system a few months or a year down the road instead of immediately. You're responsible pet owners, so it sounds worth a try.

Lanea said...

I'm going to be the mean lady who plays devil's advocate and asks: "Are you nuts?"

I love cats. I have two young male cats, who I got as a pair because they're both sweet and lovely and seemed to get along well with each other at the shelter. Yarrow is like Angus in many ways. Speedwell is unlike Angus and Yarrow in all of the wrong ways--he's not terribly smart, he's not athletic, and he's a complete scaredy-cat. Speedwell wants to be the alpha because he's older and larger (and dumb), so he frequently challenges Yarrow. Yarrow then beats the snot out of Speedwell, which upsets order-loving Kaio and scaredy-cat Speedwell a lot, and I feel very bad about it. Nothing has helped--not feliway, not playing more or less, not giving or withholding catnip, not different food. Nothing. I love my pets, and Speedwell isn't in actual danger and Yarrow doesn't truly harm him, but I now know I should not have picked these two cats to live together. They're happier apart, but I'd feel like a heel if I gave either up, so we're all stuck. Speedwell was a different, better cat while Yarrow was at the vet during his surgery and recovery last fall. The folks at the shelter pushed us to take the two as a pair because they wanted better homes for both--and both are certainly better off with us than they were at the shelter. But cats aren't pack animals like dogs, and getting another cat to entertain one you already have isn't likely to help much. Angus will be Angus, and Spoot and Mab will wonder why you're subjecting them to a broader reign of male-cat terror. Depending on how Angus and new cat decide to play out their relationship, Spoot and Mab may end up being harassed much more with another male in the house.

So, my advice is not to venture into additional cat territory unless you're sure you can surrender the new cat to the shelter if he isn't fitting in a month or two after adopting him. I sure can't do it, and I'd be bringing one of my guys to a wonderful no-kill shelter.

Diane said...

There's no specific number of cats to qualify as a crazy cat person. I know a few people with just one who don't seem to be playing with a full deck. I foster cats so I've had up to 7 in my household and still manage to hold adult type conversations about subjects other than scooping the litter box.

I've always found it best to go with my first instinct about adding another animal to the household. If the first thing that pops into my head is no then no is the correct answer. You shouldn't get another animal in hopes that it'll be another's bestest friend ever. Get one because you want another cat.

otter said...

Coming out of lurking to say: we have four cats and four dogs, and while sometimes it is a zoo, we still, for the most part, don't have tinfoil hats, and we wear real shoes. Give it a try, like others have said. 2 or our kitties are recent transplants, and while things are still shaking down, it seems to be working out.

yarndork said...

I think cats are like kids, in that once they outnumber you, it really doesn't matter much how many more you have.

Julie said...

I'm allergic to cats, so I have no standing but ...
If not taking him means he goes to a shelter, you have a nothing to lose by trying him out.
If you don't take him, he goes to a shelter.
If you take him and it doesn't work out, he goes to the shelter and is no worse off than if you hadn't been involved.
If you take him and it works, sure, you're the crazy lady who sort of smells like cats no matter how much she washes, but you'll be happy and your cats will be happy, and no one went to the shelter.
There's nothing you can do that makes this cat's situation worse, so there is no wrong choice, only a choice that could make his situation better.

Anonymous said...

at the moment we are without a cat, but we have had cats, one, two, three or litters at a time.
we have had two cats who went along reasonably well, but the third one added to that mix would have been much better of on her own. even when she had her own son living with her she was unhappy, did not give us time etc.
so, i'm afraid that for the female cats' sakes, i find it unfair to add another feisty young male. Angus is already quite something. Jamie will be a great play mate soon for him.
there must be another good house somewhere for Romeo.


Jeanne said...

I have to agree with the other comments... once you get past 2 you have a brood and they, like children, tend to pair off with their favorite friend of the moment. In my own experience, the more cats there are, the less squabbling there is - they don't HAVE to be with anyone they don't want. I say go for it!! Good luck