Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best of Friends

When I used to volunteer in the cat room at a local shelter it used to amaze me how many people didn't believe that you could introduce two adult cats and have them get along!  Most people, including myself, were brought up with the notion that you have to get cats and dogs as kittens and puppies if you want them to get along with a resident animal.  This is so not true and the Horton animals are a perfect example of that.

Our beloved Nikita was our first cat.  He was about a year and a half old when we got him and we instantly fell in love.  About 7 months after adopting him we decided he needed a friend because he wanted to play with me all the time and I had the scratches to prove it.  We adopted Fidel a loving 10 lbs. cat.  Nikita hated him.  He body slammed the poor thing all the time.  Fidel was in heaven and didn't care.  They got along for the most part.

Two years later we adopted Vlad.  Nikita really HATED him.  It was at this point that he decided he loved Fidel so the two of them teamed up and tortured Vlad for 2 years, turning him into the sissy cat he is today.  OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit.  Nobody ever got hurt and it wasn't constant.  They had their moments of jealousy, but for the most part we had a peaceful household.

Until we brought a dog home.  At first Luna was terrified of the cats.  She spent her first week home huddled and shaking in our arms.  We put a baby gate up in the hall way to keep the two species separated and it worked.  It took a solid 2 months before the cats ventured over to the dogs territory.  Somewhere along the way, Luna's herding instincts kicked in and she realized what great fun they were to herd around the house.  Nikita never accepted her and spent most of his time in high places staying as far away from her as possible.

Sadly, Nikita left us in 2008 after he developed lymphoma.  We waited about a week to bring Karl home.  It was instant love for everyone.  Fidel had a new best friend and Vlad was no longer tortured for being a big cat and thus a threat.  We'd often come home to the 3 of them snuggling on our bed mostly wrapping their bodies around Fidel to keep him warm.

We enjoyed a solid two years of harmony with our three cats, Fidel, Vlad and Karl plus our corgi Luna until we lost Fidel this past April to a myrid of health problems.  He fought a long battle with hyperthyroidism and kidney failure (CRF).  He developed anemia in the last few months of his life.  And even though we swore we would be a 2 cat household after we lost him we couldn't help but check out cats on  That's how we found Joey and the process of reintroducing a cat to house began all over again.
Joey and Karl relaxing after an intense game of sparkle ball.

Joey was a tough one because he didn't really any of the cats at first and definitely hated Luna, he was pretty vocal about that.  After the first month he had calmed down a little and was trying to figure out how to play with Vlad and snuggle with Karl.  A few months after that we caught him loving on Luna.  He now very openly headbutts her for love and cleans her ears and she takes it with a look of horror in her eyes, but I know she'll come around too.

We might not have the same mothers, but we love each other like brothers.  
I guess the lesson here is that it just takes time.  It's sad how many people don't want to put in the time and effort to adopt an older animal.  I also want to say it depends on the animal.  We had to find cats with the right personality or we knew it would work.

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