Cats do version of wrestlemania at new residence

August 02, 1998

Terry TalbertWhen my mom and I moved into our new home, she brought along her cats Katy and Smokey, and I brought along Cassie and her brother Scooter.

They came two by two, sort of like Noah's Ark, only not in that congenial, orderly procession portrayed in ceramic. No rainbow hung over this gathering. They came kicking and screaming. Mine did, anyway. Mom's were drugged for the 6-hour trip here from Ohio. Drugged cats don't kick and scream.

Thrown together with no warning, the cats were all a bit testy for the first week. (Actually, they're still a bit testy.)

They immediately hid until the noise and chatter died down and my brother and his family, who moved mom here, left.


Then they came out. They came out with their ears plastered back, their backs arched, and their heads bobbing.

They soon showed their true colors.

Katy is a short, rather squat tabby with a grating meow that sounds identical to her growl, which gives her a decided advantage in social situations. "Gravel Gerty" is how mom refers to her.

I'm firmly convinced that Katy is a reincarnation of Attila the Hun. She is aggressive, rude and obnoxious. When she perceives a threat, whether it be real or imagined, she reacts with an explosive offensive display that belies her rather rotund build.

On the other hand, Smokey is a gentlemanly and some say wimpy tiger.

Scooter is playful, a 20-pound mellow man who has also been known to turn the other jowl. (Do cats have jowls, or cheeks?)

Cassie is a long-haired coy, prissy lady, the kind who disdains the company of most humans other than me. She's the kind who walks slowly away from you so you have to follow her if you want to pet her. She hides a lot.

The cats at first got along fine. That was because they were sitting in different windows, and sleeping in different rooms.

Then Katy started staking out her territory, which happened to be the entire house. One day I thought Scooter was looking a little puffed up, and noticed that Katy was lying in wait on a chair in the hallway directly in the path of the litter boxes, growling every time one of the other cats tried to sneak in to take care of business.

Fearful that Scooter's bladder might explode, I warily shooed Katy out of the way so he could make a mad dash to the litter box. He did. Unfortunately, he was too nervous to do anything.

"Oh great," I said to mom. "Attila's going to have them all constipated."

Mom was insulted. "Her name isn't Attila, it's Katy," she said.

"Well, it's a misnomer," I replied.

Then Katy purposely grabbed Scooter's equivalent of a bampy rag - his beloved catnip bag, and rubbed it all over her face. She did this in plain view of Scooter, who was shattered by what he saw. He skulked into the foyer, where he sighed and went into a fitful sleep.

Scooter has a vicious right, when he wants to use it. He sits hugely, raises his white arm above his head, and cocks it. If he's pushed far enough he pumps it and THWACK THWACK THWACK, like a jackhammer pounds his opponent into the carpeting. Trouble is, he'd rather retreat.

Cassie does not have a vicious right, or left for that matter. She is impressive, however, when she extends all her hairs straight out and walks on her tiptoes. She looks like one of those cats suctioned to car windows. She looks like she's just taken a 7,000 volt jolt.

I encouraged both of my cats to stand up for themselves. I talked to them as they huddled together under Attila's watchful eye.

It must have sunk in. One day Katy took up residence in Cassie's favorite resting spot on the slate in the foyer, daring her to approach. Much to my amazement, Cassie transformed into a huge furrball, and began walking slowly on stiff legs toward her nemesis.

Then a frightening noise emanated from deep in her throat. I'd never heard it before. It sounded like she was gargling marbles. Attila seemed more shocked than impressed. She got up and charged Cassie, who actually swatted weakly back at her.

It worked. Attila abandoned the spot. Cassie plopped down. I gave her a thumbs up. She winked. (I swear she winked at me.)

Now I'm waiting for Scooter to get to THWACK point. I figure it's only a matter of time.

Yesterday Attila picked up his favorite mouse and swirled it around in her mouth, right in front of him. You could almost hear her growl NA NA NA NA NA.

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