Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ivy Returns: Social Problems Facing Social Cats

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, The site destroyed a more recent photo of Ivy, but this, her first picture, had been saved at Blogspot first.)

Yesterday I was worried that my lovely photogenic cat Ivy had been lost, strayed, or stolen. The other cats didn't seem worried...I think I figured out what happened from their behavior and evidence. I think it may interest those who are interested in social cats' behavior to know how I deduced the following Cat Sanctuary Interview, too...

PK: Ivy, I was worried about you! Everyone was worried about...when they were going to get their dinner, anyway...

(Hard evidence: I don't serve dinner until everybody's there.)

Ivy: Well, they have only themselves to blame. They've not been very nice to me!

(Hard evidence: Irene and Ivy hissed instead of kissing before they ate dinner.)

PK: Who wasn't nice to you and why?

Irene: She...brought...her disgusting mate, who I'm sorry to say is my father...into your house! And he behaved...disgustingly!

(Hard evidence: Irene and Gwai pointed to a tomcat stain on the wall behind my cats' litter box.)

PK: Ivy, how could you? Why did you? It's not as if you were even in heat...are you? Wasn't that last week?

Ivy: It's not merely a matter of being in heat. I love him! I know Heather hates him, and Irene doesn't appreciate him, but I love him!

(Hard evidence: Ivy always lets me know if this tomcat is staring at him like a lovestruck teenager watching her favorite movie star. Heather consistently avoided him, even while in heat.)

PK: Well, er...he's at least half Manx, and all the kittens he gave you and Irene died, and this year he doesn't seem to be giving anybody any kittens...and I don't believe he's a social cat, is he?

Ivy: How could he have learned to love anybody when no one else has ever loved him? And if he's not giving anybody kittens, is that his fault? Don't we have enough kittens?

PK: Ten kittens was certainly enough for one year. I hope there won't be any more before May! Nevertheless, Ivy, I'm puzzled. Most cats don't encourage visiting tomcats to hang around if they're not trying to have kittens.

Ivy: I am not "most cats." I'm a cat you don't meet every day. Most cats don't take turns watching over their nieces and nephews. Most cats don't show their humans where trespassers have been. Most cats don't even listen to human words. I do those things so why shouldn't I love my mate as much as any other animal does?

(Evidence: pair-bonding is sometimes observed in social cats, although total monogamy is rare.)

PK: What were you doing? Why was he here?

Ivy: Sharing food of course. Don't friends always share food? So I brought him inside to share our food, and then, finding everyone here so unfriendly, he invited me to his house to share his food. You see, he's learning our kind of manners!

(Hard evidence: they were in the Manx tomcat's neighborhood.)

PK: Sometimes when cats visit other humans on their own, without their own humans, the other humans try to keep them.

Ivy: They'd have to catch me first!

PK: I've tried posting pictures of you on the Internet so that good, well-meaning humans will know you're not a homeless cat. But of course that makes you a bit of a celebrity, and that might make nasty humans want to cat-nap you more than ever. Ivy, please don't go to visit anyone else without me.

Ivy: I want to be with the one I love, and by now he knows very well that nobody else here likes him.

PK: You cats will just have to settle that among yourselves. For starters I'll go back to putting your food out in the yard, now that the kittens are big enough to use the cat door. Then nobody will have any reason to bring any visiting cats indoors, will she?

Ivy: Well...not unless it snows...

Heather: Or unless they're wounded and need help.

Ivy: Or unless their humans have gone away and left them.

Irene: Or unless you bring them inside.

Heather: And what about Ivy's and my uncle Damian? He's really part of the family too, even if he lives down the road...

(Hard evidence: this cat family have in fact demanded that other cats be fed with them under these conditions. They do this by soliciting food for themselves, then calling their chosen friends to eat it. They don't invite any and all visiting cats to eat with them, but they've invited several.)

Local lurkers, please do not take this as an invitation to abandon any other cats at the Cat Sanctuary without giving fair warning to the humans here! We are not the Humane Society! We do not have masses of rich sponsors to send us tons of kibble! We do not have dozens of cages, and wouldn't cage dozens of unknown cats in one room if we did. So please ask before you drop off any other animals! Yes, this includes mice!