It appeared to be loathing at first sight, as if they were fresh off an unfortunate former life together. She growled and hissed. He hissed back and said, “Mama! Mama!” I’d never heard him do that before, and it was quite distinct. I was so excited about having our younger daughter’s cat Ditto here this summer with our cat Garfield and Ruby our Golden Retriever that I kidded about having a little wedding in the hoop house. At least hang a banner. Anyway, the story is still unfolding, but the fanciful greetings are off.
You hope it will get better. Give it time, at least a few hours. Keep them separated. Spend quality one-on-one time with each of them. Let them eyeball each other and vocalize through the screen door of the enclosed porch we call the cat condo…where we hope they will be roommates. Ha!
The low point came on Monday night when we had maneuvered them both into the house. Garfield nestled with me on the couch. Ditto was in the kitchen with the Bearded One and our daughter. Ruby was still outside. The cats hadn’t seen each other inside the house yet, was our best guess. Our daughter walked over to me. She spoke to Ditto, who trailed her. “Garfield is here,” she said. And then Garfield spied her and hopped off my lap to say “hi” and play. Ditto hissed and smacked him with her paw, claws presumedly out. He smacked her back and then chased her upstairs where she hissed and growled from under the bed. She spent the night there.
Ditto is exquisite, a loving apartment cat to three nursing students for an entire year. “She is the perfect cat for me,” our daughter says, “which is why this sucks. I understand what she wants, like you do with Garfield.” We all have our fierce, ruthless, feral side. Our daughter was just now seeing Ditto’s. Literally. She had never even heard Ditto’s unsettling, now ever-present, warning growl.
Tuesday morning, Ditto left and we didn’t see her all day. The Bearded One had spent a couple of days pointedly teaching her the sound of the call whistle we use for all animals, to help her find us if (when) she bolts into the woods, and, ugh, coyotes. We whistled for her and thought about her as we worked on the hoop house. The design upgrade is a happy success. Water does not pool, and the wood slats make it look more like a barn and less like an iceberg.
The rhubarb is going gangbusters, so I also made a pie. I used my big 9×9 square pan, since my usual round pies have been boiling over. Which reminds me of my favorite pie joke. The farmer asks his son what he’s learned at that fancy, expensive college. The son proudly says, “Pie are squared.” The farmer shakes his head. “I knew we was wastin’ our money on that college,” he says. “Son, CORNBREAD are square, pie are ROUND.”
Wednesday morning, I awoke with two spectacular sneezes. The influx of cat fur blows my mind since Garfield started shedding, and Ditto is a shedding machine. The fur sticks to the lotion on my face, and I feel tarred and feathered. But I am a sucker for soft things.
Now Ditto is back, alive after spending the night in the woods, and we’re playing it by ear. Our daughter heard the two cats yowling at each other early this morning. Maybe they’ll work it out. Miracles occur matter-of-factly every day everywhere you go. Just yesterday Ruby trotted up to us with her mouth full. (She knows she’s not allowed to eat debris on the road if we’re there practically staring right at her…) “Drop it,” I said, and she let go a perfect open-face cheeseburger with pickles still on the cheese. “A Big Mac and fries!” The Bearded One was thrilled. “Were there any more of those?” Then we ran into a neighbor who told us that his son was just accepted as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Anything can happen.