Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cats 1 - Dog 0

I've been staying with my parents since earlier this month. They have a dog, a frisky but sweet-tempered miniature schnauzer named Rudy. I, as you know very well, have two cats. So far, we haven't let them mix very much.

Rudy is inquisitive and susceptible to boredom. He tends to get into places, and then into things, where his moist nose doesn't belong. One has to be careful to keep the bathroom doors firmly shut against him, or else he will shred the toilet paper.

My cats, it turns out, do not. As surprising to me as to anyone else, they can be trusted with a full roll of TP on the roller, right in paw's reach. I learned this by accident when we decided to keep the cats closed up in the downstairs guest bedroom, which has its own bathroom. Their litter box, food and water dishes are in the bathroom. And I only realized after several days of kitteh access to the TP that all my years of keeping the rolled paper closed up in a cupboard, or on top of a lighting fixture, were wasted. Maybe the culprit I was protecting it from was the late Lionel, who hasn't been with us these past seven years. Oh, how well my cats have trained me!

Rudy also menaces other innocent pieces of paper that he may find within reach when no one is minding him. Because he tends to act out when bored, it never pays not to be minding him. My parents keep a childproof gate across the entrance to the "nice" living room, which they keep set up as a chapel in case church services fall through at their regular location. When allowed in there unsupervised, Rudy has been known to tear up pages of Dad's sermon and even (gasp! horror!) chew on the Altar Book.

So, we try not to let Rudy out of our sight for long. The saying applies equally well to Rudy the schnauzer as to many toddlers: When everything goes quiet, be very afraid.

The dog and the cats had barely seen each other until yesterday. Once or twice Rudy had darted into their bedroom when he happened to be by when the door was opened. All that had happened then was a bit of hissing and some tense and tentative sniffing, mostly between Rudy and my junior cat Sinead. I didn't think it was unpromising. My cats Sinead and Tyrone had started out that way, and look what a lovely friendship they have now. (Discounting the hissing, spitting, boxing, and chasing all over the room that sometimes breaks out.) So yesterday, when I got home from work, I decided to give Rudy and the cats a chance to get to know each other better.

I was the first one to get home after work. My Dad had something to keep him from home for another hour or two. My stepmom was out of town for the week. I needed to change out of my work clothes. And I needed to watch the dog. So I did the sensible thing: I combined the two tasks into one. Rudy came with me into my bedroom.

And there was hissing. And there was tense and tentative sniffing between Rudy and Sinead. All as expected, up to the point where previous visits had been terminated.

And then Sinead puffed herself up like a blowfish—an effect of which a longhair calico may become the world's premiere master. And then she backed Rudy into the bathroom, spitting and growling as only a cat on the edge of dogicide can. And then I heard the sound that made me drop the clothing I was trying to put on and run to the rescue.

Rudy, backed against the hallway door, had begun to cry.

I guess I had underestimated how scared of cats the poor pup is. Dad tells me he has been tormented by the neighbor's cats.

Now I know Sinead is a bully. I know Rudy is a coward. And I also know that Tyrone enjoyed the whole show, watching from curled-up on top of the bed with a look on his face that said, "Well, this might be interesting."

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