Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cat Drama

I have not slept well the past few nights.  I have a horrid, pathological fear of spiders.  So turning back my bedcovers the other night and finding a large (for NH) icky eight-legged beast there pretty much ruined the night for me.  I was the only one awake and had a choice between fleeing or killing.  I chose to kill (for one of the first times ever), helped along by an electronic bug zapper.  Ignore the fact that I kept the voltage on for so long that the thing eventually sparked...  Anyway, after completely redoing my bedclothes I tried to sleep, but the night was ruined.  Every noise or slight movement made me jerk awake frightened.  And it doesn't just last one night.  I had another horrid beast run across me in the living room last night, which almost had me launching my precious laptop across the room in an effort to flee from the chair as quickly as possible.  So I have not been sleeping well.

This morning I woke at approximately 5:30 to Callaghan jumping on me asking for breakfast.  I do not tolerate such behavior - breakfast is served at more tolerable hours, like 11am.  I quickly went to the bathroom and then went back to bed.  At 7:03 I awoke to a horrific scream.  It took me a while to figure out what it was.  I got up and saw Griffin run into my room.  I heard the scream again.  As I walked out of my room I saw a flash of white tear past me, with a black and white cat quick on his heels. 

It took me a few seconds to put this all together.  What I was seeing was our outdoor feral barn cat, Tripper, chasing my indoor pampered house cats.  Tripper had never been in the house before.  I didn't know how he got in.  By this time my cats were hiding in my room, so I closed that door and went to see about Tripper.  He ran past me into the kitchen and then, when I attempted to herd him outside, ran into the bathroom.  So I closed that door to buy some time to assess the situation.

The back door was still closed and locked; no broken windows; no other open doors.  How did he get in?  I went to the bathroom and opened the door, and he tore past me into the spare room.  I followed him.  And saw it.  The window screen was punched out.  I hadn't even realized the window was open with a screen.  Callaghan and Griffin had recently caught wind of Tripper (literally, smelling him through the back door), and he them.  They had had a few staring matches through the kitchen windows.  But this was evidence of an all-out territory war. 

About this same time I realized that there was white fur in large patches all over the spare room (currently home to my brother's t-shirt screen printing machinery and all its accoutrements).  This scared me, as I realized it had not been just a chase but, more probably, a fight.

I heard my mother waking up and alerted her to the situation.  She came downstairs and went in to talk sense into Tripper.  By this time he was loudly meowing and trembling in a corner.  She was able to pick him up with only a few scratches and took him back outside.  I closed the window and removed the screen.

By then my heart was pounding a mile a minute and I started to worry that Callie was injured.  I opened my bedroom door, and Griffin came out cautiously.  I opened their breakfast food and spoke soothingly, hoping to coax Callie out.  Griffin went to inspect breakfast, still no Callie.  A few minutes later he emerged.

His normally luscious white coat was marred by spots of black and orange - apparently a result of brushing against the industrial ink cans in the spare room during the pursuit/fight.  He did not appear to have any blood or visible wounds, and he certainly didn't look like he had lost a pound of fur.

He let me pet him but remained hidden under a chair, haunches up and trembling.  A few minutes later I picked up Griffin to reassure him.  It was then things got really weird.  Callie started growling - a low constant growl.  Griffin hissed back at him.  I have never, ever seen either of them act that way toward one another.  Frankly that was frightening.  For the next few minutes they circled each other, hissing and growling and refusing to cede territory.  Wow.  I started to get all upset and googled cat behavior post-fight and tried to figure out what to do.  My mother told me they'd be fine in time; they just needed to work it out and get rid of the adrenaline.

I went back to sleep for another couple of hours, very uneasily again.  Griffin came in to check on me but didn't stay.  I think Callie sought refuge upstairs.

I woke up a bit later and witnessed some more posturing, growling, and hissing between these previously inseparable kitties.  I hoped it would ease in time, but I was pretty paranoid that I was facing permanent traumatic behavior and personality changes.

After checking all possible points of entry to the house, I reluctantly left the cats and went to the gym.  I worried about them the entire time and was unsure what I'd come home to find.

Both cats greeted me within a few minutes of coming in the house, and I saw both of them eat and drink.  They weren't actively hissing/growling, but they weren't near each other either.  I sat down at the computer, and they both joined me for pets.  On separate sides, but near each other.  After a few minutes I caught them both curled up on the couch - not touching, but close to each other.  A little while later they both curled up in the same armchair - again, not touching, but pretty close.  Neither cat joined me for an afternoon nap (hey, I'm on home leave and am not sleeping well at night!), which is unusual, but they were both affectionate when I woke up and when Mom got home.  I am feeling mighty relieved.

When I envisioned writing this post earlier today, right after the incident in question, I assumed I was going to be writing to seek support.  Luckily after 13 hours we seem to be close to normal.  Callie's ink spots are even fading.  I think we're on the road to recovery.

Tripper, however, is nowhere to be found.  He ate breakfast but hasn't touched his food bowl since them.  Tripper came to us in 2004 as a kitten from a friend's farm in PA, originally named Ortiz.  His littermate, Pablo, also joined us.  (My family are all Red Sox fans!)  They were barn cats but friendly and not afraid of people.  Pablo disappeared several years ago, having either moved on to a better home or meeting an untimely demise at the hands of a fisher cat (all too common for feral cats around here).  By then Ortiz had been renamed Tripper, for his penchant to dangerously wind in between my father's legs as he did outdoor chores.  About a year ago he disappeared.  Completely.  Not a trace of him was to be found.  We assumed he'd had an unfortunate encounter with a fisher cat.  (This happens a lot, sadly.  We've lost many a cat to the wilds of the woods.)  So imagine my parents' surprise when Tripper showed back up a few months ago after more than 10 months of not being around.  The joke is that he came home to retire.  He spends his days lounging in sunspots in the yard and entertains himself by hunting mice (and a rat yesterday - well done!) and terrorizing chipmunks and squirrels.  He continues to live up to his name.  I think today's event was just as traumatic for him and he's probably nursing his psychological wounds somewhere safe and quiet.

Oh the cat drama! 

1 comment:

Barbara Donnelly said...

You had a very stressful Tuesday! I think that Callaghan and Griffin were hissing and growling at each other because Callaghan’s coat smelled different after his fight with Tripper so Griffin didn’t like it. Their normal peaceful lives were disturbed by a strange cat.
As for Tripper, he is an outdoor cat so he senses other cats that are staying inside the house; they entered his territory and he got very unhappy. I hope Tripper will return home soon.