Sunday, November 14, 2010

An update to Project: Mass Hysteria

It's been a month and a half since Simon and River joined the family, and we've made a lot of progress towards reaching some kind of peaceful coexistence between them and Socks. There are no more gates up separating parts of the house, and the cats are out and amongst us feeling like part of the family (at least to the extent sociopaths can). The cats regularly use their ramps (though River almost never goes to the top). But we're not quite done, and probably have a few more weeks to go, at least.

The cats and dog can sit around near each other for hours, but there is also a regular incident where they squabble. Sometimes a cat (usually but not only Simon) comes over to Socks and hisses at her, riling her up, or even attacking her. Socks also goes towards one of the cats trying to get them to play sometimes, and they do not react well, but they don't usually back off, they usually get aggressive instead. Most of the time Socks backs off quickly, looking afraid, but once in a while she fights back; it's fairly clear she's not trying to hurt them but is just tired of being picked on and trying to establish a better place in the pack hierarchy. It does make things tense. I think the end of Socks's daily exercise bikerides won't help, either.

What's worse is it means we can't leave the doors open when we're out of the house. We can't trust the gates to keep Socks and the cats apart all day; they can be knocked down by accident too easily. So we still need to lock the cats away from the dog during the day, which means we still can't get our game room back. I can't guess how long it'll take; it could be days or another couple of months.

There is also the matter of the cat litter pan and Socks's desire to root around in it and eat things. We've been handling this with closed doors or gates, but we've just started Operation Cayenne Cat Litter, which means I'm sprinkling cayenne pepper over anything I find in the pans. The idea is a few times trying to eat those and getting spicy agony will make her stop. I'm dubious: if anyone could tell a cayenned cat-poo from an un-cayenned one at a distance by smell, it's a dog. I have realized I will need to keep up the cayenne treatment more often since the cats keep digging in there and scattering or burying it.

I don't know if we'll always have the bedroom door closed at night. The cats are not hesitant to make noise and jump on us at night which makes sleeping hard. Winter will be hard if we can't let heat from the woodstove into the bedroom though.

One day all this will seem like a minor interval we had to get through, but right now, I'm so eager for it to be done.


drscorpio said...

Have you considered bat box in the basement with a small cat door in the basement door, so Socks can't get through?

Also we use a covered litter box that mostly resolves our issue. I have caught Twix nosing around it a few times, but she has never taken the cover off.

Hawthorn Thistleberry said...

The basement idea is interesting, and I hadn't thought about it. Cayenne seems to be working already though, so I'll keep it in my back pocket in case the cayenne stops working.