14 May 2012

kitty korner :: 2 in 1?

i remember very well the day that we went to pick up simon and hecubus. it was a strangely mild day in january and we somehow managed to score a parking spot on st. laurent directly in front of the door. for those of you not familiar with montreal: that never happens.

one of the things that i remember most was how excited and effusive the lady we dealt with was about the fact that we were taking both of them. she was excited because they had really come to depend on each other, that they did everything together and that she hated the thought of them being separated. personally, once i'd met and fallen in love with them, it had never occurred to me that we might take just one. i couldn't imagine being so cruel as to leave one behind. besides, what would make a kitten feel better about adjusting to a new environment with new brothers and sisters than having their own sibling by their side?

certainly, it helped seth and julia that both of them came home with us at once [and got a similarly thrilled reaction from their foster mom]. it also kept either one of them from driving arthur batshit crazy, because it meant they could play with each other, rather than spending hours trying to snag his tail. even though seth and julia were [and still are] pretty young, it seemed like a good idea that a bouncy little brother would come equipped with a bouncy little buddy. as it turns out, this was absolutely crucial with them, because they are quite possibly the two most energetic cats i've ever met and if they didn't have each other to play with, we'd all be dead by now. and it was obvious from the start that the two of them were very, very close.

i've long since realised that the idea of the independent cat is not quite as reflective of reality as we've been led to believe. in the almost quarter century i've been a cat lady, there have been few times that i haven't been owned by multiple cats and those that shared my living space could more often than not be found together. it's not that they don't have their alone time, but it's still rare that one of our cats is completely alone in a room with no humans or siblings.

but i'm starting to wonder if i should be at all concerned about simon and hecubus. normally, as cats reach adulthood and feel a sense of ownership over their territory, they separate a little more. seth and julia still nap together sometimes and seth and arthur will actually spoon when the mood strikes them, but simon and hecubus are still virtually inseparable.

and by that i mean that it's sometimes difficult to distinguish that there are two cats. it's fairly easy when they're running around playing, although if they're moving fast, it can get really tricky to figure out which one just punctured your bladder and which one knocked over the lamp. but it's the sleeping thing that gets almost freaky.

although they're going on two years old- well past the age where cats reach maturity- the two of them are constantly napping as if they've been squished into a very small box. in fact, i think they'd be happy with a very small box, because it would make their habit of sleeping on top of each other, or folded into each other, or bent around each other in sailor-knot formation a little more reasonable.

but they're not in a small box, or any kind of box. they're in a large apartment and even if, for some reason, they wanted to limit themselves to sleeping on our bed, it's a queen size, so they could comfortably occupy different sides and have lots of space to themselves.

sure, this is a recipe for almost unbearable cuteness, but i can't help but wonder if at some point, it's indicative of a pathology. after all, if cats are even moderately independent, would obsessively clinging to one's sibling be indicative of some deep-seated anxiety? do they feel unsafe? is there something i'm supposed to be doing to make them feel more at ease? the little buggers can't talk, or at least they can't talk in english, which makes understanding their needs kind of a biatch.

and don't try turning to the internet for advice. no one posts anything on "cats who love too much". 

i'd like to make it clear that dom and i would have no problem if simon and hecubus were gay, but they are brothers* and i do think that we need to draw a line there. but if anything, they seem a little competitive when they're trying to impress their adopted sister [who is never impressed by anything they do], so i don't think we have a sexual orientation question.

having observed them for a year and a half, it's incredible that nothing dissuades them from their cuddling. we had a stretch where the weather hit 45 degrees celsius for over a week last year and you couldn't pry them apart with a crowbar. that seems just flat-out unhealthy.

i worry that they feel somewhat cowed because of their diminutive stature. after all, arthur and seth are fairly massive and even julia, while she weighs less, is taller and longer. are they thinking that together they form one normal-sized cat?

i'm not sure what to do about this, or if there's anything i should be doing, but in the meantime, i'm generally just trying to convince people that we own one giant, multi-headed centipede cat that comes from another dimension and eats our enemies on command, but since several of our enemies are still around [for now], that isn't the easiest sell.

as an anxious fur-mom, i'm sure i'll be trying to solve this for years. in the meantime, i'll just try to appreciate the cuteness.

*how can simon and hecubus be brothers when they're two different breeds [tonkinese and siamese respectively]? glad you asked. apparently, when lady cats are in heat, they'll try to hook up with as many males as they can in order to fill their bellies with healthy, hearty kittens. and to give their brood the best possible diversity of genes, females are capable of conceiving from multiple males during the same heat cycle. that means that depending on how much mama gets around, one brood of kittens can have multiple baby daddies.

evidently in this case, mama hooked up with at least two guys, which makes me worry that that in itself could precipitate some kind of disorder.

3 comments:

Aaron Fenwick said...

I honestly think it's an upbringing thing for cats. Cats have many habits as kittens that they grow out of as they get older, the affection for other cats is one of those things as in the wild they usually have quite large and disparate territories like most apex predators.(Other than Lions)Most people treat cats as independents, so as they grow they assume their default behaviour. I have lived with cats for almost as long as you, and have noticed that cats that were brought up with other cats from kittens tend to exibit these traits more than cats that have had time alone or as strays. Apollo and Munchie at home are great examples, Apollo was found as a stray kitten with this brother. They were adopted togeather and grew up togeather inside my partner's house. Now Apollo's brother passed away when they were one and Apollo has remained a very social cat. He basically adopted our youngest (munchie) who has learnt the same habits while Cloud and Emma (both of whom grew up alone with no other cats) are stand offish as far as the other cats are concerned...(Long but Hopefully relevent comment :P )

Biba said...

Interesting thoughts...

But I must admit I was like: "this is just too freaking adorable" the entire time.

Kate MacDonald said...

@Biba- Yeah, I have to admit, I'm overstating my worry. It is completely adorable to see them together.

@Aaron- I think you're absolutely right. In this case, because they came from a place where they were constantly together in a fairly small space, they just got used to the contact. Both are VERY social with people and other cats as a rule, so I think it comes to them naturally.

Each of those photos were taken at a different time and believe me, there could be hundreds more... I'm happy to have shared the cute :-)

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