feline matters (six)

At the lowest point, Em and Sarge could not stand being in the same room with one another, and if they were, there was violence. They circled around each other like strangers- Sarge cool and slightly interested, Emmett wild eyed and growling in his throat. If Sarge made a sudden move, Emmett exploded like a spring, his growl turning to a wildcat scream that rose every goosebump on my skin. There was also a lot of urine marking and I have a great tolerance for a lot of things, but not that.

An appointment with a pet behavior specialist helped me get a handle on things. I was clear from the first that rehoming one of them was the absolute last option. I couldn’t bear to let go of Emmett, and Miss L loves Sarge. So for several months, they lived in separate bedrooms that I regularly doused with bleach solution. It was the only thing that kept them from revisiting a spot they marked before. (Flowery smelling or citrus cleaners had the opposite effect, exacerbating the problem.)

The cat lady behavior specialist spent several hours being charmed by Sarge, while Emmett hunched in his carrier looking miserable. We came away with a prescription for cat Prozac and a renewed sense of hope that our family could be put back together. Since then, I’ve been grinding up the pills and sprinkling them in their wet food. I arrived at this method after realizing that they could detect a whole or partial pill in a pill pocket or a treat, or even if left whole in their wet food. Sick of finding that they had delicately eaten around the pill, leaving it soggy and ruined, I now ferociously pulverize it.

Within two weeks, the cats were able to spend ever-longer periods of time together & the marking was confined to the litter box. It’s an inestimable relief to have them together again. I have to completely redecorate the spare bedroom, as Sarge is the Odd Couple Oscar to Emmett’s Felix, but our home life is vastly better and the brothers are brothers once more.

The only sad thing is that it’s had an effect on Emmett’s personality. Before the meds, he was Mr Bright Eyes, Mr Fearless, the intrepid one with the big meow. Now, his pupils dilated, he is somewhat dazed and remote, sleepy. His brash kittenish way is gone and there hasn’t even been much cuddling on his very favorite Sherpa blanket with me. 

So this morning, when I woke up to find him asleep on the foot of the bed, I rested for awhile with him, admiring his soft stripes and needle sharp nail tips, his deep purr. 

And that, boss, is the long explanation of why I was late this morning.


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