If you’re a cat owner, you have heard the saying about litter boxes: Get 1 for each cat + 1 extra.
I never had a problem with that because after twenty years with ferrets, you understand how important it is to have plenty of toileting areas. Ferrets have little legs and short systems, so you really need at least 1 box per room. More if it’s a favorite room because they aren’t really fond of sharing. Neither are cats, especially male feral cats. We still had ferrets when Moon came to us, so he had his pick of boxes since there wasn’t a shortage.
However, litter boxes aren’t the topic of discussion today. I know. You really wanted to have that discussion, but my reason for bringing it up is that I think the + 1 applies to more than just the turd-box privacy not sharing thing.
Even though there isn’t any fighting going on between Rupert and Moon, there is still something going on. It’s subtle, but there are territorial boundaries being mapped out, and there is a whole lot of who gets what, when, and where going on with reference to sleeping areas and FOOD. Sometimes I think, “Awe, isn’t that sweet, Moon wants to be in Rupert’s room all the time. He must finally like him.” But then again, I might be totally off base and it’s really Moon just making sure that Rupert doesn’t leave the room, let alone leave his bed. I need one of those IP cameras to spy on them during the day.
Anyway, food is a big deal for feral cats who often spend a great deal of time hungry and fighting for food. Moon and Rupert are timid cats, so having their food stolen was a daily occurrence if we didn’t intervene most of the time. We thought Moon had gotten over his fear of dwindling resources, but with the arrival of Rupert in the house, his anxiety has resurfaced. Multiply that by the fact that Rupert is still working through his food issues, and, well, now we’ve got standoffs at the food bowl, gorging, and subsequent puking.
I feed them in separate rooms and have always done that to mitigate this anxiety, so there have always been two eating stations. One in Rupert’s room and Moon’s in the dining room, but of late, Rupert has been attempting to claim all the food for himself by licking the food in both bowls. This is upsetting Moon, and someone stuffed so much food into their face the other morning, they promptly threw it all back up again.
Here’s where that + 1 thing comes in. I got another of those Catsby bowls and put it in my bedroom. Only Moon goes in that room at the moment, especially when he is feeling anxious because that room smells the most like mommy. Moon is a nervous, needy boy, and nothing calms him down like being near the lady who saved him even if it’s just my scent. I caught him sleeping on my robe the other night when Rupert made him nervous, so I took the robe and put it on the sofa. Surprisingly, he’s been ok the past couple of nights being in the living room with Rupert as long as he has his robe blankie and his own secret food stash in my room.
We have always had + 1 water dishes, and + 1 rooms and beds to nap in, and they have food all day so that they can eat when they please, but maybe it wasn’t the amount of food available but the source location. I hope this + 1 dish thing will resolve whatever it is that’s happening at the moment that seems to be making both of them anxious. Things were going splendidly, and then all of a sudden, shit went south. It could be that the new feral cats moving about the neighborhood are causing the problem, but boarding up the windows like it’s a zombie apocalypse is not an option, obviously.
Like I said before, rehabilitating feral cats comes with a lot of challenges, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of “I don’t know what the fuck you want” arm flailing, but you get through it as best you can because you keep trying until you figure out what works until it doesn’t, then you try something else. Writing is like this too.
Here’s a good + 1 social structure article. Most I’ve read only mention litterboxes, this one applies the + 1 to all resources.
BTW: the Catsby bowls are a huge hit. Both kitties are noticeably more comfortable while eating. If you have a cat with chin acne or a cat that prefers to eat off the floor, give it a try, you might be surprised. I know they are expensive, but seriously, they are steel, you’ll have them forever, unless you run over them with a tank.