Katz Tales: Inkie’s secret war

  • Animals
  • Sunday, 11 Sep 2022

Inkie is triumphant while Target faceplants dramatically. Photo: Ellen Whyte

When La Nina launched her wet winds, Target shivered, meowing pathetically until I settled him on top of me and covered us both with his favourite Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia batik. It’s so old now that it’s super soft and thin in parts. But we love it and it traps the heat nicely.

Inkie pitched up too, lying up against me, demanding his share of the batik. He’s been cuddling recently, so I wasn’t surprised. However, I didn’t realise at the time but this was the start of something bigger.

Inkie was on a mission, but being clever, our tuxie hid his objective.

When Target realised the young cat was with us, he stuck his whiskers out from under the cover and glared. I am Target’s human and he doesn’t like to share.

However, our tropical petal was too taken up with getting warm to fuss. So Inkie stayed, purring happily. We didn’t understand that the satisfied rumble was a victory purr.

A day or so later, Target hopped up on the sofa – and found Inkie on his batik. He frowned and sat down, ears back with temper. He looked exactly like a regular who finds an impudent newcomer sitting on his barstool.

As Target is elderly and Inkie is young, I picked Inkie up and under the guise of offering a cuddle, gave Target access to his spot.

Inkie purred happily but as soon as I put him down, he was back at the batik. Target was clearly unhappy but Inkie just sat there. At this point, I wondered if this was the start of a power struggle.

Cats lead complex lives and there is no set pattern to the way they think about dominance and hierarchies. Neutering is a factor, but personality, environment, experience and relatedness are too.

In unneutered feral kitty communities, the focus is mostly on who has access to the queens. In some, one dominant older tomcat will chase away all other toms, including male kittens as soon as they mature. In others, adult male cats tolerate each other, except for battles over queens who are in heat.

Observing the feral community that used to be in our area, we had periods when one tom established himself as king, and even one who killed all kittens that weren’t his own, as well as periods where the big boy cats were social to all, including competing toms. Why is a mystery. It’s just complicated.

For neutered cats living in swanky houses with lots of food and leisure, there should be no fighting over who accesses the queens or anything else. However, some male cats are excellent friends and some are not. Relationships aren’t static either. Just like human people, cats will quarrel, make up, sulk, feud, be besties, act like frenemies and more.

With Target being an old boy and Inkie just maturing into being a proper adult tom, I wondered if there was some power play starting. I kept an eye on them, determined to manage any issues with a bit of subtle interference.

Over the next few days, whenever Inkie lay on the turtle batik and Target rocked up, I picked Inkie up for a cuddle and let Target claim his space. As I rubbed inkie’s ears, I whispered that Target is an old boy, so he gets some unfair advantages. And to remind everyone of the boons of being nice, we had a treat, shared with Target on his batik space and Tic Tac on her favourite Chinese willow pattern pillow.

Our cats are not daft and they figured out fairly quickly that pushing each other around got my attention. It wasn’t long before they were trying to herd me into the kitchen to the treat box, all on the pretext that they needed special bonding time.

I have learned a few tricks too, and so I switched from using treats as rewards and bonding time to cuddling and playing games. Inkie’s favourite is the bedmaking game, and as Tic Tac plays too, we had a blast.

The thing is, Inkie kept at it. When Target lay on the back of my chair, paw in my hair, Inkie jumped up too. In bed, Inkie snuck in and tried to lie between Target and me. As I observed, it looked like a play for territory, as if Inkie were pushing Target about, but it didn’t feel like it.

Whenever Target moved away, Inkie didn’t seem triumphant. On the few occasions that Target grumbled a warning, Inkie lay down and put on a submissive kitten act. I was watching Inkie sneak up on Target and sweetly lick an ear when the truth finally dawned on me.

This wasn’t a territorial push; Inkie simply wanted to hang with the big cat.

I think it hit Target and me at the same time because the very next time Inkie jumped up and sat next to Target, our old boy just let him be. OK, he actually planted his face in the pillow but that’s just Target being his usual drama cat self.

Inkie sat in the seat, planted right on Target’s flank, digging his claws in and staring in a very determined way. Then, as Target heaved a stagy sigh and theatrical moan, Inkie settled back, grinning with smug triumph.

And so we have a new normal where Target goes about his business and puts up graciously with Inkie shadowing him in worshipful awe.

Adopt Me

Mocha is one year old, healthy, vaccinated and spayed. This loving little lady is clingy, playful, and very, very talkative. In fact, Mocha was surrendered to PAWS in April because she cried when left alone at home when her previous owners went to work.

She was adopted out twice, and returned for the same reason.

Mocha is very sweet but she needs a home with people who work from home or where there is almost always a human present. Alternatively, she may be OK if given a cat companion.

Photo: PAWS/Celine ChumPhoto: PAWS/Celine Chum

We think a landed property to avoid complaints from neighbours is advisable too. Interested adopters please ask for Mocha, Tag Number: C124 (2022.04.08) at PAWS Animal Welfare Society, Lot 93316 - 93317, Jalan PJU 1A/20, Ara Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor (Phone: 011-2193 5651, GPS: LNG 101.570268, LAT 3.123971).

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Pets , family pets , cats , kittens , cat behaviour


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