Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Breeding for Brains: the Latest Cat Report
Ever since Moondancer died, his son Furrocious has been the undisputed top tomcat of the family. Since we got the fence completed, his tomcatly duties have been a lot easier: patrolling the 'territory', chasing small game (small lizards and the occasional pigeons), and driving off interlopers. He's become a lot more tolerant of Roderick's big dog, Jake, since Jake chased off an invading tomcat whom Furrocious would otherwise have had to deal with personally (Jake has a very keen sense of who belongs on the 'territory' and who doesn't). It's not surprising that he spends most of his time outdoors, even in this weather (there's good shade on the back porch and under the trailer), only coming in for dinner and during rain-storms or dust-storms.
When he does come in, of course, he has to make sure that there's at least a trace of his, ahem, scent-marks in the house, just to remind the indoor cats who's the top tom around here. He keeps me busy cleaning up after him with Lysol and Urine-B-Gone.
And then there's his young nephew, Silverfrost (because he got the rare silverdust-color coat), whom I've earmarked to be the next breeding tom. Rasty's nicknamed him "Trouble" because he's so good at getting into it; any closed door is a mystery he just has to explore, which is why we've had to put a hook-and-eye latch on the kitchen cabinet. He's about eight months old, which makes him the equivalent of a young teenager, and he's beginning to feel his oats. He has better sense than to challenge Furrocious to a duel; Furrocious is so muscular that we've nicknamed him "Gladiator" or "Spartacus", and he's half again Silverfrost's size. When Furrocious is out of the house, little Frosty does his best to mount the queen-cats, but they're lamentably uninterested -- because they're still nursing their new litters of kittens, but he doesn't know that. He seems to assume that the problem is with his approach; he just isn't impressing the females enough.
It's what he decided to do about that that's interesting. When I let Furrocious in last night, after he'd eaten his fill he strolled about the house, checking it out, and he found a good spot for leaving his "mark". He let fly, and made a fine puddle on the carpet. I saw, and yelled and grabbed for the water-spray bottle, and he took off for safety. I stomped off to get the Lysol and Urine-B-Gone and paper towels, and barely noticed Frosty flitting past me. 'Twas when I got back with the supplies that I saw Frosty deliberately rolling in the puddle, rubbing his fur in it from head to tail. I shooed him off and started pulling paper towels off the roll, but I wondered why on Earth little Frosty had done that, so I followed him and watched.
What Frosty did was to trot into the kitchen where the females were taking a break from kitten-tending and parade himself past them, head and tail high, ears and whiskers spread, rolling his shoulders like a lion, casting sidelong glances at the queens. You could almost see him thinking: "Do you like me now that I smell like a real grown-up tomcat?" He made three passes, just to make sure they didn't miss anything
Well, the females noticed, all right, but they weren't impressed. Comet got up and pointedly walked away. Nascar visibly sneered, and hissed. Dejected at his failure, Frosty ran off into the bedroom.
Well, I let Furrocious out the front door, finished cleaning up his "signature", then took up some baby-wipes and went after Frosty. I found him hiding in the laundry-basket, looking miserable. I petted him, picked him up (noticing that, yes, he smelled of adult tomcat pee), petted him much, cleaned him off with the baby-wipes, then petted him some more until he started purring. He's a very people-oriented cat, and petting will usually cheer him up.
Later I caught him consoling himself by trying to hunch a kitten (no luck) and then a shaggy small pillow -- which at least didn't hiss and run away. I can understand his frustration, but he'll just have to wait until one of the queens comes into heat again -- and then try his luck by himself.