The Kitten Schism

We have a kitten problem.

Photo of two mostly white young cats sitting on a brown couch.

“Oh, hai!”

Seriously. They’re a HUGE problem.

And I know you’re looking at them and thinking, “Oh, they’re soooo cute and sweet looking, how could they be a problem?” and to that I just say oh, man, you don’t even know. For, like, ten pounds of cat, they have disrupted our household in a serious way.

Last May, when we started thinking about adding to our cat family, we were a little nervous. It seemed risky to get additional cats when we already had three, because our original cat ecosystem was SO delightful and we were afraid of disturbing it. Assuming everything would be fine, we adopted Pickles, up there on the left, and Sharky.

Ecosystem —> KABLOOEY!!!!

Now we have two ecosystems.

They’re both super delightful ecosystems, but they are distinct.

Two is better than one, right? (Wrong.)

See, one of our cats, Ruby, HATES the kittens. She hates them with a white hot intensity that I didn’t expect from such a goofy cat. It is inexplicable how much she hates them. But hate them she does.

As for the other two cats, one of them—Starfire—is totally fine with the kittens. The third cat, Oreo, is a little bit ambivalent. She’ll hiss at them and then she’ll sniff at them and she would occasionally play with them, but mostly she seems to follow Mean Girl Ruby around and meows the equivalent of, “Is that what you’re wearing?” *eye roll* “Brown fur patches are soooo six years ago.”

(Pickles: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by Ruby.”)

Ruby chases the kittens. She bats at them and she tries to bite them on the butt. As a silver lining, the kittens’ terror has made them bond very strongly with us. They used to spend all of their time on the couch next to us—or hiding under one particular chair. Honestly, it was a little sad.

Photo of Quinn sitting on the couch reading a book. He has both kittens on his chest under a blanket.

But cuddly. Very, very cuddly.

You know how when you were a kid, you would pretend that the floor was lava and you couldn’t step on it? That was the kittens’ life, because the floor? The floor belonged to Ruby.

Photo of my family room in which there is a large couch. You can see two small white cat heads peeking over the back.

“Please don’t leave us.”

We have always kept the kittens in our bedroom at night so they feel safe while they sleep. But these fucking little cats are so helpless that we had to carry them downstairs in the morning and carry them back upstairs at night.

Photo of Alex holding two small white cats.

“I’m sure these things at the end of our legs are supposed to do something, but I’m just not sure what.”

We have tried very many things to bring peace back to our animal kingdom. We have a Felaway diffuser, Ruby wears a delightfully scented, purple calming collar, and we have been very liberal with treats around the kittens. We have even given Ruby chewable Prozac for cats. Seriously. We had a whole conversation about Ruby’s right to self-determination before we decided the kittens had a right to not be bitten on the ass every day and we started stuffing pills into Ruby.

We’ve had some success, but Ruby still HATES the kittens. And much as I always swore that I would never live in a segregated house where one set of cats lived in one place and another set lived in another, that is what we have come to. We’ve temporarily moved the kittens to our bedroom until Ruby either forgets they exist or forgets that she hates them. Or until one side or the other dies.

Sometimes I’ll put Ruby in the bedroom and let the kittens hang out in the main part of the house. It takes the kittens a while to figure out that they’re safe though. The other day, I brought the kittens downstairs, put them on the couch, took a shower, went to the grocery store, went and took an oath to become a notary, came home, and they were in the exact same spot where I’d left them.

Screenshot of text message to Alex. It's a photo of the two white kittens sitting on the brown couch. There are two texts from me to Alex underneath it: "I left them here two hours ago." and "Sharky looks like he's been crying."

That’s Sharky in the back with the circles under his eyes.

Seriously, I carried them to the litter box the other day. They are CATS. That’s why you have cats, so you don’t have to take them to the bathroom. (See above, re: kitten problem)

After they realize that Ruby isn’t coming for them though, they relax.

Two photos, one of Sharky sitting by the blinds. He has one foot up where he's been batting at them. The second is Pickles relaxing on the floor next to a catnip ball. Both kittens are staring off into the distance.

I know they look alarmed still, but that’s because I was shouting their names at them.

I don’t like to leave Ruby upstairs alone, so I usually put Oreo with her. This has had dire consequences for Oreo.

Photo of the bottom of a door. There is a black and white cat head sticking out from underneath it. The cat head looks saaaaaad.

Yes. That IS Oreo’s head stuck under the door to my bedroom.

Evidently, Oreo was going to tunnel out.

I sent Sam for the camera as I rushed to save her. I don’t know what she was thinking. Very clearly she has no concept of her giant body. She was like Winnie the Pooh stuck in the honey pot. And just like Winnie the Pooh, it was difficult to get her out.

I couldn’t jam her head back through so I had to slide her over to the edge of the door to free her. Unfortunately, her body was acting as a wedge, so it was hard to to push the door open enough to give her head room to slide out. It was a whole thing. A whole hilariously tragic thing.

She’s okay. She’s embarrassed, but she’s okay.

We won’t be using that door to confine Oreo anymore.

So now you have the whole story of The Great Kitten Schism of 2015. It turns out that there is a downside to having five cats. I KNOW. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?

I will say, however, that our goal in getting the two additional cats was that there would always be a cat within arms’ reach. I was going to say mission accomplished, but as I write this, there is no cat anywhere within sight. With all we’ve done to make these animals happy, that is some buuuuullshit.

These five cats are seriously lucky that they are so individually delightful because as a group, they are a huuuuuuuuge problem.

20 thoughts on “The Kitten Schism

  1. In our house, it’s dogs v. cats. (Well, now just one cat, sadly, but that’s not the point here.) Baby gate at the bottom of the steps keeps dogs downstairs, and cat/s never come downstairs. We thought this would be a temporary thing . . . NINE YEARS AGO when the first dog came home. But no. The cat/s want nothing to do with the dogs, and so here we are, opening a gate every time we want to go upstairs.

    I.e.: You are not alone.

    • We had cats and dogs for a while and they never got along. I would look at other people’s photos of their cats and dogs sleeping together and wonder why not my cats and dogs? But, yeah, basically the same deal as you.

  2. You made me LOL and I had to LOL into a pillow because my aunt and uncle are asleep in the next room! Your kitties are goofy! We have two right now, but one is moving to Ecuador in a few weeks. I am trying to convince my uncle to let me get another one to replace the expat cat!

  3. Favorite parts:

    1. The photo with two little white kitten heads poking up.
    2. When it is revealed that they are CARRIED up and down stairs, and there is a picture of Alex doing it.
    3. “Seriously. We had a whole conversation about Ruby’s right to self-determination before we decided the kittens had a right to not be bitten on the ass every day and we started stuffing pills into Ruby.”

  4. I shouldn’t laugh at poor Oreo. How did Oreo manage that?! The world may never know. Thank you for sharing this with us. I needed a good chuckle…and I got one. :)

  5. We used to have an older cat and three kittens, and older one did not like the newbies. She didn’t try to eat them, but there was rarely affection.

    Have you tried the trick of rubbing their scent on Ruby? Get a blanket or towel they have slept on and rub it on Ruby. It might help. The other thing is you have to show that you are alpha cat. I don’t mean ‘be mean’ or anything, but it is your house, not hers, and maybe if she is not the alpha, she will calm down.

  6. My relatives were in this situation a decade ago when they added a new cat to their 3 cat household. I don’t use “literally” liberally, but…
    One cat hates new addition, one fine, one semi-annoyed? Check. Angry cat chases/swats/bites new cat? Check. Multiple behavior mod solutions tried over a period of months? Check. New cat eventually relegated to parents’ bedroom? Check.
    Unfortunately it never got better. New cat (Oni, named after an anime or video game character I believe) was in the bedroom for years. Angry cat (Stormy) snuck in and bit new cat badly. The wound got infected and a shunt/drain and high dose antibiotics were necessary. She never fully recovered.
    Sorry for the depressing conclusion. As the owner of 2 cats and a dog (all adopted at different times) I wish I had advice.

  7. you have bedroom cats, and you are complaining? Seriously- bedroom cats. Just for the bedroom.

    Meanwhile, my feet are being attacked. At 1:30 in teh morning. By TWO cats.

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