Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Cats' Relationship

Pushkin and Gilda are pretty good friends, now. I see their little rituals of communication. Pushkin was laying at the base of my chair. Gilda walked in and sat down. Pushkin got up into a sitting position. They each, in turn, tentatively explored getting closer, and gradually sniffed each other, culminating in the touching of noses. They sniffed backward a bit, and settled into neutral sitting poses. Gilda laid down first, signaling she was comfortable with their proximity. Then Pushkin relaxed. Gilda pushed it a little farther, slowly rolling on her side, and lifting her paw in a playful gesture. She reaches toward him tentatively a couple times, finally just touching Pushkin's chin.

"Play?" I hear her saying. But when she touches Pushkin with her paw, he recoils with a "ghrr?!". Like, "Hey, what's up with touching me?"

Other times he might run away, fight back in a gingerly fashion, or hiss. Or, he might back off, move ten or so feet away, and settle into a waiting position, on his belly with his feet under him. He might watch her for a while. In which case, she is likely to casually lick a paw or stroll away, which brings Pushkin up to a stalking crouch. Slowly he steps forward, silently, one foot at a time. At some invisible signal, he rushes toward her, and she takes off in the other direction. But when she reaches a place of cover, she settles into waiting or stalking mode. Every other chase is likely to be turn-about-fair-play.

This is not how it was when Gilda first came to us. We knew from experience that Pushkin tries to make friends with every human and animal he meets. And he know how to do it. He holds back, and approaches slowly. If he sees a negative response, he goes about his business, and tries again later.

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