Getting Along

This last weekend marked a grand occasion: Grendel and Caliban cuddled.

As stated in past posts: our older black cat didn’t much care for the addition of a younger black cat to the family. She’s never hurt him, but hissing is fairly common. Cal could care less and tends to go about his business as if she’s just being crazy for making such a big deal out of things. They enjoy chasing one another around the apartment from time to time and even play fighting, but they’ve never cuddled.

Surprise struck then on Sunday. Caliban had been napping for a good hour or so with Fafnir on the lazy-boy. Caliban in his usual tight ball and Fafnir sprawling out to fill the rest of the space in his very-dignified manner:


Then after Caliban woke up and realized Nate and I were no longer in the living room, but had moved to the dining room, he got up and trotted in to join us. Grendel was occupying the window perch–which is one of his favorite spots since it gives him a great vantage point of the bird-filled bush below. Instead of sitting on the vast empty expanse to Grendel’s right, he hopped up and squished himself on her left on top of a lamp and some notebooks.

We expected Grendel to wake up and give him a good smack in the head for encroaching, but to our astonishment, after Caliban chirped a few times, Grendel woke up, re-positioned herself to face him, and started grooming him!

Now it’s possible she was well behaved because she was too tired to care, but I’m crossing my fingers that this the beginning of an awesome black cat duo instead. They stayed like that for awhile, though it looked a bit like Cal had been decapitated.


Lions & House Cats

This past weekend I went to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (aka the National Zoo) and had a chance to watch the lions.

Remember awhile back when a scientific study of feline behavior found similarities between house cats and lions? (And then a bunch of people picked up and ran with the idea–disregarded the study’s real findings–and claimed your cat wanted to eat you?). Well, my cats aren’t plotting my demise, but while I was watching the lions I couldn’t help seeing large muscular versions of my house cats.

Here was a lioness who wanted to get back into her indoor enclosure:

And here is Fafnir wanting to be let in from our porch:


Caliban 2


Update: He’s staying.

The little bundle of adorable black fluff has cuddled up in our hearts and can no longer be trusted to the care of anyone else. Faced with a ball of cuteness that purrs like a motor boat when held, curls up in our laps for a nap when we’re reading on the couch, and who has become better at fetch than Fafnir–there is no longer any choice but to accept him as a permanent resident.

The decision was made weeks ago, but life has been busy. My phone’s camera folder has been filling up with pictures and videos, though, and now that I have an open Sunday afternoon, it seems like the best time to recap what has been happening and share some of the documented cuteness. I tried to group them in some kind of coherent order, but it’s mostly just chronological.

* * *

First step towards integration: letting Caliban out from his seclusion in the bathroom and allowing him to interact with our other cats. Caliban took it in woobly kitten strides.

(The “hey” from me in the video was to stop Fafnir from grooming Caliban, who wasn’t in the all-clear for worms yet.)

The sounds you here in the above are Fafnir, not Caliban. It took us a few incidents to figure it out since Fafnir had never meowed like that before. I kept rushing into the room thinking Fafnir was hurting Caliban at which point they always scattered. It took being in the room already to realize Fafnir was the one vocalizing to get Cal to play with him. He’d most often “scream” before Cal had even finished a jump.

As much fun as they were having, there were still times when Fafnir’s energy wasn’t quiet up to matching that of a kitten. At which point, Caliban usually went after his tail.

Nate knew he wanted to keep Caliban as soon as he brought him home. Fafnir accepted him at first sniff. I melted after a bit over a week (I loved him right away–I mean, duh, a kitten!–but the whole idea of keeping 3 cats took longer to accept). Our female Grendel, however, took a bit more time to decide if she would put up with him.

She never bit or scratch him, but there was plenty of suspicious hissing and a few well-aimed smacks of the paw when he got too friendly with her. Caliban didn’t appear to mind. As skittish as he was starting out with us–and still is with any human visitors–he has always been eager to befriend other cats.

One of the funniest early-day interactions between all our cats was when Grendel was trying to come through the crack in the bathroom door (to steal Cal’s food) and Caliban decided to just run under her legs to get through the narrow opening. Grendel leap right in the air in surprise, hissed, and fled, but Caliban didn’t give her a second glance and trotted on to his food bowl.

In the above, Grendel isn’t hiding in a litter box. It’s just a litter box lid that we’d left out and she’d decided she liked hiding in.

She still hisses at him sometimes–mostly when he decides to interrupt her naps or accidentally jumps onto her in the climbing tree–but they now play with one another, will sleep in the same area (though she won’t cuddle with him like Fafnir does) and for now, I call it a cat family at peace.

Caliban can keep himself pretty occupied too, and enjoys playing with Nate and I. Grendel and Fafnir, usually exhausted and hiding up in a perch somewhere by the afternoon, much certainly appear to appreciate some alone time.

Fafnir keeps Caliban pretty clean. While Grendel was still hissing over Cal smelling like the vet after he came back from his latest shots, Fafnir immediately went to work grooming him down.

Caliban has not been able to join the Fafnir and Grendel grooming parties. But he doesn’t appear to mind much.

Caliban REALLY likes watching computer screens and after a few cat-on-keyboard incidents, he’s learned to just watch and not try to catch the mouse. He makes a good study-buddy.

That is, assuming I don’t stop my homework to try documenting how cute he looks when he falls asleep.


Caliban tends to have two states of being (like many kittens). Playing and sleeping.

Caliban also has a thing for catnip.

As I mentioned above, he has also learned fetch. Fafnir plays fetch with the feather toy or hair ties, but Caliban prefers his catnip-stuff beaver toy (it came free in the “Kitten Kit” we got from the vet). Any of his mice toys work as well.

Like with Fafnir, I “taught” him fetch by modifying his already existing playing behavior. I noticed he was intentionally bringing his toys to one spot to play and I stepped into that spot so that he would be bringing it back to me. Grendel’s never shown this behavior, so she has yet to learn fetch.

Fafnir would put hair ties on the end table because they’d glide better when he bat them and he could “chase” them when they fell over the edge. Caliban preferred dropping his mice in a shoe box lid, so he could bat them in and out of it.

I stood by the shoebox lid, threw the toys out, and he would trot it back to me. After awhile, he started to equate me, not the lid, with the game. Although, he still prefers bringing toys to the bedroom since our current routine usually involves throwing his toy for him while we get dressed in the morning after our run.

And lastly, to wrap this massive gathering of photos and videos up. Caliban being adorable:

And falling asleep.