Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Cats Won't Share (My Lap)

People say cats aren't social, but my cats like each other. The two older cats, Fatty and Max, grew up together as kittens. I got Max when Fatty was about nine months old. I was struggling, at the time, with Fatty's behavioral issues. He liked to bite. Don't get me wrong; he still likes to bite. For the past five-plus years, the following scenario has played out over and over again when a guest has visited my home:

Fatty: *approaches guest with friendly body language and rubs up against them*

Guest: Aw, what a nice cat! *reaches to pet Fatty*

Me; Be careful, he bites!

Guest: Oh, this cat wouldn't --

Fatty: *bites*


Me: What did I just say.

I got Fatty when he was only about three weeks old, and I brought him up myself as an only kitten. From my research, I have learned that only kittens tend to get bitey because they aren't properly socialized with other kittens. That is, they don't have the opportunity to get bitten back. This valuable experience teaches them that biting hurts, so they learn to knock it off.

So, when Fatty was a kitten, he demonstrated what they call play aggression. He bit me, he bit my guests, and when he thought I wasn't paying him enough attention, he crept up behind me, leapt up into the air, and sank his teeth into my slowly-expanding ass. The solution, I was told, was to get another cat, so that he would have someone else to bite instead of me. I resisted this for a while, because I didn't want another cat, but finally I got Max. Max was three months old when I brought him home, and for Fatty, it was love at first sight.

Fatty and Max love each other. They can often be found cuddling together in the coveted easy chair. They play together, racing around the house, wrestling, play-fighting. Though it took a few weeks, they both eventually warmed up to the presence of their new baby nephew, Little, and now respond to his exuberant and frequent flying tackles with exasperated resignation. But for some reason I still can't fathom, they refuse to sit together on my lap.

If a cat is already on my lap, it will get up immediately when a second cat appears. Though they constantly cuddle with each other, cuddling with each other *and me* and the same time has always seemed to be taking things too far. But things are changing. 

Little has been monopolizing lap time lately, and I can tell that the big cats are considering the loosening of lap restrictions. Fatty has no shame; if he wants to sit on my lap, he'll sit on my lap, and if there happens to be a kitten already in my lap, he's sitting on a kitten, too. Little, for his part, interprets this as affection. It is not.

Max is more reluctant to abandon the status quo, but I can tell that he's been thinking about it. At my coaxing, he jumps into my lap, lets himself be petted for a minute, and then stares with disgust at the sleeping kitten before running away. Maybe someday soon, he'll come around.