Cat Frenemies?

Cat housemates can be the best of friends, the worst of enemies or both.

Anyone who watches them interact on a daily basis might think my cats Sparkle and Binga don’t like each other very much. Binga, the short-tempered tortoiseshell, is always trying to show Sparkle who is boss – as if that is ever going to happen! Sparkle, my dainty Somali girl who is half Binga’s size, also believes she is in charge, and she retaliates passive-aggressively. The grouchier Binga is, the more likely it is that Sparkle will rub up against and her and make her even madder. This activity is especially favored at mealtimes, and generally results in a smackfest.

It happens so often, I actually once made a video about it.

No love lost there, right? So one particular trip to the vet with Sparkle and Binga was an eye opener. Binga was having a routine examination and I brought Sparkle along because she becomes extremely hostile when the other cats return from the vet. The absence and unfamiliar smells really set her off. It’s not as bad if she accompanies Binga or Boodie, so she comes along for the ride, even though vet visits are one of her least favorite activities. She usually spends the appointment cowering in her carrier, trembling and waiting for some nameless doom to befall. But at least she doesn’t turn into an out-of-control harpie when she gets home.

Find ways to help get your cat in a carrier to visit the vet >>

While the vet examined Binga, Sparkle hunkered down in her carrier like she always does, oblivious to anything but her own worries.

“Look at this tooth,” said the vet. “It’s almost rotted away. It’ll have to come out.”

Binga had one angry, red tooth, something we had missed because of her voracious and unwavering appetite. A dental was in order and what was left of this tooth was going to have to come out.

“Let me take her to the back to collect some samples,” the doc told me.

She picked up Binga and got ready to put her in her carrier, which was sitting on the floor. Sparkle peeked out from her own carrier, her eyes wide with shock. Without hesitating, she leapt out of her safety zone and dashed over to Binga’s carrier, desperately trying to stop her from being taken away. It was an amazing act of courage coming from a cat who is paralyzed with fear at the vet clinic. The vet and I were both stunned, and a little moved. Who could have guessed these two cats shared such a strong bond?

Binga got her dental a couple of days later. Since Sparkle couldn’t come along, I staved off any hostility by liberally sprinkling both cats and carrier with catnip and trading their own feline scents with a towel. It was a rocky couple of days but it worked. Not long after, Binga and Sparkle were back to normal … smacking each other. Go figure.

Article Categories: