Balancing act


Every time I think all is well in my peaceable kingdom, something happens to upset the balance. For years, it was just my three cats, Nomie, Alaska and Sasquatch. While not always the best of buds, they all co-existed quite peaceably, with the occasional spat over who got what spot on the bed at night.

Then a year ago, I tried to introduce Tangerine O’Feral into the household. She adjusted to the other cats much better than she ever did to me. During the day, I would catch her chilling with the other three on the bed, but if I got too near she would head under the bed. I told people I had three and a half cats, since to admit to having four would make me a card-carrying member of the Cat Lady Society.

Shortly after I moved into this house last Spring, Tangerine found an escape route and took advantage of it. I didn’t see her for another several weeks. Eventually, she joined the rest of her feral family and showed up for the twice daily feedings. Unfortunately, she was never fully accepted back, but they tolerated having her near. Inside, while Sasquatch seemed to miss Tangerine, the balance was once again restored.

This summer my beloved Miss Nomer got very ill, made a bit of recovery, and then suddenly relapsed and died. The balance was once again upset, but since Nomie was really a people’s cat vs a cat’s cat, it didn’t take long for the remaining two to recover (though I still miss her like crazy). A month later, a little red bunny hops in our lives and a home is made for him in the sun room.

It has taken several months for Mr. Binkles to have free roam of the house, without any barriers. While his pen remains in the sun room, he has figured out how to let himself out whenever he wants to. At first this was a real battle of wits, as I didn’t want him having free range of the house since he had the bad habit of leaving little calling cards on the furniture. There was a period where he was only allowed in rooms with non-upholstered furniture – the dining room, kitchen office and bathroom. Eventually, as the last of his hormones settled down, he no longer feels the need to poop on everything to establish his territory, so he has free range of the house now. His litter box manners are almost perfect, but he has the most disconcerting habit of following me whenever he sees me going into the bathroom, and then jumping into the cat’s litter box to pee whenever I do likewise. I suppose I should be flattered? Anyway . . . he does, however, get penned up at night as there is nothing quite as alarming as waking up to a rabbit nose and those big pointy teeth inches away from your face.

But, today the balance is once again upset. Tangerine is back in the house. My neighbor noticed that Tangerine had a weeping wound on her side and suggested I take her into the vet and have it looked at. Good thing I did, as she has a big ol’ infection. The vet had to create two big holes in order to create drainage of the pus, and now it is my job for the next week to keep those wounds open and apply warm compresses and give her antibiotics. So, now do I not only have a feral back in my house, she is a wounded feral that needs hands-on nursing.

So, for the next week, the office is the cat infirmary, and off limits to the other cats and rabbit. They are not pleased. But, once again a balance will be found. It always is.


5 responses »

  1. I am very curious about how you got Mr Binkles to use the litter box. We wouldn’t even really mind picking up the poop because it is so small and dry, but rabbit pee… ick.

    Our bunny is causing all manner of consternation in the house because she is quite nocturnal and crashes around her cage, kicking and making quite a ruckus and no matter where we put it, it reverberates throughout the house. I think if we could keep her loose in a hallway she could jump and run as much as she likes, and would be less noisy. But it has carpeting and we do not like the idea of rabbit pee in the carpet. Advice, lazybuddhist?

  2. Hi Susan —

    The House Rabbit Society has some good tips on litter box training your rabbit, which is what I followed: Also, since I believe you are also in the East Bay, the HQ of the House Rabbit Society is in Richmond, and during office hours is staffed by volunteers who are quite savvy about rabbit behavior. (Be careful, though, lest you walk out of there committed to getting another bunny. One of the things they suggest for calming down naughty bunnies is getting another bunny.)

    I think the biggest difference was getting the little guy neutered. Before his hormones died down, he was marking everything, even though in his pen he always used his litter box.

    Mr. Binkles also used to get pretty darn noisy at night, banging his pen demanding to be let out. Again, that has died down with time. Once all the lights are out, he figures there is no one left to play with so he eventually settles down. I would definitely give her more space if you can, but I would first start the litter box training while she is in a smaller space, that way it’s harder for her to ignore the box.

    Take heart, I thought I would never get a handle on this whole rabbit thing, and even contemplated trying to find him a good home with someone who understood rabbits. It’s taken almost six months to get to this place with him, but I’m finding it is well worth it.

    Good luck!

  3. I think it’s awesome that you take care of all these creatures. This made me laugh:

    ” I told people I had three and a half cats, since to admit to having four would make me a card-carrying member of the Cat Lady Society.”

    Also, Sasquatch is an inspired name for a pet, but Mr. Binkles… it put me in mind of this very funny story I read once of a man convinced his pets were trying to commit harikari because their honor was irreversibly tarnished by the horrifyingly cutesy nicknames that his girlfriend bestowed upon each one.

    I wish I could find that story again.

  4. Ombud – Thank you for the link to Truce. It sounds like her bunny is definitely a much sweeter bun than my little monster.

    Amurin – if I have made you laugh my work here is done.

    And I also had a laugh at the idea of the animals revolting (not sure if I want them offing themselves)due to the indignities of their overly cute names. I never thought Mr. Binkles fit into that category, but I fear you may be correct. However, being he is such a feisty bugger, the name is almost ironic . . . almost. Nah, you’re right. It’s awfully darn cute. Do send along that story if you find it.

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