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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life in the Pen

As I write this post, I'm sitting on a couch in my family room with two purring cats on my lap and two dogs sleeping soundly on either side of me. It's a peaceful scene, but it didn't happen this way by accident. In my last post, I wrote about my first steps in getting all of the animals in the house, including the new kittens, to learn how live together peacefully together.

When the story left off, the kittens had graduated from their bathroom home to being able to play in Aaron's bedroom, or in our dining room. Gates kept the dogs out, but the cats could climb over and visit, which they did.

Calvin and Elsa Clair in Aaron's room.

My next step was to set up a pen in our family room. Imagine six gates connected to each other in a hexagonal safe area. The dogs and cats could run free, but the kittens were confined to the pen. This allowed everyone to sniff freely and get used to each other; in particular, it gave the dogs a chance to see the kittens run and pounce in dog territory, but it kept the tiny furballs safe from large paws and running Moose.

I never thought the dogs would knowingly hurt the kits; I just wanted to make sure there were no accidents, and that the kittens would learn that the dogs are friendly, and wouldn't be afraid of those towering, noisy creatures.

When I brought the kittens into the pen, I (or another family member) would sit in there with them. Mostly this was because someone or another would try to escape. Remember how Elsa Clair can fly? She'd try that from the pen as well--and she is fast! To keep them amused and distracted--and therefore, theoretically less likely to bold--I would put in one of our horizontal cat scratchers for Elsa Clair and Calvin to play in, on and around. Add a few mousies and other kitty toys and it would keep them busy--for the most part.

Elsa Clair in The Pen.

Calvin lounges in the scratcher.

Standing on top of the scratcher, Elsa Clair ponders escape from The Pen.

The two kittens play on the scratcher.

Athena is about to reach through the sides of the pen, as Calvin looks on.

Calvin and Jasper have a nose-to-nose moment.

Dawn looks down on the kittens. Seriously. She looks down on them. The Queen is Not Pleased.

By now, everyone was getting quite used to everyone else. The dogs were still Very Interested in the kittens and would watch them closely. But eventually, they'd get bored. The same with Dawn and Athena. Though Athena simply didn't like the fact that there was a place she was supposed to stay out of.

Therefore, it was only a matter of time...

The pen, without kittens. When I left it open after bringing Elsa Clair and Calvin back upstairs to the bathroom/bedroom, Athena would walk in and own the space. Of course.

Stay tuned; more cats, dogs and kittens in my next post, where The Walls Come Down!

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