Serving Knishes on a Silver Platter
By Abe Lerner
Introducing a Second Pet to the Family
A defining moment can transpire at any time, even at the cash register. We had gone to the local pet supply store to purchase cat food for Rocco. Pointing to a cat, Bobby asked, “Daddy, can we buy this?” Raising one cat was challenging enough. Adding another would certainly rock the boat. The initial request was met with…well, nothing. I attempted the ignore tactic. Studies have shown that less than 3% of kids will actually not try again.
“DADDY, CAN WE BUY THIS?” Junior, apparently feeling that I have hearing loss, demonstrated that indeed he is from the 97+% that are persistent. Instantly, I felt the cold stares of my fellow shoppers. Having crossed the threshold to an unacceptable decibel level, Bobby had me in a bind. Do I impart an important lesson to him, that exploiting a public setting to buy something would not be tolerated or do I cave & buy the cat? Being a responsible parent, I caved. Public humiliation, I reasoned, would hamper my ability to be a good parent (Fragile Psyche Syndrome.) Truthfully, this was all in Bobby’s best interests…
Fast food was a favorite pastime of Bobby’s. Despite my objections, it boiled down to either denying his request or facing a verbal barrage. Consistent with my overall parenting theory, I capitulated. It came as no surprise then, when he named the cat Knishes. Although definitely a unique moniker, clearly it was a reflection of Bobby’s essence (you are what you eat, right?) Knishes signified lawlessness & rebelliousness. Yup! That’s my Bobby…
Knishes was a feline version of Bobby, defiant & rambunctious. I had invested a lot of time training Rocco, & he had developed into an obedient & docile cat. He practically laid out the red carpet for Knishes, welcoming his new house mate with open arms. Knishes however, did not reciprocate in kind. Utilizing his claws & teeth, he went after Rocco &the assault was on! Rocco, the consummate gentleman, was taken aback. My initial reaction was to take Knishes back to the store, but you know who wouldn’t have any of that!
Attributing it to difficulty adapting to a new environment, I was willing to stay the course. I furnished both of my cats with its own distinctive bowl, affording them each a sense of personal pride. Additionally, I established multiple “no-fly” zones throughout the house, some areas designated for Rocco, while others were for Knishes. Knishes though, wouldn’t cede an inch of territory, violating Rocco airspace at will. Rocco began exhibiting telltale signs of depression, ceasing to interact with his human companions, as well as displaying decreased interest in his daily meals. Bringing Knishes into our lives was undoubtedly having a negative impact on Rocco. I had a dilemma on my hands & I needed to find a solution ASAP!
Researching cat behavior patterns, I began analyzing our predicament. Cats are a territorial species, defending their turf, protecting their space. While many cats adjust to new surroundings or mates, some cats feel an invasion of their privacy, when forced to share limited living quarters with others. Could it be, that Rocco was the former & Knishes the latter? Rocco had been exceedingly cooperative in greeting Knishes, whereas Knishes was in rejection mode throughout.
Then it hit me! I had actually exacerbated the problem, by allocating them separate pieces of real estate within the house, & even worse, by providing them with contrasting bowls. Instead of creating an atmosphere where they’d be equivalent in stature, I had done the exact opposite. In a sense, I had added fuel to the fire, by outfitting Knishes with what he had perceived as an inferior bowl & a substandard property. In his mind, he was being treated as a second class citizen, which he resented. I was determined to rectify my wrong, & hopefully get things back on track.
I went back to the pet supply store, & purchased identical cat bowls, without any lettering on them. There were no favorites here-Rocco & Knishes were to be treated equally. Additionally, I opened up “the borders”, allowing them to freely roam throughout the house. It took a bit of patience, but after a few weeks there was a marked improvement in Knishes’ demeanor, as his penchant for fighting began to diminish. He began interacting more with Rocco, & calm was eventually restored. I had successfully instituted a truce that truly held up.
Although proud of my pet parenting accomplishments, turning Knishes in the right direction, I remained with one disturbing thought. Why haven’t I found the solution yet to raising Bobby?
Abe Lerner is a member of the pack at NutralifePet, a division of Nutralife Health Products, Inc., which has been selling high quality dietary supplements since 1996. NutralifePet, the manufacturer of Ultra Joint & Liver Support with SAM-e for dogs and cats, caters to the individual needs of each pet. NutralifePet…caring about animals, one pet at a time…