Zorro Garcia and Jamie Bluebell are both sweet cats, with unique personalities. Zorro is the quasi-feral/stray that we rescued from a cold Minnesota winter. The name Zorro came from a Catster reader; Zorro has a dark mask across his face. My husband added the “Garcia” after Jerry Garcia — we walked into the garage once when Zorro was still a stray, and still uncaught and untamed, and heard Zorro wailing like a tom. The tamed Zorro is loving, crazy about us, loves being handled, and adores and seeks any attention.
Jamie Bluebell was adopted (previous to Zorro’s rescue and incorporation into our household) as a kitten. She’s a beautiful shorthair with gray/blue fur and orange markings. She is also the only girl in a household (now) of six cats. Naturally, all are spayed and neutered. Jamie is named in part for another cat Jamie, and for her blue fur (don’t ask me where the bell came from). She’s a tomboyish, physical cat with the occasional spunk of a tortie and a calico, and she’s got a great sense of humor. In general, she’s pretty secure.
I didn’t hold out hope at first that these two would ever get along.
After a ton of change for everyone (a cross-country move, and the rescue of Zorro right before the move), things were pretty chaotic, but I tried to keep them as calm as possible. There was no way I was introducing Zorro right away. I had to tame him first. I isolated him, and he came around pretty quickly (we think he was once someone’s cat and hadn’t been abandoned for a real long time). Over a period of many months, I gradually introduced him to the household. The boys worked it out, and Zorro became, and still is, fast friends with Norton. But Jamie Bluebell didn’t like Zorro one bit.
In love: Two cats kissing on Valentine’s Day by Shutterstock.com’>
To be fair, Zorro was simply trying to figure out his place in the scheme of things. And that included bullying Jamie Bluebell.
Amazingly, we are on the cusp of a transformation between these two. Admittedly, I’ve used help such as Feliway, play, lots of love and attention, and the Bully Remedy from Jackson Galaxy. I’m not sure exactly what is working (or maybe I simply needed the passage of time), but these two are really making progress. Here’s how it’s gone:
1. Zorro bullies Jamie
Once Zorro was out among all (after many months of gradual introduction, etc.), he seemed to hone in on Jamie. He would chase her and she would shriek and run. He never actually harmed her physically, but she was stressed. I tried to isolate him and isolate her, as needed. I gave her my office room as her safe space, most of the time, unless she really wanted out.
2. Jamie increasingly begins to come out of the office
I was happy to see Jamie start testing the waters and begin coming out of the office more, after some time. I didn’t want her to face a life in one room! (I do have a friend with two cats, and a pretty big living space. Those two cats seem like they will never ever get along, and they must always be separate. I hoped that wouldn’t happen here.)
Two cute cats by Shutterstock.com’>
3. Jamie tests the waters and shows initiative and spunk
After some more time, I was amazed to see several instances where Jamie actually “went after” Zorro. These usually involved situations where she was in a place higher than Zorro (like a chair or a table, for example), and Zorro sauntered by on the floor. (No wonder Jackson Galaxy and behaviorists make a good case for vertical space for cats.) Jamie would actually make the first move, reaching out to swat Zorro from her perch above him. He didn’t seem to mind. At this point, he also was beginning to seem less aggressive. He might swat back, but it had the look of play rather than aggression. In fact, I noticed this in their interactions in general. The body language suggested that they were moving from aggression and fear and insecurity to … play. This made me happy!
4. My happy moment: Jamie and Zorro languidly paw at each other
I couldn’t sleep the other night, and I woke up at 3 a.m. Unable to fall asleep after trying all my tricks (yoga breathing, relaxation, etc.), I headed downstairs by the wood stove (the great cat equalizer) and rolled out a yoga mat to do a little stretching. The room was still nice and warm, and I planned to move very slowly so as not to bring myself any more awake. Then I would do a little meditation and hopefully that would do the trick.
Yoga mats are an instant cat attractant in this house, and I suddenly realized that Zorro and Jamie were both sprawled on the mat, face to face. Drowsily, in slow motion, they touched front paws. Drowsily, they batted each other. When Zorro stopped, Jamie continued anyway.
Jamie will easily be in the same room with Zorro now, and she goes wherever she wants in the house. Maybe someday, I’ll chance upon them, snuggled up and happy. We’ll see!
Only a cat person could get excited about such things. Have your cats grown friendly over time? Did it look like this? Tell me in the comments!
More by Catherine Holm:
About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.