Our cats are exhibiting “tribal” behaviour

I have written at length about the interaction of house cats when families move in together, but I recently saw an unusual and quite encouraging organizational development in our four-cat family.

Gretchen and I were trimming our female cat’s claws. This is not major surgery, nor is it painful, but Buffy is well-skilled at playing the victim card. After the first few seconds, she gave out an outraged squall that sounded like the sound track of a horror movie. I was holding Buffy and splaying her paws while Gretchen was doing the actual clipping. I might add here that Gretchen was only clipping the very extremities of the claws, where they were curling back on themselves from lack of wear.

We kept on clipping as the rest of the cats gathered worriedly around us. I tried to reassure them that we meant well, but they would not have it. The two male cats started clawing at us as we were trimming the last of Buffy’s claws. Buffy was now alternating growling and hissing furiously as the other cats moved in. (I was ready for feline levitation with an accompanying 360 degree revolution of the head at any minute)

Gretchen’s daughter Marjorie reached to remove her large black and white male from the scene and it bit her!

Meanwhile, Sherman, our male cat, was sinking claws in Gretchen’s leg in response to Buffy’s squalling.

All calmed down quickly when we put Buffy down on the floor with nothing damaged but her dignity. She was not grateful for the support of the other cats, in fact, she spat at them, probably thinking they were out to get her.

We, on the other hand, had never seen this kind of behavior in house cats and were very impressed that the large black and white male cat, who is visiting, would have taken responsibility for the protection of one of our cats. It looks like the organizational consolidation is complete and the cats now consider themselves to be a group and they act in unison when faced with danger. The cats have a new leader and fortunately he is protective of his flock, as opposed to being a bully.

We gave him a lot of praise for his actions.

By the way, just to give you some perspective on the claw-clipping, Marjorie had just completed clipping her Black and White cat’s claws only minutes before and he sat unconcernedly all through the process while Buffy looked on.

She is a drama queen of the highest order. If she could use the Internet, we would have gotten calls from PETA, I am sure.

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