I’ve been observing the other animals’ reactions and responses to Bryn’s and my entry into their lives.
A few weeks ago Bryn had made a rare objection to my leaving her outside in the car after she’d seen what was inside the barn the visit before that one. Exclusion from such a thrilling new world was simply- unthinkable, and she’d dared to express her appalled disappointment in a powerful way. Deeply impressed by the incredulity that rode on those two long wails, I’d re-assessed, and made the change after checking with the Farm boss.
She repeatedly warned me that her cat greatly enjoys stalking, then attacking, unsuspecting dogs. It’s his raison d’etre. Well-behaved Bryn was welcome, but with that fair warning in mind.
I decided to take my cat-reaction cues from Bryn by noting her facial changes and tail positions. There is a ton of information there.
Bryn’s warm blue fleece coat has altered her appearance, making an interesting visual change for the horses. Every equine who was led past her took a long look.
I was riding Menesson in the arena, practicing trotting without stirrups, when he sent subtle signals to me that he wanted to inspect Bryn, who was tethered to the viewing bench in the arena. He’d noticed the strange change immediately and found it- disconcerting.
That was fine with me. We trotted over to her and I sat still, waiting.
The two friends touched noses. Then he sniffed her everywhere.
Menesson understands coats. Every horse in this big barn wears a thick one to ward off the intense cold. It was a reminder for me that horses notice everything. Every. Single. Thing. To be alert to change of any kind is a survival skill that all prey animals rely on.
I should have shown him Bryn’s garb before I mounted. My bad.
Having recognized what it was he blew out and relaxed; the two bumped noses again and he nuzzled Bryn’s muzzle before moving off, satisfied.
She was delighted with the exchange.
Louie, the very bright stable cat who’s made the entire stable his fiefdom, has two problems with the latest change in his routine.
Firstly, the new dog has consistently ignored this good-sized, handsome black-and-white Self. That realization really bothers him.
Cats are never ignored.
Bryn might acknowledge Sir Cat down the road, but for now, Louie’s had to be content with performing his ‘spooky action at a distance’ routine again and again. (Making himself shadow-flat he silently oooozes toward her, snail-slowly, occasionally disappearing behind blankets and furniture before reappearing abruptly, mere inches away, which elicits doggie ‘shock and awe,’ which nicely triggers his clawed leap! It’s always been a winning strategy.)
But, Bryn doesn’t respond to these ‘you’re toast, Buster’ cues. It’s exasperating! She doesn’t twitch, doesn’t change position or even gaze down at him, though Louie’s scent fills her nose. In fact, he worries that his masterful stalks have not been perceived at all!
To be made irrelevant is completely outside his purrview.
It makes him crazy.
Perhaps he should look at this odd dog more carefully before leaping. His usual approach may require- revision. (And, what’s with that coat, anyway?? Is it claw-proof?)
Louie is off-balance...uncertain...
Uncertainty irritates him! He’s a CAT. Cats are never uncertain.
His famous ‘Louie-Bomb,’ followed by the most satisfying chaos, has always provided huge personal amusement, while also making clear his Superior Position here.
But, this time, might the Usual Way backfire in some way?
When baffled, a proper cat assumes supreme disinterest, even boredom, perhaps by cleaning one’s paws, or ‘taking a nap,’ while actually pondering the situation.
Never show weakness.
I constitute his second problem. Louie is greatly annoyed by my dogged refusal to touch him, or to succumb to the ‘I claim you’ cat-cologne he rubs onto my lower pant leg. Everyone else scoops him up and invites him to nestle nicely in their laps so that they may gently stroke him.
He is, after all, a truly splendid cat.
dogs have family.
Cats have Staff.
So, why won’t I serve?
He’s very, very insistent, punctuating his demand for my full attention with irritated meows (a sound, by the way, that cats reserve exclusively for humans) while trotting barely one inch from my moving body, and even with the vigorous dissemination of his personal scent on my bare hand when I reach down to adjust my boots or add spurs. Crossing that boldly into my personal space earns him only an annoyed Look and a slow headshake.
I remain as silent and aloof as Bryn.
Louie is data-starved.
His eyes narrow.
He considers me another challenge. An enigma. A puzzle.
Frustration fills his elegantly whiskered, expressive face.
I have no idea how this fascinating ‘cat-and-me’ game will play out.
Instinct, though, tells me to continue doing what Bryn is doing...and then,
we three will see what develops.