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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Meeting of the Collective Mind: Charlie & Munchie

The Meeting of the Collective Mind: Charlie & Munchie

Charlie & Munchie: claiming turf

Charlie and Munchie met, literally face-to-face the other day. Oh they had seen each other in passing, when Munchie slunk into the bathroom or back to the bedroom, or when the bedroom door was left ajar by accident. But the first actual meeting of the collective mind took place just a week or so ago.

Just a bit of background: Munchie had never really been exposed to dogs, except my dog Brandi, who moved here 7 years ago when Munchie was a lot younger. At that point, Munchkin had another older "brother," Saturday, to sleep and interact with. When my two cats moved here 3 months later, things really started getting lively! As you can imagine, having a 4-cat, 1 dog-household was interesting (to say the least!) Saturday and Munchie had been pals pretty much their whole lives. Kiki and Muffy had been buddies for most of their lives. The dominant cats, Saturday (Mike's cat) and Kiki (my cat) established an almost instant truce. This was not really the case with Muffy and Munchie. Theirs was an uneasy peace, made even more so when first Brandi-dog (who ruled the roost at age 17), Saturday (aged 13) and Kiki (aged 16) passed away in rather short order.  Munchie settled down to selecting his turf with Muffy and she settled down to being a much more cuddly and loving cat with us. Then, not that long ago, Muffy also passed away at the ripe old age of 16 years, leaving Munchie to enjoy all the love, attention and catering that 4 cats and a dog had previously gotten, combined. To put it bluntly, he got just a little spoiled.

Thrust Charlie into that situation and it could have been pretty sad, had we not taken it slowly. Munchie had chosen the bedroom as his area when we moved into this apartment. We respected that, placing his food, toys and water in there and keeping the door closed so Charlie wouldn't bound in unexpectedly. Munchie preferred moving between there and the bathroom (litter box), so we kept the bathroom door closed, too. Charlie had the run of the rest of the house. Once the hissing and growling stopped when they saw each other (after about 3 weeks), we started leaving the bedroom door open. Charlie would lie in the bedroom doorway simply watching Munchie sleep. Or he would lurk in the bathroom doorway, watching Munchie in the box (as in the photo of their first interaction),  Munchie would perk up from a nap on his box by the window to watch Charlie outside the window when he went for walks. All seems relatively calm.

There still are some exciting moments, though. Whenever we pick Munchie up to bring him to the litter box (when Charlie is particularly rambunctious), Charlie can now jump so high that he tries to grab hold of Munchie's tail to play. Munchie still responds with a hiss and it's high antics with one person trying to do the gymnastics to hold a strong little dog back and put a cat in the room where he wants to go. As soon as Munchie is down on the ground, Charlie settles right back down again. I wonder if he was a "cat herder" in a previous life? Charlie knows the sound of the bedroom door, and if it's been closed, he's there like a shot, "smiling" and ready for fun when he hears it squeak open. We still keep the door closed at night - neither of us in ready to have a rowdy dog and hissing cat run across our faces during the night!

Munchie is getting braver. When it's quiet in the house, he'll come out of the bedroom and visit with Mike. Or he will come to me for a scratch and a "good kitty," He now walks, not runs, from the bedroom to the litter box if Charlie is otherwise occupied. One time, he and Charlie were both with Mike, on either side of him, for a brief time, which was really something to see. Charlie is learning to obey. "No," as does a child, and it is now part of his aural vocabulary. It doesn't always mean he'll listen, but he is getting much better at respecting that command. 

There's peace in the Valley and it's a good thing. We still see the possibility of the two of them getting along. With Munchkin's nature, it probably will never be a "friendship" of the sorts that Brandi had with my two cats, but it will be a peaceful coexistence. Sometimes that's the best for which you can hope.

(Next time: Charlie's first bath)

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