On Being First Time Cat Owners
I'd like to introduce everyone to our new friend Bagheera. Unlike the other cats we care for Bagheera is our own and it is the first time we've owned a cat. You might think that being pet professionals prepares us for pet ownership but it can't. Ownership is different than care taking. We are care takers of others' pets while they are out of town or busy at work. We spend bite sized portions of time with the pets entrusted in our care and while we build deep and meaningful relationships with the pets we care for ownership is an entirely different animal (pun intended).
Bagheera is a sweet, affectionate, playful kitty which makes a lot of this easier than if he were skittish or scared or any other emotion that could lead to him needing more time to adjust to his new home. The background on how we came to own Bagheera has to do with our pet sitting. I love Disney movies, as do most people, and Lady and the Tramp has always been one of my favorites. So a week before getting Bagheera I finally got to opportunity to take care of a couple Siamese cats and they were indeed Siamese if I pleased and Siamese if I didn't. In other words it was a load of fun and then the client whose cats I took care of posted on Next Door that a Siamese related to her's was having issues being accepted in his new home by the cat that was currently in residence. I'd previously mentioned a couple times to Lara that our next dog would be a cat and here was an opportunity to get a rare and special cat and I jumped at it, and by jumped I consulted my wife, my father, and slept on it.
Because we've only ever owned dogs my experience with training a cat is limited to the few episodes of My Cat From Hell I've caught on Animal Planet. Lara and I also did volunteer at the The Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center when we first moved down here and took their cat handling class, plus the hundreds of cats we've cared for as professional pet sitters. So I can't say our knowledge base is completely at zero but even over the couple days we've had Bagheera in our home we've seen that cat ownership is an entirely different deal than cat care taking.
One of the main issues, or really the only issue, we're dealing with is our over excited hound dog who is eight going on two really wants to meet and play with Bagheera. Bagheera on the other hand is still adjusting to his new home and isn't too keen to play with an energetic creature that is ten times his size. We are currently separating them and have made our laundry room the cat area with vertical space for Bagheera to escape to if Riley gets through all our other defenses. Bagheera lived with dogs before and Riley has lived with cats. We know once they get through the initial introduction they'll be fine and in all likelihood the tables will turn and it will be Bagheera annoying and wearing out Riley with the constant desire to play.
There is no education on this planet that beats experience and the best experience is immersive. so while we've dealt with cats in a professional setting all those cats were already in homes they were adjusted to and if they had a dog they either knew how to avoid to coexist or they were friends and playmates. Bagheera is still getting the lay of the land and learning his new environment and finding his place in it. Riley is an establishment in our household and is curious about the new addition and a bit jealous that attention is being taken away from him. New situations take time to work themselves out and this personal experience (much like dealing with Riley's separation anxiety) will ultimately make us better in our professional capacity.