Sookie and Miles have been companions for almost four years. I adopted Sookie for him because Bella wanted nothing to do with his youthful exuberance. He loved Sookie immediately and they have been sharing food, naps, wrestling matches, and grooming ever since.
When Birdie came in to the house, we went through an adjustment period of a couple of months. She was aggressive and not used to other cats that she was supposed to get along with. Miles would shy away from her wild smacking and screaming while Sookie would tolerate it up to a point, then give Birdie a claws extended smack to put her in her place. That was as aggressive as Sookie got. Her relationship with Miles was loving and playful and she seemed to be making friends with Bella a project.
As the old lady cat, Bella would spend most of the day in my bedroom napping, only emerging for meals and the occasional social outing. At mealtimes, she was generally the last to arrive and Sookie would run to greet her, squeaking, and attempting to touch noses. During nap times, I would often find Sookie attempting to sleep as close to Bella as she could, progressively edging closer so maybe a paw or their backs touched. I always thought that Bella secretly liked the company and just pretended to not notice the contact in order to keep up her grumpy reputation. I also wonder if Bella’s passing has affected Sookie in some way; she has lost a friend of sorts.
With the introduction of Olivia, the dynamic has shifted again. My ever tolerant Miles accepted her from the beginning and Olivia throws herself at him daily. Recently, there have been wrestling matches and grooming between the two of them. Birdie after an initial need to smack, has also accepted Olivia. They race around the house after each other and I have seen Birdie groom Olivia’s forehead and bite her ears. Weird, but it seemed to translate as affection.
Despite Olivia’s good fortune with Birdie and Miles, Sookie seems to see her as an interloper and goes out her way to hiss, scream, and smack at the cowering kitten. I question if this is a response to Miles and Olivia’s relationship. Certainly a human woman would be enraged to find her long term male companion giving attention to a new and younger female. Unfortunately, this anger has affected Miles and Sookie’s relationship.
This morning Sookie cornered Olivia to hiss and growl at her for no apparent reason other than her existence. Miles who was close by, stepped behind Sookie who immediately whirled on him with a raised paw and a growl. He jerked back somewhat surprised. Sookie walked away from the group to sit on the other side of the room.
A minute later, Miles followed and stopped a few inches from her. Sookie approached him, and in her usual manner dipped her head to him. This is her indication that she wants groomed. However Miles stopped her with a paw placed on her shoulder. She tried the head dip again. He put her off again. She placed herself closer, face to face with him and let out an extended high pitched mew that I’ve never heard her use before. I couldn’t tell if it was anger, frustration, or that ever female question: ” Why?” The mew again, but then a noise or movement somewhere else in the house gave them the excuse to be “distracted” and ignore an uncomfortable conversation.
Sookie has always been an odd cat. For all the love she has given Miles over the years, I only receive and am able to reciprocate affection with her if I am sitting or laying down and she chooses to approach. I cannot casually walk up to her and pet her without her running as if from axe murderers. Making contact with her at least once a day is the goal, but it’s a challenge and she seems to hate it unless it was her idea. She has voluntarily crawled on to my lap about three times in her life and one of those times was definitely because Miles was sick and in solitary confinement.
Although we are going on three months of Bella being gone and Olivia being in the house, I hold out hope that the tensions will ease before the relationships are beyond repair. I don’t want Sookie to become that angry, solitary cat that no one can love without losing a hand.