Wednesday, July 20, 2016

War has broken out in the Ashbury household. Like most wars, it’s over “territory”, more or less. The piece of real estate under dispute is that space of my writing desk between my computer monitor and the tower. The two combatants are the dog and the cat. I must tell you it is a war of aggression started by the cat.

Now, shortly after this cat came to live with us (you may recall she just showed up one day), she decided that her place would be on the desk. That was fine, the dog we had at the time was a big dog, one that weighed over seventy pounds and had no interest in being that close to me—unless of course, there were fireworks being set off in the neighborhood. When that happened he wanted to be not only close to me but under me.

After a few weeks, Puddy, as she is now called (a name which beats Scary Kitty or Spooky Kitty, the names she was dubbed with when she found us), tired of that place on my desk, and found softer, more luxurious surfaces to sleep the day away upon. But she wouldn’t stay in one place too long. The sofa, one of the chairs in the living room, a kitchen chair, and the top of the wicker chest in my office all took their turns—as did the bathroom counter and at one point, the bathroom sink. Sometimes she’d want to come to the bed, but mostly not. It seemed like she would sleep in one area for several days, and move on to the next. Rarely did she avail herself of that original place on my desk, but I kept the towel there, just in case.

Then times changed, we lost our old dog and eventually adopted Mr. Tuffy. He had a baby playpen which we’d bought for him, our version of a “crate” and that worked well. It was portable and I’d have it in the office in the morning, and in living room in the afternoon. Yes, that worked, until our daughter eschewed the use of it entirely the first time we went to a conference after he became a member of the family and she stayed here. Since the cat didn’t seem to care for it anymore, I began to put him on the desk. He loves the desk! He can be close to me, sleep, and of course keep an eye on the outside, on guard, if you will—since there’s a window right there.

We bought him a bed after Christmas last December, and put it on the floor in the office. At that time, Mr. Ashbury still had his computer in this room, and if we were both web surfing at night, Tuffy often wanted the bed which though on the floor was positioned exactly between us.

The first sign of feline aggression came shortly after we got that bed. Puddy decided that it would make a better Puddy bed than it did a Tuffy bed. Just a note here, Tuffy weighs seven pounds, and Puddy twenty-five. So when Tuffy trotted over to get in his bed one evening…there was Puddy. She just fits in the bed, but obviously decreed it was hers. For that day, anyway.

This continued off and on for a few months. One day about two months ago, Mr. Tuffy was minding his own business, on duty, as it were on the desk (sleeping, but there, ready just in case) …when from out of nowhere the cat leapt from the floor beside me, up, past me, and landed on the desk, beyond the keyboard, a perfect Puddy landing. She didn’t land on the dog, a good thing, because she could seriously have hurt the little guy. We’d come home from being out (Tuffy always goes with us or goes to our daughter so if we’re out so is he) and discovered her there on the desk; this was the first time, however, she pulled a full frontal assault, while the territory was occupied.

Then she turned her patented Puddy stink eye on him, and Tuffy proved he’s not stupid. He got up and asked, in his own way, ears down and head bowed, for me to lift him off the desk. I asked him if he was going to just surrender his territory so easily? Apparently that was a question he deemed rhetorical.

This happens now at least once a week. And when it does, there’s no growling from him, and no clawing from the cat (she came to us with her front paws declawed), but the tension here can be high. I’ve done what I can to protect the Tuffy space from attack as I work away, here. But I must say it’s damned disconcerting when Puddy decides she wants the desk, because what she wants, she takes.

Though heavy, and old, she can still exert her position as head of household when she’s in the mood to do so. This only reasserts that basic law of nature: dogs have masters, cats have staff.


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