Cats have been a part of my life since the day I was born. There were not many times in my life when I didn’t have at least one cat in my house and those were very lonely times. Right now I have 8 cats roaming my house, all of which are rescues. Each one has a very specific personality and each one has given me more insight into cat behavior than I had ever imagined. One, though, shines above the rest and has become an incredible tutor, Sita.
It is conventional thought that cats are independent creatures and sometimes that is true. However, I have found more often than not that most cats enjoy the company of at least one other feline or some other creature. Of all the cats in my house, I have only one that would rather be alone but even sometimes I wonder if this is truly the case. Her name is Sita and she is a 4 year old Maine Coon that I rescued from the local animal shelter when she was only 3 months old. She was raised with my neighbor’s chihuahua and loved to play with that little dog. After I moved I decided that she needed some company so I rescued two 8 week old kittens, the sisters Maya and Nala. It became immediately apparent that Sita wanted nothing to do with them, preferring the companionship of dogs over cats. She did, however, grow to tolerate them and it became regular routine for her to smack each one in the head just to keep her dominance unquestioned. They learned to stay away from her. Something would happen a couple months later that would have me questioning just exactly how Sita truly felt about Maya and Nala.
When the sisters turned 6 months old I had them spayed. It meant that the girls had to spend a night away from the house. I figured Sita would love the break from them even though I would constantly worry about them until their safe return home. I was totally shocked at Sita’s actions from the time I got home without them until the next day when I brought the girls back home. The whole time Maya and Nala were gone, Sita searched from room to room looking and calling for them. She seemed truly concerned that they were missing. I was completely amazed at her reaction. I would not hesitate to say that she missed them. The next day when I returned home with the girls, Sita once again had me amazed at her actions. I brought the crate through the door and sat it on the floor. Sita began approaching from the kitchen. I opened the crate door and let the sisters out and almost died laughing when I watched them walk out of the crate and be met by Sita who proceeded to smack each one in the head before walking off to her favorite window.
Not long after this, I was at the local flea market when a friend pointed me in the direction of two young kittens that a couple were giving away. My friend told me that these kittens were not old enough to be away from their mother. I immediately went and found the two little guys and sure enough, I guessed them to only be around 4 weeks old. I asked the lady how old they were and she swore they were 8 weeks old. Worried that someone would get them with no understanding of how young they were, I decided to bring them home and take care of them until they were old enough to be adopted out. As predicted, Sita put the youngsters in their place but otherwise had nothing to do with them. Maya and Nala took on the roles of big sisters and helped to take care of the two kittens. Maya took a liking to Merlin and Nala kept an eye on Sebastian. Two weeks later, I had brought a dog into my home. Sita would once again give me some more insight into the mind of the cat when this dog attacked one of the kittens (For the whole story, please see my article “The Hero In My House”). While I battled to get the kitten out of the dog’s mouth, a large blur of gray appeared in the middle of the dog’s back. It was Sita, all teeth and claws. 13 pounds of cat attacked 80 pounds of dog to try to save the life of a kitten she acted like she could care less about. Sita reached hero status that day and I also decided to keep Merlin. Of all the cats in the house, Sita is the most tolerant of Merlin and I wonder if it has something to do with the tragic events of that day.
Over the next year and a half, several more rescues came into my home. A couple I have adopted out but most are still with me which brought the total up to 8 cats in my home. While Sita still makes sure that she maintains dominance over the rest, for the most part she stays away from them. She’s mellowed some, though, allowing Maya, Nala or Merlin to sit in the window with her or lay on my bed near her but not too close. Another cat that I have here that is really independent is Buffy, a pretty buff colored orange marmalade that was given to me from a friend who found her outside of their house. Two of the eight cats here, Tango and Spitz, are her kittens. Sally, a tortie point manx rounds out the pack. She was a rescue brought to me from southern Alabama.
Buffy was the source of another insight into the cats’ behavior. One day, Nala got too close to her and Buffy went after her with a vengeance. Before I could even yell at her I saw Maya, Sally and Merlin heading for the fighting pair with Sita in the lead. Buffy quickly backed off and hid. Although there are still a few spats involving Buffy, I think she learned a lesson that day not to mess with the pack or else she’d have all of them to contend with. She’s been trying her best to get along with them now.
Sita is also my protector. I was watching a video on my computer about wolves one day. Sita heard the wolves howling and immediately came running in and sat in front of me. There was no doubt by her stance that she was on guard and ready for action should the need arise. She also is very sensitive to when I’m not feeling good or upset. Always there to lend comfort when I need it. One night I was playing with Merlin when he accidentally clawed me. I yelled and Sita came running, looking around with a worried expression, trying to find the cause of my pain. She didn’t leave until I assured her I was alright. Just yesterday, when we had severe storms roll through, Sita came barreling out into the living room, looking at me and meowing in urgency. I knew something was about to happen and sure enough, about 30 seconds later a tree in my front yard hit the ground from where the wind had blown it over. Almost immediately Sita went back to her window to continue watching the storm.
Although Sita fits the “independent cat” belief, she also shows incredible compassion and the need to protect those around her. Watching her over the years has given me an awesome look into the abilities of a cat and I’m sure she’ll have plenty more to teach me as the years go by.