Our kitties Kaylee and Cringer came to us much too young.
We were told by the folks giving them away that they were close to ten weeks old, but they were so small, we thought maybe it was more like four or six. Still, they weren’t going to be taken care of where they were, and they’d already been separated from Momma Cat, so we took them in.
The vet figured closer to four weeks than six but they were healthy, so we got them their shots and took them home.
The New Kitty Couple
Kaylee is a dark fluffy calico with golden eyes and what looks like a dollop of orangey paint on her nose. She knows she’s a pretty princess, and expects the rest of the world to treat her accordingly. If she were an outdoor cat, she’d be a “birder:” she routinely reaches the tops of doorways when chasing her feather toys and the laser pointer. And sadly, "Firefly" fans, in her own mind she’s the feline version of Inara, except completely self-absorbed - a long way from her cute-yet-approachable namesake.
Cringer is a 20-plus pound tabby with tiramasu-colored tiger stripes who has always had monster paws, even as a kitten. Until recently he’s been more muscle than flab, and could mouse with the best of them. But sadly "He-Man" fans, he never does actually turn into Battle-Cat, not even for tuna. I think the can opener scares him.
Kaylee and Cringer have been the next best thing to siblings their entire lives. Even when they had issues with other animals or a bad day at the vet, and as different as they are in personality, each has usually been there with a grooming or cuddling for the other when it was needed.
The New Bunny Couple
Around the same time the two kittens came into our lives, Ling-Ling and Percival were also finding their places in our home. Ling-Ling was a tiny Dwarf Hotot with panda coloring, and Percy near as we can figure is an American mutt with a handsome beige coat. (They’re the two bunnies in my icon, for those interested.)
Ling-Ling we took in when an acquaintance moved and couldn’t take her with him. An only rabbit for most of that time, she was small and fairly timid. Percy was a rescue from a hoarding situation: he wasn’t allowed out of his wire-bottomed cage for nearly two whole years, and didn’t even have a name.
Despite his circumstances, Percy was thrilled to meet new people, and is the closest thing to a friendly dog in a bunny’s body that I’ve ever met. When he and Ling-Ling met, it was nearly love at first sight — once it was sorted out that she was the boss, that is. The two of them were super-happy, totally inseparable, and Ling-Ling began to come out of her timid shell.
A Couple of Couples
The best way to introduce new bunnies to one another is to find a place where neither has been before, or failing that, a place where there’s been a lot of traffic — neutral territory, if you will. In our case, the couch made for a perfect place for introductions.
The rabbits did have a couple of brief tussles, but this is pretty normal: two new bunnies always have to sort out who’s going to be the boss. Long story short, the little Panda-Bun decided she was “It,” and our Head Boy was happy with that.
Cringer, being the baby-coward, was having nothing to do with this action. He climbed up into a wooden rocking chair on the other side of the den and pretended to be invisible. But Kaylee, being the baby-huntress, immediately headed for the couch to see what this was all about. By the time she got there, our newly bonded bunny-pair was too busy grooming one other to notice Kaylee sneaking up behind Ling-Ling to give a couple of tentative bats at her little cotton tail.
I'm sure Kaylee was ready to pounce at the first sign of her "prey" scampering away, and I know for a fact Ling-Ling was not expecting her stalker. I can also guarantee that Kaylee was NOT expecting Ling-Ling to flip around 180 degrees and (in effect) say “Hello! I’m Ling-Ling! Who are you?”
Kaylee sprinted away in horror - SUCH behavior, and from dinner, of all things! But curiosity is a well-known personality flaw in cats, and this kitten could not help herself. It wasn’t long before Percy had left to explore the den, and Ling-Ling and Kaylee ended up grooming each other instead. Cuuuuute.
Being little more than a kitten himself (albeit one with big feet), Cringer was curious too. Time after time Percy would hop by the rocker, and time after time Cringer would oh-so-carefully reeeeeach… only to pull his paw back before Percy ever noticed. It was so funny watching his curiosity war with his fear.
Percy would have minded even less than Ling-Ling, I’m sure, but the poor Fraidy-Cat never did get his courage up. And when Percy finally did notice Cringer up in the chair, he “periscoped” up to get a better look, and maybe say “Hello!”
By the time Percy got his nose up there close enough to get a good "hello" sniffing, Cringer was in the next room, and still accelerating.
Since that time the cats have grown up, and they’ve decided that the rabbits speak a language too different from theirs to bother with. Sometimes they’ll explore the bunnies’ house if it gets left open (and the buns aren’t home!), and sometimes one of them will even curl up on top of it.
But mostly the cues of the different species end up going misread or ignored by the respective four-legged audience. The result is a set of mildly curious but otherwise unconcerned rabbits, and a set of highly curious but very disconcerted felines. The cats solve this neatly by finding somewhere else to be. The rabbits? I'm not sure they know there's anything needing "solved," to be honest.
So how do we of the two-legged variety solve the language barrier between ourselves and our house rabbits? Stay tuned!
Do any of you have multi-species households? How do your pets get along? We’d love to hear in the comments below!