The Dominant Kitty

by F.

Our new cat has recovered from her illness and is now eating like a pig, which is frightening, because she could quite easily develop small head syndrome.

Since she’s Siamese, she has this tiny little skull; if she puts on too many pounds around the middle, she’s going to look positively odd—like a bowling pin. But we’ll see. She may not be able to deal with the open food bowl. (Which reminds me of our friends’ cat, Chunky, who I cat sat once and who was absolutely huge. Like a rugby ball. Cut cat, though. Poor Chunky never could lose the weight, not even after trying CAtkins.)

Now the challenge is getting the two cats to tolerate each other. Most of us have learned about the Wellesley Effect: put a bunch of female animals together and their ovulatory cycles synch. I learned from Robert Sapolsky about a nuance: certain females synch and certain females are synched to. Which is which? The dominant females are synched to. So, if you are wondering whether you are dominant (assuming you are a female) when put into this kind of situation, keep track of who synchs to whom. I thought about this because Meeka, the new cat, seems to be dominant. Bijli, the old cat, is scared to death of her. I’m sure Bijli is doing the synching.

Now, this is the same Bijli who hagrode our gigantic Norwegian Forest Cat, Odin. Odin was a pussy in at least two senses. Bijli completely dominated him, poor guy. I could just feel his testosterone level drop each time she slapped him in the face. I thought the same thing would happen with Meeka. But no. Bijli won’t even come downstairs when Meeka is on the first floor. Bijli isn’t really aggressive with Meeka; it’s more like she’s scared to death—at one point running out of the room when Meeka entered. This is totally bizarre to me.

The big question is, How does Bijli “know” that Meeka is dominant? (Assuming she is, which seems reasonable). I’m no expert on cat pheromones, but I know that humans can smell the status of other humans (women can smell men’s status, for instance). I’m sure there is something similar going on here. Meeka is a very calm cat. Calm and vocal. And snuggly. Perhaps the absence of stress hormones scares Bijli.