Monday, September 03, 2007

Clash of the Titans: Zsa Zsa vs. Penny

Zsa Zsa (my cat) is not a tough girl but she can certainly hold her own. This summer she's managed to scare away all of the fluffier felines in the neighbourhood, simply by groaning and standing very still.

But tonight, when we were sitting outside on the porch, she finally met Penny. The man who used to live in this apartment went out of his way to patronize Penny, a street-smart stray, to the point of actually knocking out his screens so she could have free reign. Penny isn't happy that I'm here but she's gradually accepted that I'll chase her away when she comes to peddle whatever she's peddling.

Tonight, Penny walked halfway to my door and just sat there, staring. Zsa Zsa -- clawless and on her leash -- went into lightning-rod cat-fighter mode, tail bushed up, moaning those low moans that mean "scram, tramp!" She went down the stairs so slowly that it looked like tai-chi, then sat at the bottom, moaning and staring.

Other cats flee when Zsa Zsa does this, but Penny just settled herself down on her side and watched. I couldn't believe her moxie. She was actually TAUNTING my cat, saying "I'm so fearless that I'm just going to chill out on your property, don't mind me." Zsa Zsa's moaning increased. Penny did nothing. It was a very tense moment for all of us.

Then, much to my embarassment, Zsa Zsa began to WAVER. She'd slowly look away, look back, and then finally looked completely away. I encouraged her -- "go get her, girl!" -- but it was obvious that my puss was losing before the fight even started.

This sort of thing can give a cat an inferiority complex.

So I got up and started walking -- slowly -- towards Penny. Zsa Zsa and I stood side-by-side. I hoped I was communicating that I was "in her corner," and perhaps making her feel the way *I* felt when my big sister stood up for me. The two of us walked towards Penny in the deepening twilight. Penny stood up, backed away, sat down again. We continued to walk. Penny began to moan, and the two of them sang a little song of hate.

At the border of Zsa Zsa's world -- where her leash traditionally runs out -- Penny drew the line: she lay down again and mockingly scratched her claws on the grass. She was saying "I have claws and you don't. I could rip you to shreds." Zsa Zsa would go no further.

So I yelled "yah!" and jumped, and Penny ran away. We won but I can't help thinking that we really lost. If Penny brings a thuggish human with her next time, I'm afraid that my cat and I might be reduced to standing at the door, staring, moaning.


Anonymous said...

Heh heh. Great story. Especially loved Zsa Zsa doing Tai Chi and Penny's possible retaliation to your support. :-)

Adam Thornton said...

Yes, it was all very sad! Sort of like Sandra Dee and Tinkerbell trying to intimidate Frenchy.

Anonymous said...

Cat self esteem can be fragile. Our roommate's cat Cobweb was king of the hill at her old apartment, until her former roommate adopted a lovely but uppity grey tabby, leading to many months of peeing and territorial squabbling.

When we all moved in together, it was our adorable little monster who came out on top. Cobweb has turned into the "eternal victim" type, always looking as though he's about to be beaten. Poor boy.

(Love the "little song of hate". I think I know that one.)

Adam Thornton said...

It's funny how the cat you least expect can become "king of the hill."

My grandmother had taken in a tough stray ("Jerry") who had the rule of the house. When my aunt moved in with her, she brought along a stunted, rheumatic, barely-capable kitten. Jerry threw himself through a windowscreen to escape!

Cat self-esteem is fragile, but so is the esteem of a cat owner...I felt like a soccer mom watching her kid lose the big game. But I've always known Zsa Zsa is more of an easygoing couch potato than a scrapper.

The song of hate...a duet of long, drawn-out low-pitched moans that sometimes scale up in pitch, stop, and start again.