Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sibling Rivalry

If people ask me one question these days, it's "How's Alex?"  If they ask two, it's "How's Alex?  And how's Ringo taking it?"  The answer to the second question is fine, as far as we can tell.

For those who don't know, Ringo is our cat.  He's not the brightest of felines - he once got stuck halfway in and halfway out of his cat flap - but he is very cute.  And until recently, he was the cutest thing in the house.  With the arrival of Alex this is no longer the case.

I have to admit, we were a touch worried about what Ringo would think of Alex.  He became very protective of Nicola while she was pregnant.  In the last few weeks before Alex was born Ringo would follow Nic about the house, always keeping one beady eye on her.  If she sat down for more than a minute, he would be on her lap.  Or attempt to be on her lap, anyway.  Pregnant tummy + large cat > total surface area of lap, so there were a couple of awkward moments.  But guarding a pregnant owner is one thing, dealing with the inevitable result is the other.  How would he take to Alex?

The answer was (unsurprisingly to many cat owners I'm sure) that he would just pretend Alex didn't exist.  When Alex first arrived back, Ringo gave him a cursory sniff, then wondered off to eat some food.  That's pretty much been it in terms of cat/baby interaction since then.  Ringo will every now and then look at Alex, then go back to pretending he doesn't exist.  Alex, for his part, will watch the cat if Ringo walks past while Alex is on his mat getting a nappy changed.

The only behaviour we've had to discourage was Ringo's unfortunate tendency to go to sleep in the pram.  Not the comfy, baby containing bit, you understand, but the shopping bit underneath.  You may recall that it's just big enough for 19 toilet rolls.  It transpires that it's also an ideal size for a large, black cat (who is almost invisible when in there).  It's remarkably hard to get a cat out of a shopping basket, I discovered.  At least, it's hard if you want to remain in possession of all your remaining limbs.  Tipping the pram on its side and shaking it turns out to be the best approach.

So other than trying to stowaway on the pram, Ringo has taken Alex's arrival remarkably well.  He hasn't left home.  He hasn't weed on Alex's sheets.  He hasn't decided to sleep on Alex's face.  Phew.  I can tell you, though, that it's impossible to see a cat that's about to twine itself around your feet when you're singing to a baby in your arms.  I've come pretty close to death a few times thanks to that.  So maybe Ringo hasn't taken it so well after all...


  1. Be interesting to see if Ringo's equinamity changes when Alex becomes mobile, but there's a while to go yet...

  2. I suspect that he'll be less calm then. Volitional control over grabbing things may also prove tricky for Ringo to deal with.