DEAR JOAN: We have a female cat we adopted seven years ago. She is an indoor cat. There is a male kitten we have been caring for outdoors for six months. I would love to bring him in, but I'm afraid our female would not adjust. Your point of view is appreciated.
DEAR M.: It may take a lot of work, or you could get lucky and they'll get along like best friends. Probably not, but I like to be an optimist whenever I can.
About 17 years ago, my mom and I adopted cats at the exact same time. I thought if they came into our house together, there wouldn't be the territorial issues. After 15 years of living together, they still didn't get along, although they finally developed a truce and we only had occasional bursts of open warfare.
The key is to start the process gradually. Keep the cats in separate rooms, encourage them to play "grab the paw" under a door, and let them both come to the realization that another cat is in the house. If you can, feed them together, but keep them separate. Set up some sort of wire screen or gate, or put them in crates so they can see each other but are not within striking distance.
Over time, give them more face time, then gradually allow them to be in the same room together, with supervision. If one becomes aggressive, immediately remove him or her from the play area. Make sure they both have toys and get equal time with you.
You'll likely see some fur flying, but with time they can learn to coexist. Anybody else have experience with this? Tell me your story.
DEAR JOAN: We live next to open space in Martinez and I have seen many creatures on the hill beyond our chain-link fence. I've seen squirrels, deer, raccoons, a fox, a great horned owl and a couple coyotes -- my cats are indoor cats for a very good reason.
This morning I saw what appeared to be a ring-tailed cat. I know they are in California, but I'm not sure whether they are actually in our part of the state. It sure had the distinguishing tail, was much bigger than a regular cat and it walked very "catlike," unlike a raccoon.
Could it have actually been a ring-tailed cat?
DEAR SUZI: Given that you already see a lot of wildlife from your backyard (I'm jealous), and that the range for the ring-tailed cat includes a good portion of California, it is not out of the realm of possibility that you spotted one. The only problem is with your description of the animal.
Ring-tailed cats are exceptionally agile, but they are related to raccoons, not cats, so the gait would be closer to that of its raccoon cousin. Ring-tails also are smaller than the average house cat, not larger.
A lot of cats can take on other appearances when viewed in the wild. It's difficult to judge scale from a distance, and cats often are mistaken for all sorts of things. Nothing to be embarrassed about.
Did you get a good look at the creature? The ring-tail's body is a buff color, ranging to dark brown. It also has "white underpants" and a magnificent black and white striped tail that is much longer than its body. I doubt you had time to count, but it has 14 to 16 stripes.
They also have a heart-shaped face and large, purple eyes. There are white patches around the eyes, which makes the eyes even more prominent. They actually don't look much like a raccoon or a cat.
If you saw any markings on the body, you probably were seeing a tabby. Maine coon cats can get very large and they often have a raccoon-like appearance.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.