It started with this.
A little gray mouse.
A little gray mouse that squeaks anytime it’s jostled, even just a little.
squeak, squeak, squeaksqueaksqueak
We brought the little gray mouse home yesterday, because Buddah, being a kitten, needs lots of toys to distract him and to dispel some of his massive reserves of explosive energy. If he’s playing with a toy, he’s not chewing on Max’s butt.
What we didn’t count on, though, was jealousy of the feline kind. It never occurred to us that Max—who views toys as things to be pawed at once in a blue moon—would be upset that Buddah had something he did not. He spotted that mouse, and Buddah in all his squeaky toy glory, and he wanted it.
He coveted it.
He never once tried t take it away from Buddah, but the message was clear: that should have been mine.
Late last night, as soon as he was sure that Buddah was safely locked behind the Boy’s bedroom door, Max snuck out into the living room, grabbed that mouse, and took it back to the bedroom. He batted it around for about 5 seconds, then dropped it into a laundry basket, hidden—in his mind—from the little black monster.
This morning, after Buddah had gone on his daily ass-on-fire tear around the apartment, he climbed onto me to take a nap. Max immediately jumped onto the footstool; Buddah jumped down, thinking it was Play-With-The-Big-Kitty’s-Tail time; Max shrugged him off and curled up in my lap.
So of course, Buddah climbed onto my shoulder to take his nap.
Buddah was surely thinking “Yay! We’re sleeping on Mommy!” Max was surely thinking, “She’s MINE, you little freak.”
Once or twice, while Buddah snoozed contentedly, Max reached a paw up and poked at him. Whether he was trying to poke an eye out or checking with hope held high that Buddah had died in his sleep, I can’t be sure.
They let me get up a little over an hour later—but when Buddah crawled onto my lap later, Max was right there to claim his space.
Since we only had The Boy, I didn’t have to go through the stages of sibling rivalry, but I’m pretty sure this is one of the first stages. New kid comes, older kid is pissed off and decides he’s going to do everything possible to claim ownership of the adults and all the toys. Although, I’m fairly sure that new babies don’t stalk the older kids and sink teeth into their butt cheeks at every opportunity.
This evening we were out buying massive amounts of cat food (Buddah is, it seems, hollow) and the Spouse Thingy picked up another mouse. It seemed fair; Max wanted that mouse last night, and he deserved to have one of his own. He has been awfully good about having his world turned upside down, after all.
So Buddah was playing with the little mouse from yesterday, and we gave Max the new one. He sniffed it, and practically shrugged his little cat shoulders, the message quite clear: I don’t want the damned mouse. I just didn’t want him to have it.
He wandered off, content that while Buddah might have the toy, we’re still totally his bitches.
At 3 a.m., that’s when he’ll want the mouse.
I’ll wake up to the squeaking, and I won’t take it away from him.
Because deep down inside, Max is right.