The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.
It's now been around six months since we introduced Molly, the new cat, to the household. We were told at the rescue centre that one of her main personality traits was an abiding hatred of all other cats, without distinction. Observing her adventures in the neighborhood, we have found this to be true.
We can add that she tolerates humans and dislikes dogs intensely, in particular our dog, Katie. Since Katie is a Jack Russell accustomed to leading the non-human hierarchy in the house and jealous of any attention paid by resident humans to other animals, this has made life interesting. In fact, our house has become the contested territory in a four legged combat that bears quite a remarkable resemblance to a classic Maoist People's War, with cat and dog as insurgent and regime respectively.
First, there was the establishment of the revolutionary base in in our son's old bedroom. Molly settled there shortly after arriving: yawning, staring at nothing, making clicking sounds at birds visible through the window, and, it seems, plotting.
Now, our dog tends to stick closely with one or the other of us wherever we happen to be in the house. Since we don't go into the spare bedroom, that gives the cat a sanctuary while also enabling it to establish a corridor to her food and water simply by listening for our – and therefore the dog's - movements. Having figured this out, the cat's next move was to gradually infiltrate our and the dog's spaces, basically through superior agility. The dog didn't like this; but since Katie could never get hold of her, she eventually grew to accept it. This established the house in general as contested ground: apart from the cat's own revolutionary base in the spare bedroom.
Then it was time to go on the attack. Over the past few months the cat has developed a variety of ambush points from where she can conduct pinprick attacks on the dog as it goes through the house. Like all guerilla attacks they are about speed and agility – well, specifically they are about swiping the dog across the arse with her claws out and darting away before she can turn. Like a typical conventional force, the dog is heavier and slower, and all her weapons face to the front. Anything but a face to face confrontation gives the cat an advantage.
What's really interesting here is that the cat has managed to combine discrete enemy contact opportunities in a way that allows it to perform multiple, sequential ambushes. The dog trots into the hallway. The cat streaks from under the clothes airer in the front room, attacks and vanished under the dining room table. The dog turns up the stairs. The cat immediately shoots up behind her, swipes once more and vanishes into the toilet, ready for a side on attack as the dog turns into the bedroom. Her trajectory then carries her under the bed, ready for a last vicious sneak attack, which will, I assume by some sort of design, clear the way for her to get down the stairs back to the front room...rinse and repeat.
The intention behind all of this seems to be to force the dog to retreat from contested space, giving Molly unquestioned dominance of the house. And if it wasn't for us, it would have worked : we convoy Katie up and down the stairs like something out of Street Without Joy. She is now chronically nervous about passing open doors. And yet she has also developed what look like counterinsurgency techniques, including random invasions of the cat's base area and a knack of positioning herself directly in front of the catflap in the conservatory door, thus interdicting the cat's access to food and water. This is going to go on and on...
“Guerrilla warfare is basic, but lose no chance for mobile warfare under favourable conditions. ”