American Politics: Rooted in the Past with no Regards for the Future

Over the past twenty-four hours, several pieces have appeared, claiming the possibility of a Hail Mary for these election results. While the polls are closed, and the nation has announced a new president-elect, the Electoral College doesn’t officially meet to cast their ballots until December 19.

How possible is this? What would be needed? How did we get to where we are? Where did the Electoral College come from? What were the Founding Fathers thinking?!

Electoral College: A History

The Electoral College: a remnant of an archaic 18th century tradition that meant the best, but has caused the worst.
At the Constitutional Convention of 1878, a system of checks & balances was put in for our checks and balances. After rejecting the ideas of either Congress or state legislators selecting the president, election by popular vote was settled. However, there was fear that general lack of information would heavily sway votes, causing the people to vote for a familiar face, or a “favorite son” of their home state, instead of a candidate who was more qualified, but less familiar. The hope was that the most informed, knowledgeable people from each state were the ones choosing  This model can be seen throughout history: the Roman Republic’s Centurial Assembly, the Roman Catholic Church of the College of Cardinals selecting the Pope. With many of the Founding Fathers schooled in classical history and political strategies, the similarity of the systems isn’t surprising. However, as the population grew, technology developed, information became more readily available, and the digital age dawned, it turned from a help to a hindrance. Just as it did with the Centurial Assembly, the Electoral College became more of an oligarchic system than a democratic one.

Let it also be realized that this system was designed to work without political parties, OR national campaigns. In Article II, Section I of the Constitution, it outlines the design and implementation of the College:

 

  • Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
  • The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

 

This first design only lasted through four presidential elections, with the second design appearing after the messy Election of 1800 (Jefferson or Burr?). After the Electorates of their party gave each of them equal votes, the vote fell to the House of Representatives who, after 36 tries, finally took a vote that was cast in Jefferson’s favor. Not wanting to go through the same confusing turmoil again, the Continental Congress of 1804 hastily wrote and passed the Twelfth Amendment, which clarified that each Elector cast one vote for president, and one for vice-president, instead of the previous model, which had two votes for president, and the runner-up was given the vice president’s seat.

Political parties had, up to that point, been somewhat unorganized, however, America saw very quickly that the feud Jefferson & Burr had created solidly divided the still-young American political system into two very separate parties (despite both being of the Democratic-Republican Party). Since the amendment, several federal and state laws were passed that somewhat altered the timeline of the Electoral College votes, but by and large, it remains intact the same way that it existed after 1804. (One exception to this rule is the 23rd amendment, which granted the District of Columbia three electors.)

Present Day:
While all electors are chosen by voters, in many states, the names of candidates for the college almost never appear on the ballot, many times, the seats being “awarded” to persons already on the state legislature.

Across the board, electors are, in most cases, pledged to vote for the candidates of the party that nominated them to the position. However, in rare cases, individuals have refused, and voted against their party or the popular vote. These are called “faithless electors.” While there is no concrete evidence that the founders intended for the electors to be independent of any party, but it can be strongly assumed due to the fact that the original model was meant to operate without the existence of political parties at all. In fact, many scholars have the opinion that, once electors have been chose, they remain constitutionally free agents with the ability to vote for whichever candidate that meets the Presidential and Vice Presidential requirements. There are laws punishing faithless electors in 24 of the 50 states, due to a Supreme Court case in 1952, Ray v. Blair, 343 US 214, but the constitutionality of actually punishing an elector has never been decided, and electors can only be punished after the fact, which wouldn’t’ change their vote. Still, the Faithless have been few and far between, with 187 occurring in our nation’s entire 240 year history. In the 20th century alone, there have been seven, one each in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 2000- none of them swayed or influenced the outcome of an election in any way.

Electing a President:

An official election day was chosen by Congress in 1845, stopping the previous voting practice in which each state had different voting timelines spread between September & November. While not the most timely of practices, this also lead to multiple votes across state lines, and other various voting fraud practices. November was chosen out of ease for the farming population, which comprised most of America’s occupation at the time. They settled on a Tuesday because of the widespread religious practice of observing Sunday as a strict day of rest. It provided a full day’s travel, harvest was in, and travel wasn’t yet hampered by weather. While other countries around the globe have made their election days a federal holiday, or offer other tools for making voting easier, the United States has yet to update their voting process since this time.

Weeks after the general election, the electors meet in the capital of their respective states to cast their ballot. Currently, it’s the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, it’s December 19th.

Why are we still hoping on the electoral college?

Simple: They do not officially cast their ballots til December 19, leaving several weeks of assumption. At the time of the election, there were four members of the Electoral College already pledging to be faithless: Robert Satiacum and Bret Chiafalo, both Democratic electors from Washington, and Republican electors Baoky Vu, Georgia, and Chris Suprun, from Texas. Suprun later told TIME that he intends to support Trump, so that leaves three. Two Democratic members who intend to abstain from casting their vote at all, and one Republican.

If, in the Electoral College, the margin of victory comes as close as it did in 2000, any one of these men could sway the vote, making it the first time in history to happen. However, there is a series of laws in place that would simply push the process down the line of state laws and constitutional checks & balances.

First, if the Electoral College results in a tie due to an elector abstaining or switching their vote, a provision in the Twelfth Amendment mandates that the House chooses the president, with the Senate choosing the vice president. Each representative in the House casts a single vote, and the majority wins.

Second, when Congress meets on January 6, 2017, they will determine if the Electoral College vote was “regularly given,” a historically ceremonial meeting. However, this meeting doesn’t have to be ceremonial: if a single member of the House and one member of the Senate objects to the results of the Electoral College (ie: the final tally is swayed due to a faithless elector), the newly elected Congress now vote. If both the decision of the House and the Senate agree, the decision is final, and a president is chosen. If they do not agree, then the Secretary of State of the state who’s electors were faithless decides. (ie: If Satiacum, Chiafalo, Vu, or Suprun’s votes were cast in such a way that it swayed the vote, than the Secretary of State for Washington, Georgia, and Texas would make the final decision.)

The contemporary number of electoral votes stands at 538, with a candidate needing 270 in order to become president-elect. Due to the current practice of awarding electoral votes, in which a candidate receives all of a state’s vote if they gain the popular vote, the electoral college stands in Trump’s favor- 290 to Clinton’s 232, as of Wednesday evening, despite Clinton winning the popular vote (making her only the fifth candidate in history to do so). So, as it stands, the chances of the electoral college vote in December actually flipping the election is barely there.

 

So, in conclusion: yes, there is more to the process, but it would defy odds for actual change to happen. What this election really tells us is  how outdated and archaic our voting process has become. Between our election day still resting on a weekday, widespread instances of companies threatening employees if they took time off or were late if they voted, voter repression, and the fact that it isn’t a federal holiday, many things need to change. Our democratic government’s shroud is wearing thin, exposing its oligarchical skeletal structure to the masses. The president elect is chosen not by the people’s vote, but by a group of politicians more interested in keeping their political party in power than they are gratifying the people’s issues. Unfortunately, because the electoral college is written into the Constitution, getting rid of it is far easier said than done. A two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, and the ratification in 38 of our 50 states would be required. It’s been tried before, and has failed miserably. Attempts in 1934, 1966, and 1979 have all failed in the legislative branch, and over the past decade, state-by-state workarounds were cropping up in local polls.

As you can see, the dislike and mistrust of the electoral college isn’t a new issue. In fact, national dislike has been at a majority for decades. A Gallup poll in 1948 said 56% were against it. That number rose to 58% in 1967, and by the next year, 80% of the national voice was against the outdated amendment. However, it’s never been successfully repealed.

Regardless of the outcome of the electoral college, we have work to do.

 

Worth noting:
Between third-party voters and the outdated existence of the electoral college, we find the lost votes. Had Clinton won in the closest states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida, she would have defeated Trump with 307 electoral votes, securing the presidency. (This election is an eerie reflection of how the 2000 election played out, where Florida was, once again, down to the wire.) Please note that the following statistics do not show how many of Johnson’s or Stein’s voters would have voted for Clinton or Trump in the event of the third-party candidates not being on the ballot, or how many of them would have stayed home. However, we can acknowledge that the electoral map would look decidedly different in the event they were not an option.

Florida, 29 electoral votes:
Lost by 119,770 votes, with 99% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 270,026.

Michigan, 16 electoral votes:
Lost by 11,837, with 96% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 223,707

Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes:
Lost by 68,236 votes, with 99% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 191,565

Wisconsin, 10 electoral votes:
Lost by 27,257, with 95% reporting.
Total number of votes for Johnson and Stein: 137,422

 

 

 

Sources:

US Electoral College, National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/index.html

History of the Electoral College, History.com http://www.history.com/topics/electoral-college

Electoral College: Fun Stuff, Jackson County Electoral Board, http://jceb.co.jackson.mo.us/fun_stuff/electoral_college.htm

Education: The Electoral College, Votesmart.org, https://votesmart.org/education/electoral-college#.WCSBHlUrKUk

What Happens if Faithless Electors Swing the Results?, Time.com http://time.com/4560682/faithless-electors/

The One Scenario that Could Still get Hillary to the White House, New York Post, http://nypost.com/2016/11/09/the-one-scenario-that-could-still-get-hillary-into-the-white-house/

Could Faithless Electors Change the Outcome of the Election?, Bustle.com https://www.bustle.com/articles/194300-could-faithless-electors-change-the-outcome-of-the-election-hillary-clinton-supporters-cant-rely-on-them

The So-called Faithless Elector Could Decide the Presidential Election for the First Time, Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/9/so-called-faithless-elector-could-decide-president/

How Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Helped Elect Donald Trump, CNN Politics, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/politics/gary-johnson-jill-stein-spoiler/

Getting Rid of the Electoral College, Washington Post,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/09/getting-rid-of-the-electoral-college-dream-on-democrats/

Aftermath: An Anonymous Letter

As the occupants of our nation mentally prepare for a new president, many mentally prepare for the new battles that will, most likely, become part of daily lives.
Over the past 24 hours, the reactions I have witnessed from friends and loved ones has gone from incredulous to terror and dread. The actions of the next presidential cabinet  will directly effect groups of our nation’s citizens such as women, those with physical and learning disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, refugees, minorities, and more.
We are now tasked with explaining this blatant disregard to human decency to our children- why our friends, family members, made the conscious choice to put such a man in office.
Below is a letter, sent to me by a friend, who faces that dilemma every day now.


Last night, just after my Google alert notified me that the new President-Elect had been chosen, I sneaked into my daughter’s room. We recently transitioned her to a “big girl” bed- a twin mattress, upon which her two-year-old fame usually looks hilariously small.

But last night the sight wasn’t hilarious.

I stretched out on the covers next to her, and watched her tiny face as she slept, her little legs tucked under her body, her little arms crossed, just as she had been in the womb. I listened to her breath as she dozed, perfectly peaceful and blissfully unaware of the shift we are all about to experience. And in my mind, as I studied her, I apologized. I apologized for our country. For the millions who cast a ballot for the man who will lead us in January. And I apologized for you.

You’ve given me your explanations, in your way. You’ve communicated your fears about a Clinton presidency. You’ve expressed your views of Trump’s powerful presence and no-nonsense opinions. Mom, you praised the way he could “say whatever he wanted” without repercussions, citing that trait as an admirable one. I don’t think it’s occurred to you that maybe he was “allowed” to voice such blatant violence because millions of Americans still have a deep-seated prejudice against people different from themselves. Maybe you didn’t see what I did: that he was “allowed” to continue in his loud hate because half of our country heard, in his voice, their own internal prejudices. Because he wore expensive suits, and had a supermodel wife, and stood in front of microphones, and said things the ordinary among them were not allowed to say.

Except now they can.

Dad, you expressed horror at his cavalier admittance of sexual assault, but said that Clinton had “enabled” her husband by supporting him before she discovered his guilt, which made her “no better” than Trump. You said that they are “at best equally disgusting and I would argue that she is worse than he is.” A little piece of our relationship died that day. As a woman who left an abusive marriage, I was heartbroken to learn that you would not only hold Clinton accountable for the sins of her partner, but consider her equal to an admitted abuser for standing by him.

But while you tried to argue that your vote for Trump wasn’t support of him, your decision, as it has historically done, came down to money. “She will sell us all down the river for another dollar,” you said, “wipe her mouth, and tell us to eat cake.” You claimed she was power-hungry, as though it as a claim that couldn’t be applied bilaterally in this election.

And all of this, you argued, was reason enough to overlook Trump’s faults, and cast your lot in with him. You summed up your position neatly with a cartoon, shared to your Facebook page, of Washington Post reporters straining at a molehill labeled “Trump,” while Hillary’s scandals loomed as large as mountains behind them.

As I held my sleeping baby girl, I thought about that molehill, which, in your opinion, was small enough that your conscience allowed you to cast a vote for that man.

I thought about the fear he fed  dumping gallons of fuel on a fire that should never have been lit. I thought about my Muslim friends who, despite their deep religious convictions, are abandoning their hijabs out of fear for their lives. I thought about the lies he told, over and over and over, like a child who doesn’t have any understanding of modern technology or its fact-checking capabilities. I thought of the fact that your granddaughter’s healthcare is based on the good graces of the Affordable Care Act, which your candidate has pledged to repeal. I thought about the women who tried to step forward about abuse they had suffered at his hands, and who have been bullied into silence.

I thought about how economists who know what they are actually talking about have projected horrifying outcomes, should his policies play out. I thought about women across this country who may face death in a country without reproductive choice. I thought about my dear gay and lesbian friends who celebrated their marriages this year, only to have those unions thrown into uncertainty if Trump appoints the Supreme Court justice he wants. I thought about my Latinx friends who are terrified of losing their parents and grandparents to deportation.

And Trump. I thought about him. His venom toward an entire religion. His prejudice against entire races. His objectification of and violence toward women. His running mate, who thinks it’s okay to electrocute young queer people until they are “straight.” His supporters, the KKK and white supremacists, who looked at his policies and perspectives and adopted him as their champion.

I tried to imagine explaining to my tiny daughter, your granddaughter, how her grandparents, aunts, and uncles all voted to take away her health care, take away her right to choose, and take away her safety, should she discover one day that she likes girls rather than boys.

Should I tell her you were worried about your money? That keeping your tax dollars in your pocket (which won’t happen under Trump anyway) is more important that taking a stand against blatant misogyny? Should I tell her that you decided bragging about sexual assault and standing by an unfaithful partner were “equally disgusting?” Should I tell her that you allowed hate-fueled rhetoric to make you afraid of anyone different from you, so you agreed that it was safest to just deny America to those people?

Maybe you just didn’t see what he is. Maybe you were too steeped in your privileged race, your privileged sexuality, and your privileged religion, too isolated from anyone different from you, to hear all the marginalized voices screaming in fear to please don’t do this.

Or maybe you did see. Maybe you saw his racism, his xenophobia, his misogyny, his elitism, and his brutish, bullying ways, and you decided he was the lesser of two evils.

If that’s the case, then you have to understand that in good conscience, keeping you far, far away from my baby girl has to be the lesser of two evils for me.

Because no amount of fear is justification for racism in my home. No amount of suspicion is enough to vilify an entire religion in this family. No amount of tax money saved is worth repealing a woman’s rights to her own body, or a human’s right to healthcare. And any man who is able to brag about assaulting women, make lecherous and creepy comments about his own daughter, and face multiple accusations of violent rape is fit to be my cab driver, let alone my president. For the rest of my life, when you try to insist that you “don’t support” this man, who is the walking embodiment of everything I hope to protect my child from, we’ll both know it’s bullshit, because you saw what he was, and you handed him the keys to the kingdom anyway.

You failed your granddaughter and niece this week. You dramatically changed the country in which she will be raised, and not for the better. And I’ll be damned if you are ever allowed to influence her further.

Well, I did it again.

Remember this little guy?
img_3478

Well… he had a sister.
14600692_10154451796836291_1909978925_o

Her name is Luna- my sister, Phoebe, is keeping her, so no, I will not be moving to Colorado with three cats in tow. I’m crazy, but not insane. Come on, people.

I KNOW. I KNOW.
but they’re so CUTE and TINY and they have SPOTS and have I mentioned how TINY THEY ARE?!
However, they’ve proven to be extremely helpful while I’m packing my moving boxes…

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I’m the only one I know who’ll impulse adopt a cat.

If you know me, and I know this post will get a menagerie of readers- some who’ve been around my whole life, some who are passerby in certain chapters of my existence, others who know me better than themselves, you’ll know that I’m a planner.
I like lists.
I love bullet points.
I thrive on knowing what I’ll be doing in two hours.
I’m the one who packs those needless “just in case” items on a weekend trip.

“Winging it” gives my brain hives. The only thing I ever impulse buy is tshirts from Target.

And yet, over the past year, I’ve become more accustomed to impulse. Impromptu activities aren’t as stressful. I’ve found a balance between planning and letting go (if any of you starts with Frozen, you’re fired). In fact, last week, I threw caution to the wind, and RSVP’d to a rap music video casting call (which just so happens to be tonight).

I can easily trace these changes back to one instance, or, more accurately, one person.
13900163_10154260010706291_7859489370529882699_nThat one. Right there. It’s his fault.

Timehop- usually a tool of embarrassment used to remind you of haphazard decisions and stances you held 10 years ago- notified me yesterday that was exactly 6 years since the first Western Civ class that threw us into one another’s lives. While our friendship built over the following 5, both of us would have laughed til beer came out our noses if someone would have told us that we’d end up being together. And yet, here we are.

Here I am, impulse adopting a tiny, fluffy, flea-bitten kitten, allowing my friend-turned-boyfriend of 1.5 years to name him, and not batting an eyelash. Here I am signing up for a casting call completely out of my comfort zone. Here I am, writing a letter of resignation to my job, notifying them that my last day will be in December, in 3 months time, when I will be moving to Colorado to finally end this long-distance torture.

Yep.
There it is. I said it.
It’s out in the open. Loud & proud.
I’M MOVING.
Wrapped nice and snug, unassuming, in a warm, fuzzy paragraph about a warm, fuzzy kitten.

I’m moving.

I adore Kansas City- it’s shitty roads, a civil engineer’s nightmare (looking at you, downtown cherry trap), on-again-off-again sports teams (Heyyyyy Chiefs…), newly great sports teams (#rallymantis), and slew of coffee connoisseurs, roasters, and hipster-like shops & bars.
I adore the family I have in the city- by blood, or by choice.
My roller derby warriors, my coaches, my kickass skate fam.
The friends I’ve grown up with, gone to school with, survived puberty and questionable fashion choices with.

But, to throw myself face first into hokey stereotypes and phrases:
Kansas City will always be my hometown, but home is where my heart is, and frankly, it’s not here. 947331_10153748923461291_2816788918412655724_n

So there it is. Most of you have seen it coming, some haven’t. However, now it’s official.

December 9th, I’m saying goodbye to a job that’s taught me so much, and saying hello to a house filled with the one I love, four cats, beer, and more books than either of us will know what to do with.

Here’s to the next chapter, and impulse adopting cats.

A Tail of Two Kitties, pt. 6

Success! 

While not in the timeframe of anticipated, Remus has been introduced and is adapting amazingly well to our household. 

Initially, I was planning on working through the familiarity stages slowly, however Morgana took to him brilliantly after her wariness at the beginning. 

Remus always sleeps in my room with Morgana and I now, and no longer does Morgana wake me up at 5:30/6am with meows and a headbut. Instead, the two wake up and play with each other, or jump up on my bed to make sure I’m there, then go back to sleep on the cat tower. 

The rest of the household- the human occupants, have accepted Remus wholeheartedly, with my mother now being the queen of cat pictures. (You think I’m kidding) 

I’m so excited that everyone is gettingg along, and Morgana’s ire only lasted three days! 

A Tail of Two Kitties, PT 5.

It’s been quiet over the weekend. I was out of town, so the cats were watched by my mom & sister, who dutifully sent updates and photos when my worrisome little heart couldn’t stand it. 

But oh what an eventful weekend! 

Morgana and Remus have become fairly trusting of each other- playing and napping with and around each other with ease! I was able to witness it for the first time this evening, when I re-charged my introvert battery with an evening of writing and cats in my room. 

Last evenings, Morgana spent the night in my room with me and G, to help her get used to him being around. Since she’s skittish around guys, but her last two meetings with him went well, I figured it was time. She did well, eventually settling down in a spot by our heads, keeping watch like the mother hen she is. Remus stayed in his room as usual. 

Tonight, however, the real test begins: I’m going to see how they do overnight. It’s been very quiet so far, and they’ve been in the same room for several hours. Here’s hoping the supervised long visits continue to do well! 

A Tail of Two Kitties, Pt 3

Parts 2 & 3 have been fairly close together, but lots has happened over the last day!

When I got home from work last night, I spent lots of quality time with Morgana. After all, it was Black Cat Appreciation Day, and I had to let her know that she’s still my best girl. While it was just her and me in my room, I gave her some of her favorite wet food (Halo’s Spot’s Stew is fantastic, for anyone looking for a holistic wet food that is grain-free! It’s full of protein and fiber that cats young and old need. Our 17 year old cat loves it, Morgana loves it, and so does Remus! [I gave him a bit this morning.]), and just talked to her while she was sniffing around the room, investigating the lingering scent of Remus from the night before. After about 30 minutes had passed, her yowls and hisses were replaced with my purring, chirruping, sassy girl. Even after I went into Remus’s room to feed him and play with him a bit, she didn’t react to his scent on me (unless you count a glare and a cold shoulder for about 5 minutes, but no hisses or yowling!).

STEP 2 PROGRESS!!!
(remember Step 2 was Scent Familiarization)

The rest of our night was uneventful, with Morgana alternating between my bed and her climbing tree. Remus slept through the night without waking up and crying, finally rid of those pesky fleas we found yesterday! I’ll have to admit, I woke up around 3 in a panic. “I CAN’T HERE HIM. HE’S DEAD. OH HE’S EITHER ASLEEP OR HE’S DEAD.” However, he woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed (seriously. so bushy. so fluffy) around 6:30 this morning when he heard Morgana and me up wandering around.

Morgana’s reactions have lessened around Remus! She wandered over to his room, sniffing the door frame as he mewed and stuck his paws under the door. Although, she wasn’t happy when I shut her in the bathroom with me as I was getting ready. He seemed significantly louder in there, so she couldn’t ignore him. However, she yowled once or twice, but otherwise seemed unfazed, if a bit curious about the noise.

Once I finished getting ready, I went in to Remus’s room to play with him a bit, comb him for fleas, and put the oil on him again.

Side note:
When we discovered fleas on Remus yesterday, sister and my mom went out and got lemongrass oil and eucalyptus oil that they mixed into a spray. We’re putting it on Remus 2-3 times a day. While it doesn’t kill the fleas on him, it acts as a repellent. He’s already a lot more comfortable, and this morning, when I combed him again, I got a few dead ones. Since he’s a kitten, I’m never comfortable putting the flea/tick drops on him. When a $50+ product says that it’s harmful to animals if ingested, and you’re putting it ON an animal…no thanks. (Also, my sister and I get skin reactions to them, so another strike against it.)

When I had to leave the room to grab a broom & litter scoop, I left the door open and carried him with me. Surprisingly, Morgana wasn’t too angry with this. Instead of yowling or hissing, she just glared from the top of the stairs for a while, before approaching the room cautiously and sniffing around, even though Remus was scampering about.

When I was finished in his room, I gave him a bit of the wet food left over in the tin from Morgana’s breakfast, and  shut the door. THAT bit, he didn’t like. The little dude is way too curious. HOWEVER, when I scooped up Morgana a few minutes later to walk downstairs and get coffee (for me) and breakfast (for her), she purred and headbutted my chin like she normally does, even though I probably REEKED of Remus!

Later this morning, while I’m at work, my sister sends me text updates of the shenanigans at home. She’d brought down Remus into the kitchen, and Morgana, having claimed the kitchen as her favorite hang out spot, stayed and sniffed around, observing him from a few feet away! Both my sister and my mom were there, so this was extremely supervised, but knowing that they’ve made this much progress in this short of a time period is exciting! For now, we’re keeping these visits under an hour, and will continue the pattern for about a week, just to be safe.

This evening, both cats will get extra attention AND meet their dad! SUCH an exciting day!!!

A Tail of Two Kitties, PT 2

Night update! 

It’s officially been 24 hours, and so much has changed already! 

We found that Remus had a BAD case of fleas, so after a good brushing with a nit-comb, he was rid of about 11 large adult fleas. Some were smaller, but most were swollen and about as large as a ceramic sewing needle head :( (thank you to my wonderful sis who did the combing while I was at work). Then, we made a mixture of lemongrass and eucalyptus oils to get rid of any we may have missed, and repel other fleas. 

Since the de-fleaing, he’s been much less talkative, and as of right now (about 10 pm) he’s been sound asleep for 3 hours. Compared to last night, when he would wake every hour or so and mew til he fell back asleep, it’s an amazing change. He’s still in the guest room, and loving the space and the toys. 

Morgana, meanwhile, is doing better as well. While still not happy, her demeanor has changed from a wary, spooked out cat, to just a grumpy “why are you here,” so it’s quite possible that we might start doing visual familiarization this weekend! We have a baby gate that Morgana doesn’t jump over, but we would need to make sure Remus doesn’t climb on it. 

Today, once I got off of work, was all about Morgana. I fed her roast chicken when I got home, and held her while I was doing some chores around the house, then I took her upstairs to my room (remember it still smells like Remus), and spent more quality time with her there. I fed her some of her favorite wet food, which, while my room still smelled like Remus, was inching closer to the positive association of his scent (meanwhile, Remus couldn’t care less. It’ll be a lot easier for him to like Morgana than the other way around). After about 45 minutes of staying in our room, Morgana was back to her chirruping, sassy self, and loving in me as if I didn’t Trojan horse another cat into her territory. Yay! 

I foresee a quiet night ahead, so hopefully, my next update will be more progress! ​

A Tail of Two Kitties, Pt 1

According to an article by the Animal Humane Society,

The typical adult household cat will accept a new kitten much more easily than he will accept a new adult cat. Cats are by nature very territorial, and your cat may resent an adult feline intruder, attacking him or retreating under the bed as a result. He may, however, feel less threatened by a relatively helpless 8 week old kitten. Even so, you will want to monitor your cat’s behavior with the newcomer until you’re sure he will not harm the kitten. Follow the introduction protocol below for maximum success.”

Of course, I read this only AFTER introducing Remus Mewpin (Egyptian Mau mix- 2 months- grey) to my household, already occupied by Sissy- dog- 14, JoAnne- cat- 18 (or 16. Idk she’s old and hates everyone ), and Morgana-black cat- 1 yr & some months.

But I digress.
Let’s go back to how I came to bring Remus home.

Early last week, a friend mentioned that her neighbors had a litter of kittens they wanted to adopt out. Having consumed a couple of wines (or beer), I became putty, helpless against the charm that comes with four tiny legs, whiskers, and a tail. After texting my boyfriend (since a new addition would mean a grand total of 4 cats when I move in) and talking with my mom (since it would live with me in our house for a few months til I move), I confirmed the adoption. They say that the waiting game is the hardest. I’ll just confirm that right now. However, then the day came: yesterday, actually, when I could go pick up baby cat and bring him home. (except at the time, I thought he was a girl, so I was all ready to name her Rowena…SURPRISE.)

Once I brought him into the house, his curiosity was piqued. Unfortunately, so was Morgana’s. While she wasn’t aggressive or angry, she’d glare from afar and skulk around, hissing and yowling softly whenever he mewed (which honestly, was a lot. So tiny, so loud…). Since I wasn’t sure of his attitude around people or other cats, I set up temporary housing for baby Remus’ first night. A cat carrier, left from the early days of my childhood, when we had cats that outweighed most small dogs, was outfitted with a fluffy blanket, food, and water, then kept on the floor in my room. The blanket that was used to transport Remus home was set out in the middle of the floor for Morgana to investigate (see step 2 below), although she was more interested in the carrier & Remus himself.

The night was (happily) uneventful, with Remus sleeping away, occasionally waking up and mewing softly a couple of times, then falling back asleep. Morgana, wary of this invader, spent the night skulking around, making unhappy noises. After reading this great article from Modern Cat, I learned that her sounds weren’t out of the ordinary, and didn’t mean the introduction was headed down a bad path. Her hisses were soft and dry: there wasn’t any spitting, and she never bared her fangs, arched her back, or puffed up. She was also making a low, rumbling humming sound, which, turns out, is called a “yowl.” This is much better than a growl for a few reasons:

  1. A yowl (a longer, more drawn-out moan) denotes worry, discomfort, or territorial concern (or also mating issues, but that was obviously not what was happening here), where a growl is usually a sign of fear, anger or territorial threat.
  2. A growl is usually accompanied by defensive behavior in the cat: arched back, twitching tail, ears back, puffed fur. Morgana, on the other hand, was showing the feline signs of fear. Naturally timid, this didn’t surprise me: since Remus is a brand new cat, I was hoping Morgana would tend towards spooked than angry. It’s much easier to calm and comfort a frightened cat than an angry one. The Humane Society says, “If your cat is hiding, but healthy, leave him alone. He’ll come out when he’s ready. Forcing him out of his hiding spot will only make him more fearful. Make sure he has easy access to food, water and a litter box.” (Read this article for more info on stressed or frightened cats)
  3. Morgana didn’t continue to hiss or yowl, but only responded when Remus made noise. This basically means she’s responding to him, letting him know that it’s her turf. Remember that ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ Nike ad from the 90s? It’s sortof like that, but cat speak.

This morning was a bit tense (on me). Morgana yowled softly, glaring at me, and ran downstairs when I opened my door, taking a piece of my heart in her tiny paws. I took Remus out of the carrier and changed the blanket (he’d spilled part of his water all over it. Whoops. baby.), gave him fresh food & water, and followed Morgana down the stairs. After making coffee, I tried to lure her back into loving me, but to no avail. Glaring at me, she hissed and walked away, leaving me to collapse in the middle of the floor like I’d been shot. “PLEASE LOVE ME AGAIN.” My mother, coming upon this scene, me sprawled in the middle of the floor, Morgana shunning me in the other room, lovingly observes “You’re pathetic. She hates you. It’s all your fault.” Thanks mom!

Of course, she’s actually fallen in love with the grey ball of fluff, and I have a feeling that it will be a struggle to get her to part with Remus when I move in a few months.

This is where the step by step begins. While researching (I’ll post the links I found the most helpful below the article), I found that there are several stages of integrating a cat into a household with already established pets. From the cats’ perspective, the newcomer has just been dropped behind enemy lines, while the other cat sees an invader on his/her territory. The most important thing is to go by the pace of the most stressed-out cat. That would be Morgana, in this case.

  1. Isolation: Cats, while they are not solitary animals, are territorial. Bringing a new cat into another cat’s territory spells trouble. This is why you need to make it clear that the newcomer is not invading the entire space. Often times, this is called a “sanctuary room.” Giving the newcomer a separate room will help keep the current cat more comfortable with the other’s existence, as well as a way to keep the cats distanced until the new cat can be examined by a vet.
    Before I left for work, I moved his litter box, toys, food/water, bed, etc. to the guest room across the hall from mine. This sets up the stage for the next three steps of the integration process.
  2. Familiarization-Scent: Pheromones! You know the rubbing thing that cats do? Twirling around your legs, rubbing their cheeks and face on things- They’re marking their territory with their pheromones. The “friendly” pheromones are located on a cat’s face- that’s why cats only do this when they’re comfortable. The goal of this step is to get the cats used to each other’s friendly scent. This can be done by switching the cat’s beds, blankets, or rubbing a clean piece of cloth or clothing (gently) on your cats’ faces and then switching them (ie- cat a’s blanket/cloth is placed in cat b’s room, and vice-versa). Like I said above, I left the blanket that Remus was wrapped in on the drive home in the middle of my bedroom floor last night. I’m going to do the same tonight, although this time, Remus will be in his own room, and Morgana and I will be in my room (as normal).
    1. Familiarization- Room Swapping: This is a more immersive form of scent familiarization. For an hour or so a day, switch the cats rooms. This allows the cat to explore on his/her own, and investigate the other cat’s scent.
  3. Training- Positive Association: Essentially positive re-enforcement, have the cats do something enjoyable while they’re within sound/scent of each other. For example, place their food bowls on opposite sides of a door, or place a small cloth with the other’s scent by the other cat’s food bowl. However, you want to keep this part short. You don’t want to leave the cloth by the food bowls, or leave their food bowls by the door. Otherwise, the cats may tire of it, and just not bother approaching to eat, which is an entirely different problem.
  4. Familiarization- Visual: Once the cats are used to each other’s smells and sounds, let them take a peek at each other: mesh, a gate, a cracked door, etc. Yesterday, Morgana and Remus briefly met face to face when I brought him home, and via the slats in the carrier overnight, but other than that, there’s been no physical meeting. It could take up to a week or longer for the cats to make it to this step. Keep these visual visits timed, a few times a day or so over several days or a week. Like I said before, it all depends on how the most stressed-out cat is doing. With Morgana and Remus, I’m going to leave this step til next week, keeping them scent/sound only for about a week, just in case.
  5. Short Visits (supervised): Once the cats are used to seeing and smelling each other, they should be ready to have short, supervised visits where they can actually interact with each other. These visits should be in a neural room. This will be hard in my house, since we have an open floor plan, but we’ll manage. I’ll probably end up using the bathroom. It’s located in between my room and the guest room, and is a high traffic area, so it’s neutral territory.
  6. Long Visits (supervised): From here, you can see the finish line! Once short visits are accepted/tolerated, you can extend them. While still keeping the cats supervised, always be on the lookout for aggressiveness. This also goes for the short visits- If one or both cats starts exhibiting anger or aggression, separate them back to their rooms, and try again at a later date when they’re calmed down.
  7. Short Visits (unsupervised): After the cats are used to being around each other and don’t show any signs of attacking one another, it’s alright to leave them alone. This is when it’s okay to leave the doors open, and have them mingle normally around the house shorter periods of time.
  8. Full Integration: Once the shorter visits are taken as more normal by both cats, you’ve made it! By this time, both of the cats should be able to act normally around the other, without perceiving any threats. While still needing to keep an eye on their interaction, it should be more casual, and not constant supervision.

I’ll be posting occasionally under the ‘Tail of Two Kitties’ series about how Remus & Morgana are doing, and letting you know how each of the steps are, or are not, working! For now, I’m just getting constant text updates from my sister on the attitude of my cats. Lol (For those curious, Morgana is cranky, but less spooked and more curious. Remus is still happily oblivious, eating and napping the day away.)

Here are some of the great resources I found while I was doing my research. Each of them vary slightly, because of course, each cat is different, so some might not need as many steps as others.

Enjoy!

Resources

“How to Introduce a Second Cat.” Pam Johnson-Bennett. http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/how-to-introduce-a-second-cat/

“Adding a New Cat to Your Household.” Animal Humane Society.
https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/adding-new-cat-your-household

“How to Introduce a New Cat to an Old Cat.” Animal Planet.
http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/how-to-introduce-a-new-cat-to-an-old-cat/

“Introducing Your New Cat To Other Pets.” Humane Society.
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/introducing_new_cat.html