In addition to our three children, we have two black Labs and a black cat. The cat, Smuckers, (Don’t ask, I didn’t name him.), was part of the family first. He showed up on our front porch on my daughter’s 10th birthday. He was a kitten, about 6 or 8 weeks old. Although we were not in the market for another pet (we had another Lab at the time), we couldn’t imagine giving him away. Smuckers got along fine with the other dog and I even have a picture of them eating dinner side by side. Six months later, we had to put our dog down and for a couple months, Smuckers was our only pet.

Enter Anna and Chloe. When we adopted these litter mates, they were 1 ½ years old. We were told that they got along well with cats so we felt good about bringing them home. Within 30 minutes of their arrival, Smuckers came down to investigate. That’s when the barking started. We tried to calm the dogs down as they were freaking out the cat. Our other dog did not bark at him. Smuckers responded by getting in his Halloween cat stance and hissing and pawing at the dogs. Needless to say, they weren’t too worried and chased him up the stairs and into our room.

Smuckers lives primarily in our room these days. He only ventures out when he is hungry and he thinks the dogs are asleep. Smuckers’ food and litter box are housed in the master bath. It is the one room the dogs are not allowed to be in. The bedroom itself is not off limits. The dogs venture in if we are up there, but most of the time, they give the cat his privacy.

All of our animals are solar. They love to lay with their black coats in the sun. The first bit of sunlight during the day starts in our room, opposite the bed. It is a pretty good sized spot – the width of two windows. The cat lies in the middle of it until it moves across the room to the bed. The dogs usually lay in the sunlight that comes in the living room. I open the front door for them and they bask until their coats are hot to the touch. Sadly, their sunlight does not come in until it moves past the garage – a couple hours after the bedroom sunlight. As the weather gets colder, they have been trying to overtake the cat’s morning spot.

One morning, I heard Anna, our alpha dog, bark upstairs. I couldn’t understand what she wanted. It was a single bark, usually reserved for telling us she needed to go out. I found her in the bedroom, standing over the cat. Apparently, alpha dog means nothing in the feline world. Smuckers wouldn’t budge. She barked again. The cat got all puffed up, hissed and slapped Anna in the nose. (He is declawed.) She let out a yelp and backed up. Chloe heard her sister’s call for help and came barreling up the stairs. She barked at poor Smuckers and chased him on top of the bed. After thanking her sister, Anna curled up in the now abandoned sunlight and took a nap. Smuckers stared down from the bed at her and silently planned his revenge. At our house, Ebony and Ebony live together in a strained harmony.