The Joys (and Trials) of Family Expansion

By Jack Speer | January 13, 2013

We recently added a new member to the fold here in my house and while the reference point in this article will be four-leggeds , the transformation that we are currently experiencing is, I’m quite sure,  very similar in the addition of two-leggeds as well.

Bella Dolce, a beautiful,  20+ pound, two year old Maine Coon kitty came into a household that was already quite the hairy environment,  as four cats and two dogs resided there (not to mention, me.)  This brought the grand total of ‘beasts’ co-habitating under one roof up to seven. My friends just shake their heads and mutter, “Oh my gosh… here she goes again.”  But I tell you what, all the signs were there. She belonged with ME.

So as we maneuver our way as gracefully as possible through the growing pains I am going to share with you, from the perspective of Type, how her family members have been responding.  My belief is, regardless of the species, Type is Type.

Now in my original estimation, I believed Bella Dolce herself to be an ENFJ because she was extremely peaceful and conflict-evasive as each sibling stuck a nose (or other body part) in her face.  She just accepted it and had an air of, “Why can’t we just all get along” which translated in my judgment to be very ENFJ behavior.  But now the more comfortable she has become in her new environment, while I still believe there to be ENFJ characteristics, she may be VERY close on the T/F line as some commando type conduct reveals itself; particularly when she is hungry and I walk past her.  I receive not only a loud order to FEED ME THIS VERY MINUTE but this vocal direction is accompanied by a hefty punch to the leg.  Overall though, she is one amazing cat. 

Now on to the siblings.  I had short interviews with each of her sisters and brothers and this was the result of the interrogation.  (We will take it in order of oldest to youngest.)

SIMBA – INTP:  16 year old female silver tabby
Simba would prefer to be the ONLY animal in the house but seeing as that is not the case, she tolerates her brothers and sisters with a bit of disdain and “How did you get to THIS side of the tracks?” mentality.  Hence the addition of yet another body was not particularly to her liking. So Mom just needs to spend a little more quality time with her (for instance, doing yoga which is one of her favorite pastimes) and reassure her that this in no way takes any love away from her or the closeness of our relationship.  (Hard sell.)

NICK – ISFJ: 16 year old male orange tabby
Now Nick, who started life out as an orphan, has always been a bit needy (though he doesn’t think so) and quite sensitive to change in general. Though Introverted, he is quite vocal, just very discerning regarding the information that he shares.  Nick likes to eat, chant and pretend to be the cool cat on the block (copying whatever his TRULY cool brother Jack does – poor Jack.) Regarding Bella Dolce, his first impression was, “Who ARE you and WHY are you here?” but that quite rapidly became indifference as he went on to chant for more food. 

JACK – ISFP: 15 year old male orange tabby
Jack, who I refer to as my ‘Buddha kitty’ was the one whom I expected to be the most easy-going with the newbie.  But actually he seems a bit bent out of shape. Even as an SP,  I guess maybe old age is rendering him a bit less enamored with life revisions. He is choosing to spend a lot of time outside, away from the ‘madding crowd’ and while I prefer to have him in close to me, I am honoring his request.  We also have a bit of a challenge due to his arthritic back legs because the cat food bowls are up on the counter (out of doggy reach) and I had a stepping stool situated so that he could get up there comfortably. But seeing as Bella Dolce is on a STRICT diet (quite overweight) I have had to monitor EVERYONE’S eating times rather than the normal free-for-all-buffet.  This is NOT tickling his fancy whatsoever… but he is still purring. Gotta love my little live-and-let-live ISFP.

FRANCESCA – ISTJ: 13 1/2 year old chow/border collie mix
Francesca (aka Monkey) does NOT like change OR cats. (She wonders what purpose they serve.)  The border collie in her reveals itself as she nips them in the butt when they pass by.  But at her age, she has fewer teeth now so the danger is far less than it was years ago (also for anyone visiting me.  Friends have learned to sit down quickly in my house.)  She, though, actually took the addition quite in stride. OK… another butt to bite. But think I’m gonna just go sleep.

BO – ENFJ: 6 year old golden retriever
Bo is quite thrilled that yet another being has entered the castle: someone to play with and possibly the opportunity to finish whatever is left over in the food bowl. (Not MUCH in Bella Dolce’s case.)  So for him, there was not even an ounce of adjustment, all taken right in stride. He would like to play with her but she hasn’t quite made up her mind on that one. Ninety pounds of boisterous, tail-wagging, smiley-faced, panting dog in her face is still taking a little getting used to.

BIANCO NOVE – INTJ:  5 year old pure white (deaf) kitty
And last, but certainly not least, Bianco Nove. He has been the biggest obstacle in all in the transition process. I really thought that he would be thrilled to have a cat that wasn’t geriatric in the house to play with, but because he ‘owns’ me (so he thinks) his jealous tendencies have really piped up.  He has been quite mean to her and I just won’t put up with that (especially as an ENFJ).  So we have had to do just a bit of counseling around this issue and I would say we are at about the 75 / 25 mark – 75% of the time he is either mildly nice or ignoring her and 25% of the time he is being a monster.  But we are getting there. And it HAS only been just over three weeks. 

The household tally:  (including me) 5 Introverts / 3 Extraverts – 5 iNtuitives/ 3 Sensors – 5 Feelers/ 3 Thinkers (4 and 4 when Bella Dolce is being a commando) and 6 Judgers/2 Perceivers – Our ‘modal type’ – INFJ. 

So this is the tale of the tails.  I truly believe Bella Dolce has come along to teach me a very important lesson.  Years ago I finally transformed my enabling (NF) tendencies of humans realizing that this kind of behavior serves no one and only prevents others from learning what life lessons they have come here to this planet to learn. (I adopted the outlook, “I can care for you, but I cannot carry you.”) So now I have to learn this same lesson in regard to the four-leggeds and honor the life path that they have come to experience as well.  Being a responsible pet owner can and should include saying, “No.” She will see to it that I adhere to my evolving role, even if it means being on a diet.

And lastly, I will not be adopting ANY more animals for quite some time. I am set at seven. REALLY. I am.  I am…. I am……… (WHAT am I doing surfing

– Maureen Kelly