Broccles’s unrequited love for the cats recently reached a new level of fervour. To demonstrate his enthusiasm for their company, he began urinating at them in a way that seemed to say, “you’re my wife now”. As this was occurring while the three of them climbed around on the furniture, it did not do a lot of good for the upholstery.
The cats responded by encouraging him. Pochi started rolling around on the floor in front of him, purring seductively, then slinking away before he had a chance to mount her. Monkey took to sitting just above him and batting him in the face with her very fluffy tail. The scent of her tail drives him wild with passion. As nobody has told him that rabbits can’t climb, he then started following the cats wherever they went. Despite their flirtations, they were completely horrified if he caught them.
“Maybe we should get him neutered,” I said, as I removed the chair cover to be laundered yet again. I consulted the vet about it when I took him in for his vaccinations. She agreed that neutering would have a good chance of stopping this behaviour. Below is a video of them in action, though really it needs a Seventies funk track. Poor Pochi was a little traumatised, but it didn’t stop her from teasing Broccles later. For email subscribers, the link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh7aWLlnv24
Then everything changed. It happened after we brought the guinea pigs indoors for the winter. One guinea pig, Colin, is comfortable with wandering freely around the house, while the others prefer to patrol the borders of their tower-block apartments and rumble at each other. With the others all safely behind bars, Colin developed the notion that he was King of the House. He demonstrated his dominance by mounting. The cats are too big and fast to be mounted by a guinea pig, but Broccles is blind in one eye and never sees him coming – particularly as Colin always goes for the front end. Broccles’s bad behaviour towards the cats stopped dead.
Stroking Broccles one afternoon, I was horrified to discover some kind of hideous growth on the side of his face. Some frantic googling later, I realised it was “boar glue”. This is guinea pig semen, called boar glue because it sets as hard as superglue and is nigh-on impossible to remove from fur. I did my best to remove it. First I tried rabbit shampoo and warm water. Broccles was deeply unhappy about this: he got soaking wet ears and shampoo in his eye, and ran away with a bubbly head before I could rinse him. The boar glue had not shifted.
“The phrase insult to injury springs to mind”, said Bunty.
Once Broccles was allowing me near him again, I tried scissors and a comb. I broke the teeth of the comb trying to slide it behind the glue to guide the scissor blades. The scissors themselves scraped against the glue but made no dent in it.
A second and third hideous growth appeared on Broccles’s face over the next couple of days. I caught one before it had set, and was able to chip it out of his fur in little pieces over the course of an hour. Monkey helped by joining in with what she thought was an unfair allocation of petting, standing over Broccles and getting right in my face.
I tried a new tack. At feeding time, I began feeding Broccles before any of the guinea pigs. I hoped this might alter Colin’s perception of the household dynamic. I don’t know for sure if it has worked, but for the past three days there have been no new boar glue incidents. What’s more, Broccles’s facial growths have been gradually disintegrating as he and Colin groom and scrape at them with teeth and hind claws. Broccles has begun to look at the cats with a twinkle in his rabbity eye…