I have to give a hearty shout-out to my amazing, patient Shepherd girl. Hamilton, my new Ragdoll kitten, took about two days to stop looking in terror at my giant hand descending towards him, and just the TICK tick TICK tick of Athena's claws on the hard wood floors outside his room caused him to stretch his head forward like an alert mongoose before skittering under the bed.
But behold, the all-encompassing power of Gerber Meat Sticks (horns of triumph sound)! Yes, my secret weapon has always been these little Vienna sausage-esque miracles packed in broth. I have yet to meet a dog or cat that doesn't LOVE them.
Hamilton is able to be around Athena when she's lying down and/or he's occupied with meat sticks. So using short positive encounters with lots of praise, Hamilton has decided that Athena is not quite as scary as he thought originally. Athena is an old hand by now at being around cats, but honestly, the jerky unpredictable nature of baby cats unnerves her. They arch and hiss within a nanosecond of forgetting to be afraid and are likely in the next beat to crazily jump and attack a dog's paws. Which is exactly what he did the other night.
Now, before the paw incident, Athena with great exaggeration turned her head completely away when he stared at her with his beady blue eyes, yawning and licking her lips, trying desperately to use dog calming signals that he's not so great at interpreting yet. It's sweet how she tries SO hard to indicate "I'm not a threat! Please stop staring at me!"
On the paw-night, Athena was exhausted and in an old-lady grumpy mood (her face always gets a sunken look when she's really tired). Hamilton would not leave her feet alone, and she gave a short rumbling "rrrr" at him, which he completely ignored. I took mercy on her and let her sleep in the other room to get some much-needed peace, and let Hamilton attack MY feet instead.
Then last night it happened--the thing that with every kitten I've owned has made me go "Gotcha!" Athena and Hamilton softly touched noses. I know, not the end of world hunger, but when that happens, it's a done-deal. Twenty minutes later, Athena was sound asleep next to me on the couch with her head against my leg, and Hamilton was sound asleep on my lap, completely oblivious to the fact that his head was resting on top of hers.
GSDs continue to astound me. Able to ward off bad guys, yet gentle enough that a two-pound baby kitten no bigger than their snout can fall fast asleep on them, confident that this five-story beast is indeed, a faithful new friend.