Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Stages of Cat Acclimation
The stages below were developed as part of an extensive scientific study performed on one cat. Should the author decide to submit the study for juried review to a research-based veterinary journal, the investigation will be termed a Cat Case Study (hereafter known as CCS).
The system is helpful in that it would allow one to know where to locate a feline (based on how long said feline has been in one's care) if one ever loses a cat or decides to become a Cat Nanny.
Stage 1 – Under the bed
Stage 2 – In the room
Stage 3 – On a lap
Stage 4 –Under the covers
My friends, James and Whitney, were going to Fripp Island over the Labor Day weekend and they agreed that their cat, Ellie, wasn’t exactly a sand n’ surf kind of girl. Since I’m a cat widow who also happens to be bi-coastal, and I’ve been lamenting the lack of feline companionship, James and Whitney were kind enough to think of me when they were considering their vacation cat care options. Actually, it was after a glass of wine or two at a social gathering that I offered to take Ellie in if they would bring her to me. They agreed, high-fiving each other all over the place.
A few weeks later, when I hadn’t heard from them, I sent each an email gently letting them off the hook, figuring they’d found someone who lived closer to come to their home to feed Ellie and shovel out her sandbox. Within seconds, the following responses came in:
From James: We actually have not found another method, so we just need to coordinate with you on the details. I'm sure that Ellie would enjoy some devoted attention from a true feline lover!
From Whitney: Oh No! You're keeping her. We aren't looking for an easier way.
On the Friday before they were to leave, James arrived with Ellie, who looked embarrassed and more than a modicum of disgusted in her not-so-tres-chic cat carrier, along with hard food, soft food, her sandbox, and additional cat accoutrements including hairball goo, ear mite medicine, and a cat back-scratcher. She immediately shot from the carrier as soon as it was opened, and, employing cat radar, somehow found my room and scooted under my bed.
Now, you probably already know I’m not all that good a housekeeper, but, because I was going to have company, especially gay man company, I had dusted off some of the piles in preparation for James’ drive-by drop-off of Miss Ellie. The one place I apparently forgot to dust was under my bed, which is exactly where James went looking for Ellie before I could tell him to STOP! I can still see him there, on his hands and knees, peering through the useless dust ruffle at the dust bunnies, nay, the dust hippopotami, looking for his little lost Ellie.
Next comes the part of the study which enabled me to discern the stages. After James finally left and for about the next twenty-four hours, Ellie emerged from under my bed only to eat and use the sandbox, looking like she'd been sent straight to hell in a tacky cat carrier.
By the next day, Ellie had gifted me with her occasional presence, joining me in the living room but still copping a pretty bad attitude, as if she’d put a deposit down on a much better cruise package than what she'd found awaiting her at my motley (not to mention dusty) port.
As of the third day, Ellie was liking me a little as she would climb into my lap just as I decided to get up to make a sandwich or go to the bathroom. She was also beginning to do those cute little cat gyrations where she would roll over on her back and look like she was going to turn herself inside out. And, then there was that serpentine dance between my legs thing as I tried to walk, as if she might be able trip me up badly enough for an ounce or two of sirloin to fly out of my hands and into her bowl.
By the fourth day of what I thought was supposed to be a three day weekend, Ellie and I were best friends. In fact, by that point, we were sleeping together. She liked the middle of the bed and under the covers best, causing me to try to achieve respite in a modified V position.
And so, there you have it: The Stages of Cat Acclimation, a scientific hierarchy I can use to segue into a whole new career once I give up on second graders. Should James and Whitney ever return for Ellie, which is looking somewhat doubtful, I'm excited to report that I can parlay what I've learned through my extensive research to become a full-time Cat Nanny, or better yet, I can offer workshops on Cat Nannying in order to share this important information with others.
I can change the world one cat at a time.