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.


marciamayo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It sounds like an interesting few days. Of course it would have been even more challenging if you had had to give her medicine! I'm pleased to note that the cat skills you learned long ago are still there. Proof is that you and Ellie were friends at the end of the visit. Yes, I think you should add Cat Nanny to your resume. Mary B

Arkansas Patti said...

You had me chuckling all the way thru. The stages were perfect.
Especially how cats seem to have a sixth sense about when we are about to get up.
Hope you don't get too attached in case they do come back to claim her. At least you are now an experienced cat nanny.

Anonymous said...

You are too funny! We loved that Ellie's Great Aunt Marcia was willing to take her in. That kept her from being home alone, waiting on someone to dash by, feed, scoop and run! We're more than willing to arrange some sort of shared custody that would work in your favor a majority of the time.

Much love,

marciamayo said...

Excuse me Whitney, Great Aunt?

Kate said...

very cute, Marcia. Will you please care for our two orange tabbies while we go to Florida for two weeks? You won't need to shop for sirloin; they will fetch wild game for you.

marciamayo said...

Kate, I'll be on a plane in a heartbeat.

Friko said...

Although I don't have a cat at the moment, I can follow every dainty feline step of the way. I am a dedicated cat lover - so is the dog - and have been put in my place by various deities over the years. You have it about right.

Wisewebwoman said...

Gee, the cats that have owned and trained me are legendary. And I am not a cat lover.

Last one was Treasure the beloved cat of a belated friend. Announcement made at funeral of said cat being now orphaned and no adopters forthcoming, I bravely packed cat and paraphernalia and brought home to dog.

4 days later, cat emerged from whereever, thinner but wiser, ready to suck up to dog and warily tread around me, professed non-catfan, until mutual accommodation was finally reached that he secure a job as guard of office filing system from his perch, on blanket, on top of tall filing cabinets.

This happy tenure lasted 7 years.
He is missed.

marciamayo said...

Yep, even cats we never wanted tend to be missed.

Jean said...

It sounds like this cat is willing to let you live here, with him/her, permanently,...even though it was your house to start with. Cats ASSUME so much, don't they?

Cile said...

Your storytelling never ceases to amaze me, Marcia! So true about your anecdotal observations of felines. Glad you got some satisfying cat time and lucky little Ellie to not only be cared for but was also made famous through your narrative!

Homerun Hatch Family News said...

Sounds like fun. It's a great way to get your cat fix while you enjoy bi-coastal living.

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