Recently, a friend of a friend had a significant flood at their home, rendering it uninhabitable. Her and her husband had to vacate for a couple of weeks while the restoration company did their thing. The two of them could stay in a hotel; their fur-kid could not. Finding a temporary home for a cat is no small feat. First, you have to find someone willing to take the creature in. Second, you have to pray to GOD that the cat doesn’t throw a huge fit; because when a cat throws a fit, shit gets real, super quick.
I haven’t had a cat in my care for years. I get my feline-fix from friends with cats of their own, and that generally tides me over. When I heard about the predicament this couple was in, I didn’t hesitate. I thought I could help some nice peeps out of a jam, and it would be a good chance to test the waters to see if I was ready for a cat in my life again.
Zeus shows up in his spiffy carrying case with dry food, wet food, food dishes, litter box, giant bag of litter and detailed written instructions, in tow. We release him into my home. Cats need to do things on their terms, not yours. I let him scope the place out, unmolested. I set up the litter, his food and water dishes, and watched from a safe distance as he checked out his accommodations.
This shall be my couch, and my pillows. Leave me now.
The first night at precisely 2am, the chatting started. It wasn’t terribly loud, nor pained, it was more of a confident recitation of grievances. OK, I thought, that’s fair. He’s been uprooted from his parental units, removed from his home, and placed in a strange environment. He’s got questions, and no one has provided him with answers. I would have preferred to have had this conversation four or five hours earlier, but, well, he’s a cat.
Some cats don’t like to be picked up, or approached unsolicited at all. Doing so can result in terrifying noises, and drawing of blood. Still, he seemed to need consoling, so I got up. He pretty much looked right through me. Attempts to touch him were met with a deft slinking of the spine, deflecting my advances. Kisses on his little fuzzy head were artfully dodged as if he was channeling Neo in The Matrix. So really, it was just like being in a relationshit again. Oh joy.
The following evening, I went to bed around 10pm, and it was smooth sailing. Until 2am on the nose. Then it was groundhog day all over again, as he sang the song of his people.
Five evenings in, things were better’ish. Zeus would delay his queries until 4:30am or so, which I’m sure he felt was a massive compromise on his part.
At the end of the first week, I was getting a little punchy, what with the sleep deprivation, and all. I began to appreciate what it must be like to have an infant. And I was thankful that I did not have infant.
I purchased a plethora of toys for him, in the hopes that they would amuse him; not unlike a court jester futilely trying to win the adoration of his king. The mice and tiny catnip pillows were met with approval. I think. There was no thanks, of course. You don’t dole out thanks for what is clearly expected.
By the start of the second week, we were more or less done with the midnight inquisitions. But that leaves a void, and nature abhors a void. I recall the first time it happened. It was around 5am, and someone punched me in the face. I started to wake, just in time for the second jab. Zeus was sitting inches from my head, and pawing at me. Pawing makes it sound cute and playful, though. Let’s call it what it was – a punch. A punch with nails. OK, so he hits like a girl. That’s still neither cute, nor playful. Especially at 5am. Apparently, it was breakfast time, and I had selfishly overslept.
The early morning punching rounds subsided (in his defense, I had left my face exposed). I did however, wake up around 5am a few days later, probably out of a Pavlovian Response. He was about a foot from my face, perfectly still, and just staring at me. That was a bit unsettling.
One afternoon I came home to find my new roommate had taken a dump in the living room, which roommates will do from time to time. The litter was clean, and fresh, and it only happened the once. I can only assume he was either annoyed, bored or displeased with me in some way while I had been out.
So, yeah. He was kind of a dick.
I hate it here. This place sucks. You suck. This stupid chair sucks. That fireplace is fake, and it sucks too. Now go scoop out my feces.
That said, he IS a cat. They’re wired differently.
It wasn’t all bad. I discovered a rapt audience in him as I practiced juggling. Back to the ‘court jester and the king’ thing. Zeus watched politely and patiently, never jeering or mocking me when I dropped a ball. And I dropped them frequently. Anyone else would have yawned, rolled their eyes, and walked away. But not Zeus. So polite!
Despite his…let’s call them nuances, it was comforting to have another warm body around the house again. I wouldn’t say he was a great listener, but at least he didn’t interrupt me while I was telling a story, and then make it all about him. Just sayin’.
The last few days were perhaps the most amicable. He was settling in. He had claimed a number of perches as his own, he was sleeping on the bed with me, and he was even letting me rub his belly. Still no kissing allowed, but that’s cool.
When his guardians came to collect him, it was a bittersweet moment for me. It’s definitely emptier here without him.
Pets – they’re what makes a house, a home.
OK, well, maybe this isn’t the worst place I could be.