Now I know there will be some of you disappointed because that headline might, to a few, imply there’s some perversion here but no! Go away you silly people!
No, the old apartment was a bit bare and it needed some other life form to liven it up. Enter the Puddy! She came down from Maine in a cat tote. When I opened the tote, she came out, did a quick perimeter check for food and litter box locations and then disappeared for a week.
All the signs were there, she would come out at night and feed and litter. She was probably the 12th cat in my life so I understand things about them. They can and do go poof! Disappear! Don’t bother looking for her, she’s in her safe-spirit zone in the feline parallel universe. She did come out one evening, our eyes met and she disappeared for another week. She’s over that now. Eventually she uncloaked, looked around and must have said to herself, “I guess this is going to be IT for me now! Might as well check it out.” We’ve been becoming “acquainted” ever since.
I have always been most appreciative of the time-zone in which I have lived because, among other things, all my animals were free to roam. Even the most recent German Shepherd was on a leash only when in town. Other than that, he was free to roam. He never roamed, but he could have.
All my previous cats were mostly male and all came in and went out as they pleased. Meeting my cats in the course of the day was different back then because we were both on missions of our own and we passed each other with simple nods and voiced recognitions.
This cat is an indoor cat and I am amazed how much that has changed my cattage experience. While those before her had birds and squirrels to occupy their time, this poor cat just has me. Send in the clowns!
The thing is, an indoor animal needs something that hunter-gatherers do not need: entertainment! This cat has figured out something that Mediterranean-based human mothers mastered thousands of years ago… the guilt trip! Yes, I feel guilty that I cannot give her a better, more exciting life. This is a small apartment. “Better than a small cage,” I was told at the onset. True but even though she has the whole bedroom to herself, she still has too much “down time.”
I’d be working on the computer when suddenly I feel eyes boring into the back of my head. I turn around and there she is, glaring at me with burning green eyes saying, “I need treats…” or “I need some lap time. I need some attention!” I’ve come to recognize and obey. I drop what I’m doing because she’s bored. I didn’t do her a favor, getting her out of that shelter. No, she’s doing me a favor being here.
I also think this cat experience is different because one speaks differently to a female cat. You baby-talk to her. Where my earlier guys were all brutes, manly cats, masters of their universes, they asked for nothing… this old lady demands. You get closer to an indoor cat. You spend more time at home… with her in your lap. You recognize that she has moods. Cats have moods?? Who knew!
BOSS: Doofus! Why are you late for the meeting?
DOOFUS: My cat fell asleep in my lap, sir. Couldn’t move.
BOSS: Why didn’t you put the cat on the floor and get to the meeting on time?
DOOFUS: You’ve never had a cat, have you, sir!?
Brutus, Boris, Bud, Ballfuzz, the Big Puddy and the others ate what you put down for them. Madame, here, eats nothing to enrich her diet. She only eats the same dry bean-food that came with her. She backs away from the most expensive canned food on the shelves. I toss it into the rubbish after a day. What kind of carnivore doesn’t like meat and fish?
Last time at the vet’s, I called her my “little black hairy wife!”
The vet laughed. I was serious!
Alan F. Clarke is a lifelong area resident and an East Greenwich historian and columnist.
Alan, I loved this piece. Congratulations on discovering the joys of indoor cat companionship. The piece was heartwarming and amusing all at the same time. Thank you for writing and sharing.