My cats are somewhat timid. One is so timid, the day we moved into this house, she learned to hide in the space behind the bottom drawer of the old stove in the basement. She'd spend the day there, and I never knew where she hid. Seven months later, the floor was redone and the stove had to be moved, and a disgruntled cat hopped out. Only then did I discover her top-secret hiding place!
Mostly, my cats just hide in closets or under furniture when people come over, although they're getting a bit less shy. Lately, though, I've had renovations done on the house, replacing carpets with laminate or cork flooring and having walls and ceilings painted. The cats have not been thrilled with this, and I've done my best to keep them away from the main action as renos proceed. But after a month of workers tromping through the house, doors that are normally closed left open, lots of banging and moving of furniture and goods, machinery running at random intervals, the cats are learning to be less fearful.
One cat, Magoo, is very outgoing and affectionate, especially to women. He talks a lot. Mostly, he wants petting or a nice lap to sit on, maybe some cuddling and scratching. And failing that, a really comfortable place to sleep. Preferably one I'd want to sit on or sleep on myself. This guy has taste!
However, big meany that I am, I don't allow my cats to sleep with me (I never have. I don't sleep well at the best of times, so sleeping with a nocturnal animal seems counter-productive) and I won't let them onto my bed or in my bedroom. A couple of my cats are not reliable when it comes to peeing on soft furnishings, especially beds. And one is flat out reliable in that he WILL pee on them, no question, it's what he does. Between that and cats' claws on nice fabric, I just don't tempt fate by letting my cats into my bedroom, unless I've prepared the room by moving anything pee-able off the floor, covering or removing the bedspread, and making sure I'm there to supervise. Even then, disaster has been known to strike. Drawing boundaries and sticking to them has proven to work better for all of us than getting angry.
Last week, the floor was redone in my ensuite bathroom, which meant the door was open to my bedroom most of the day. I covered the bedspread with a sheet. I knew the serious pee offenders would remain in hiding so I was safe there, but not from claws. Next day, the closet got a new floor so the bedroom door was open again. And a third day last week, other work needed to be done in my room. I noticed that Magoo sat at the head of the stairs watching calmly as the workers arrived, but the moment that bedroom door got opened, he uttered a little cry, ran down to the end of the hall and assumed his rightful position on my bed.
Today, one worker came to work on the front stairs. A couple of the cats checked this out, one decided it wasn't nearly scary enough and she wasn't interested. But Magoo, my bed-sleeping cat, sat at the top of the stairs staring at the worker. The worker spoke to him, and Magoo just kept staring. Then talking to him. Not demanding, merely questioning.
Suddenly I figured it out. He was waiting for that bedroom door to be opened! As a dog-loving friend has told me about Schnauzers, "once is a tradition, twice is an ancient tradition." Cats hold the same view. Sleeping on the bed three times in one week, well, it's beyond tradition! It must approach religious observance or a scientific law in its absolute necessity in a well-run universe!
Unfortunately, the owner of the bed did not agree, and Magoo has gone to sleep off his disappointment on one of the decidedly inferior leather chairs in the living room. Poor guy!
It's been three months since the cats made their epic trek over the mountains to their new home, in the town where they were born, two months since the movers brought my furniture to the new house. In the meantime, we've had an adventure with delivery guys bringing in new hot water tanks and new fridge, and moving the old one downstairs. I thought locking the cats in the "cat's room" would be safest, and used my standby of bribing them with food to lure them in. Only tiny meek Alis disagreed with my methods. She looked at her dish, she looked at me, shrieked and bolted. I chased her around and around, finally grabbed her, and she struggled hard enough to draw blood. Later, I found drops of blood on the floor. I've never had a cat bite or scratch me that deeply.
So when a plumber came to install the hot water tanks and the new sink in the downstairs kitchen, I just let him come and go as long as the cat gate was closed, and otherwise left the cats alone.
When it was time for the movers, I moved all the furniture the cats were sleeping on (the patio chairs I'd bought plus a couple of pieces I'd had in storage from my previous place here) into the smaller room by the kitchen. The basement is divided in half lengthwise, so with tow pet gates, I could confine the cats to the back half of the space while the movers could move freely in the front section. This worked quite well, at least for the cats. I think the movers were a bit confused!
The basement now has the same furniture the cats had gotten used to, my parents' chairs and couch, the same TV cabinet, the cat scratching posts and lots of familiar smells and textures. The patio furniture was abandoned instantly for the comfortable leather couch with cushions that bear he indelible imprint of big cats. And the contoured lounge chairs ergonomically designed for cat naps.
A cousin delivered the last items from the old house a few days after the sale had closed, and she exclaimed at how calm the cats were, that she hardly knew they were the same cats.
The joke for years has been that I have invisible cats, because no-one has ever seen these legendary cats. My cats were all born feral and I rescued them from living outside on a farm. Feral cats are never exactly like cats born into domestic life. They're often skittish or easily spooked, and some have turned wild when let out of the house. Mine are exclusively indoor cats for this reason, but I make sure they have plenty of room, windows to look out of, an interesting environment.
These days, they'll hide if a visitor is unexpected, but if I've told them who's coming, they're often watching the door when I open it. Poised to flee, perhaps, but they're still in plain sight, which never used to happen.
Last week, I had friends coming to work on art projects and I told the cats we'd be downstairs. As it turned out, there were more people than expected and I didn't have enough chairs downstairs. We stayed around my dining table upstairs. As everyone was leaving, I looked down the stairs into the basement and four pairs of eyes were looking up at me. Here were my skittish invisible cats, watching the company leave, looking downcast. "You TOLD us we had PEOPLE coming! Nobody came to see US!"
I think they've adjusted to the new house.
On August 4, I loaded my cats into cat carriers for the 4 hour drive to my new home, after nearly 3 years living in my parents' house. The cats had adjusted well, took over most of the house and had their routines and choice sleeping spots. I was always fascinated to see how they would rotate places to sleep throughout the day, so no one cat ever dominated the same spot all the time.
I rehearsed loading the cat carriers and my luggage into the car to be sure I had the right strategy for fitting them all in, before I actually had reluctant cats in the carriers. One of them weighs 25 pounds, so flinging him around is not an option. Anything I do with him has to be very deliberate and planned out in advance.
The capture of cats used to a calm life did not go without incident. Four went quietly. But Alis, the youngest and normally the most prone to being meek, refused to follow suit. I had to chase her, and finally, we stood still, me on one side of a chair, her on the other. I said, very calmly, "Alis, you can't keep doing this forever. One way or another, you WILL be going. So we can make this easy or we can make it hard. You will walk past me slowly, stop, and let me pick you up. That's the way it's got to be." She thought about it, then she did it. Once she was captured and stuffed into the cat carrier, she was FURIOUS! Meek little Alis let out a bellow of rage like I've never heard from any cat!
Once they were all loaded, my car sounded like a cat factory, with every tone of cat voice from tiny high-pitched mews to deep rumbling murmurs and chortles. I closed all the windows so the neighbours didn't think I was operating in illegal cat-smuggling ring or something.
A final check that nothing had been left behind, and we were off. I planned my trip so I had food and water, and if I needed bathroom breaks, I only had to stop briefly, in shaded spots. We made it in record time. Good thing, too, because somebody had an accident and soiled his cat carrier, and none of us were very happy about it. After that, I got PUH-LENTY of complaints! But my car is so small, I can only open the carriers by opening the door, maybe even taking the carrier out, and letting a tame cat with no survival skills loose in the wild is not a risk I'm prepared to take. They weren't all comfortable, but they were safe, and assuming everything went according to plan, they'd be in thier new home in a few hours.
They all survived. I backed into my carport and opened the door to the house, then carried each carrier in and down the stairs. The cats have the run of the basement of my house, which is as big as the main floor, with a big TV room, a smaller room off of a second kitchen, a bathroom, and what was a bedroom that I use for storage and for litter boxes. There are two other rooms down there, but the cats only go in when I'm with them, for their own safety in the case of the workshop and utility room, or because of an off-white carpet in a guest room that would not do well if subjected to cat traffic for very long.
I'd set up the litter boxes in the "cat's room" ahead of time, then put all the carriers in that room, unlocked them and set them free. Lots of complaining about the poor service, the cramped quarters, and the lack of bathroom facilities in the Economy section.
I set up a pet gate at the bottom of the stairs, and my cats are not agile enough to jump or climb over it. One cat, Fritz, might have been at one time, and in fact, I think she still can. She chooses not to.
The books all say to keep your cats in one room at first, when they move to a new house, so they have time to get adjusted. Well, my cats don't read those books, and they insisted that if I was going in and out through that door, then they certainly could do the same. So I let them wander.
To my surprise, even though there was no furniture, they explored quite happily and were not the least bit nervous about being in a new space. The main room in the basement is 30 feet long, and they happily wandered around in it. I was entertained by the way their claws kept getting stuck in the carpet. They haven't lived with carpet for years and they've lost the knack of walking on it.
Over the next few days, I bought some patio chairs so I could sit with the cats and watch DVDs on my laptop (My furniture didn't arrive for another month. Long story...) and they got used to having more places to sleep. On the lounge chair, on the ottoman, under the chair, beside the chair.
That first day, Alis disappeared. I looked and looked and looked for her, called her, asked the other cats where she was. For hours. There was no furniture, no open doors, no nooks or crannies I didn't know about. Yet I found no trace. There's a space under the stairs I was worried about, with access either from a closet in the hallway, or form the guest room, and I even checked in there, but she wasn't there.
Finally, when it was time for their bedtime treat of canned cat food (one medium sized can among 5 cats), suddenly Alis appeared. I've never found out where she goes.
In a very short time, they seemed content. lonely and a bit bored maybe. I bought them a few toys, a couple of balls and a big duck chewtoy (I think it was meant for dogs, but Lillibet enjoyed it. He also wrestles with shoes and has been known to tussle with vegetables that find their way onto the floor. His unusual name should give you a clue that this cat is not exactly run of the mill).
So I left them in their new home for a few days to head back and continue packing up my old home in my parents' house.
From last summer. Note that the biggest body gets to soak up all the sun! There are 4 cats in this photo. Find them all!
Dramatis personae (or perhaps felinidae): Alis, a young and slightly shy female cat, Fritz, an older, wiser and much more arrogant female, Magoo, a large strapping male cat who often ends up as the bully of the piece, simply because his entire world revolves around himself, so of course yours does, too.
I've given the cats their bedtime treat of canned food. Alis sits beside the almost-empty water dishes, staring at me intently, willing me to get the telepathic message that SOMETHING must be done about the water situation NOW! Fritz walks over, Alis wraps her tail around both dishes protectively and whines. "Don't come here! Water dishes empty! Mom fixing them!" Fritz: "Look, I just want a drink." Alis, "No! NO-O-O! Mom fixing them! Don't come here!" Fritz leans into Alis's face, Alis starts to shriek in a high-pitched whine. Things are getting heated. The discussion turns ugly.
I go over, take both dishes to fill them. Well! NOW what is Alis supposed to do? She walks a few steps away, looking mystified, as she often does. Fritz smirks at her, then sits in the middle of the mat where the water dishes go. Ha ha!
I set one dish down, Fritz starts to drink. There's no room for the second dish because Fritz has taken over the entire mat, and she won't move. What to do?! Alis hovers anxiously. I squeeze Fritz's tail out of the way, and make enough room to set the second dish down. Immediately, Fritz switches to that dish (that water must be fresher, see, because it's newer). She IS the senior cat after all, she gets first dibs. Alis carefully steps over the other dish and crowds herself between the wall and Fritz. She looks beseechingly at me as she laps gingerly at the water. Life is so unfair! Fritz ignores her and doesn't move.
And now that we've reached this delicate detente between the two girls, both high-strung sensitive types prone to fits of nervous temper (if they could slam doors or flounce or sulk openly, they would), in walks Magoo, who has been nowhere in all of this. He outweighs both girl-cats combined.
"Oh, is there water? Great!" He shoulders both of them aside, leans over one dish and drinks out of the other. Drama ended.
I have five cats. They're all related. Their mothers were barn cats on the farm where I used to live. I rescued about 30 over the years, found homes for 18 or so. I kept some as pets. Five of them live with me now. I swear, sometimes it's like living with little furry aliens!