Not having grown up with animals, I do not consider myself to have the 'natural' knack that others possess. Dogs seem to like me, and despite my initial reaction to walk away, they appear to consider me somewhat of a guardian!
I did not think twice about saying 'yes', and even added the two fatal words, 'of course', when agreeing to look after my neighbour's feline, while he vacationed on the Floridian coast. The week prior to our Idaho trip was filled with lots of adventures that I would rather have done without! I promised I would 'pop over' on the Tuesday before our trip to pick up a key.
Although my German neighbour lives just a few houses down, and the walk takes about thirty seconds, if I choose to go along the back of the condos, being ever the prim and proper Englishwoman, I decided it would be more appropriate to knock at the front door. In my work finery, I marched, in the rain, Union Jack umbrella held high (nothing like inflaming the patriotism of a German, albeit an ex-pat) and headed up the road. To reach his front door, I had to climb three levels of steps. Wooden, narrow and with all the rain, very slippery, I was not surprised when he opened the door and said, 'Why didn't you come around the back?' The umbrella was not noticed! I was introduced to the cat. She sat and turned her head to the wall, having no trouble resisting my sweet tones. As my neighbour says, "She is a cat!" Apparently, she picks and chooses her times to be affectionate, and at fifteen years old, she is unlikely to change her ways. After a quick tour of the plants, litter box and food bowl, I felt equipped to take on the task of visiting three times daily, to feed the animal, water the plants every other day, and sift through the litter box. (The sifter being provided.) I told my neighbour we would be in touch regarding travel plans for the ensuing weekend, and the outcome of those plans were at the start of my previous post!
Before we departed, and before my week of torment began, we were rather more busy than had been expected. During the afternoon of the third, (of July,) we were asked if anyone was available to serve some subpoenas. With three of our four servers otherwise occupied, the fourth was on his way to an adjacent county courthouse, to pick up some papers before they closed, as the only time to deliver them would be over the weekend. I became the 'available' person! I had to deliver eight documents. It was a blessing that all were going to be delivered to an attorney,just across the river, on the south side of town. However, around three in the afternoon, everyone who had not yet left town, to head south, had packed up their belongings and taken to the road. The traffic was at a standstill in most directions, but in that heading southbound, it was backed up beyond our office. As we were not sure as to the parking restrictions of my destination, Dana suggested Samantha accompany me, in case she had to circle the block while I delivered the documents. This was advantageous, as she brought her directional device and it chose an alternative route! The lady with the English accent proceeded to tell us to backtrack and led us around the winding roads behind my house, down to the highway, where the traffic appeared to be moving at a reasonable pace. However, by the time we turned on to the H.W.Y., (as she called it,) so did the remainder of the travelers! We sat for a long while, moving a couple of inches every five minutes, and were adamant that we should not backtrack to return to the office, due to the amount of traffic choosing to go north! When the reports said, 'Everyone will be going out of town for the weekend', they were not exaggerating!
We arrived at our destination, which seemed somewhat deserted in comparison to the H.W.Y., and I entered the building, and took the elevator to the third floor. A very nice receptionist said that the person whom I sought was in is office, and asked the nature of my business. I told her that I had some papers to deliver. The call to the attorney indicated that there was 'a lady' in reception to see him. (Obviously, we had not met before!) The attorney appeared, casually dressed, as if he was ready to head out as soon as the traffic had dissipated, and smiled as I rose from my chair. As is normal in such situations, the smile turned upside down when I indicated that I had eight subpoenas for his attention, which I believed he was expecting, albeit, by his reaction, not today! Not content with adding work to the end of his day, (although if he waited for the traffic to dissipate, he should have been glad of the distraction!) I added insult to injury, by giving him a business card, and suggesting if he needed a process server, we were the company to use! He was very polite, and shook my hand, attempting to turn the frown around, and I stood in an awkward silence, waiting for the elevator to come back to collect me!
Samantha was busy updating her face book page, as I returned, claiming that her mother had left her in the car, with no air conditioning and no windows cracked. I advised her that it was just as well she was not an animal, or I would have been arrested for cruelty!
My Monday morning started with the short walk to my neighbour's home. The cat was not particularly pleased to see me, as she snarled upon my entry, but paced around her food bowl, as if to say, "Feed me and leave!" I did just that! I then returned to my home and continued with my morning chores, before being collected to go to the office. It was going to be a challenging week, as Jason, our office help (and courier!) had left town at the weekend, as his grandmother had been admitted to a hospice, and her departure was imminent. Jerry, our server, is pretty amazing in such circumstances, and picks up the slack with deliveries and collections, as much as he can.
I returned home at lunch time for a swim, and to deal with Sneakers, who was just as volatile! Samantha accompanied me into the condo. I had let her know that the cat does not go outside, so we would have to be careful when opening the back door, should she be 'around'. I unclasped the hook, which was a replacement for the broken latch, and we entered the small patio area. Taking precautions, my cautious daughter closed the back gate and snapped the latch - the broken latch. As we exited, we found we were trapped! Our options were limited. Samantha suggested that one of us enter the 'lion's den', and exit through the front door, walk around the back and try to unlatch the gate from the other side. I was a little dubious, not for fear of being attacked by the monster, but I was unsure as to whether there was an alarm on the front door, which would be set off by its opening. We pushed, pulled, lifted, and pressed on the gate. After about ten minutes of violent behaviour, we must have loosened the mechanism, as the latch finally relented, and unclasped! We were free! By Monday evening, reality had set in, and the unpleasant cat realised that 'daddy' was not coming home today!
Tuesday morning was a little different. Bounding down the stairs, and purring, I wondered if someone had exchanged the insensitive, geriatric feline for one of a different temperament. As venomous as she was the previous day, she was as loving and sweet today. Brushing up against my legs, she waited patiently for me to give her fresh water, and some food. I watered the plants, sifted through the litter, and then stroked her behind her ears, which she seemed to enjoy. Tuesday was a good day. Lunchtime she did not appear, but as I arrived a little after six, she greeted me with enthusiasm, and let me brush her! (As was suggested on the instruction notes that I had almost ignored!) She purred, stretched out and turned as I brushed, indicating that this was the way to her heart. I felt that I had turned a corner!
By Wednesday, I realised that Jason's return was not as imminent as we had thought, and grandma was fighting to remain earthbound. He had suggested that he would head back to Austin, but Dana had insisted he take as much time as was needed. Jason's mum is one of our 'out of town' servers, and she was very grateful to have the extra pair of hands, (and feet) in the circumstances. In times such as these, we can all do a little extra to make sure that those in need are taken care of. I chose not to go to Joe's as is normal on a Wednesday when I visit my 'nail lady', as I felt the hour would be better spent in the office. I got myself ready and headed down to see my new found friend, the cat. Hissing and spitting as if I was Batman, the unfriendly mammal had returned to her usual inhospitable self, and I was the enemy! She hovered precariously around her bowl, allowing me to fill it, but then showed me her teeth to let me know that my job was done and I could now leave. I left. She was, after all, a cat! Fickle! She failed to appear at lunchtime, but was back to being in need of attention in the evening. However as I picked up the brush, and attempted to show her some affection, a short sharp noise emitted from somewhere. At first, I assumed it was her digestive system revolting to the three meals a day, but as she got up, and walked across the room, she turned, and showed me that the long hiss was indeed from between her clenched teeth. What a cutie!
Completely discouraged, I locked up and left the area. I was met by a younger neighbour, walking her puppy. The contrast was like night and day! The puppy jumped up at me, was so glad to see me, (we had met the previous week,) and walked by my side along the back path. My German neighbour's next door neighbour came out of her condo, and I stopped to chat. The puppy was reluctant to leave my side but realised there were more trees to explore, so skipped off reasonably happily, into the distance. My neighbour's neighbour had taken care of Sneakers the previous weekend, and asked me how I was doing. I told her of the changeable behaviour, and she laughed. She was a 'cat person', but had never encountered such a change in an animal, as she had in Sneakers, in all the years she had been a cat 'mom'. She had said that Frank, our German neighbour, had suggested she might like to go in and 'sit' with the cat for a while, just to give it some company, but she said that the animal had no intention of sitting with anyone, and promptly took itself upstairs! Her offer of help (or respite) was declined and I assured her that I would not be beaten by such a small animal, and although I had no intention of 'taming' her, (the cat,) would continue to see the job through to the bitter (and it was turning out to be) end!
The 'gifts' that were left around the living area were not expected. I had always assumed cats to be clean animals, and the fact that her litter box had been cleaned and refilled, meant that rebellion could be the only reason for her not using it! Sneakers had rebelled several times, and rather prolifically! Looking at me collecting the articles, I would be prepared to swear that she was smiling. I, on the other hand, was not! Thursday and Friday saw me exercising rather extensively, as I had to 'bend and stretch' continuously, on every trip. Hissing and snarling, we came to an understanding. I would continue to feed her, and she would continue to rebel! I did not relay the chain of events to Frank when he text'd me to see if everything was okay. Instead I asked for the date of his return, and in return let him know that the cat was fine! Which she was! In turn, he sent pictures of the beautiful Floridan beaches, and sunsets, letting me know that he was having a wonderful time!
I almost forgot my duties on Saturday morning, having risen early and sent Dana off to work with a cup of coffee! As I started my morning chores, a nagging feeling began to grow. At around 8:30am, I remembered the fiend that was probably growing impatient. Rebellion was an understatement for what greeted me! I stood and looked at the deposits scattered around, and only hoped that the anger had been restricted to downstairs. I assumed it had as the area covered was in the living room, and had not extended to the kitchen or the small half bath, the door to which had been left open. It was time for a few home truths to be told to this animal, in no uncertain terms. As I cleared away the mess, I was very stern in my tone. This was unacceptable! The message was received and a look of "Yes, and your point?" was with what she responded. As she walked around her bowl, I stood with my arms folded. (I would add that although fed three times a day, the amount given is not very much. I followed the instructions to the letter, and the cup used to dispense the food was only filled to the level shown.) Sneakers stopped pacing and looked up with a sneer. I sneered back! Realising that I was looking at a cat, and not a child, I relented, and put the food into her bowl, all the while, letting her know that this was unacceptable behaviour! Like she cared!
Samantha and I had a very pleasant morning shopping, and returned to the condo at around one, and I headed along for the lunchtime fracas! No unwanted gifts were found! I was quite amazed. Although not wishing to socialise, the unpredictable Miss Sneakers was fairly well behaved. She did not snarl or hiss. She just sat, looking haughty, but believing she had not lost a battle, merely agreed to be less unpleasant. However, friends we were not! I walked from the back gate down to the pool, and spent the afternoon swimming, reading, and dozing intermittently. It had been a long, hard week. We had not left the office before seven most evenings, and the workload had been rather voluminous. That coupled with being a 'man down', we were, as they say, slammed! I had not foregone my afternoon swim, however, as the main strain had taken place later in the day. It was as if everyone had taken a siesta and woken up, each day, at three thirty!
My final day of torture had arrived, and I walked down to see the feline on Sunday morning. No new gifts, and a change of heart (perhaps). I wondered if she had come to terms with 'daddy' not coming back at all, as he had been absent for more than a week. I started to feel a slight tug on the compassionate heartstrings, but that did not last long. I could imagine that later in the day, our Sneakers would be just as cantankerous and obstreperous as she had been previously. However, mutual respect was given, and I chatted pleasantly as I watered the plants, and checked her litter box. She allowed me to tickle her behind her ear, and she purred as I did so. I poured her food into her bowl, and she purred as she ate. I did not stick around to 'play', as I was not that compassionate. She would, provided flights are on time, not be spending the night alone. 'Daddy' was due home. I wondered how much she understood, and how much was just, "blah, blah, blah", as her "meow" is just "meow" to me. It is probably a good thing that she could not tell tales, as she would get her side of the story in first, and my having to respond to constantly telling her that she was "horrible" may be embarrassing! (Despite always giving her the benefit of the doubt upon my arrival, and calling in a very happy, calm and inviting voice!!!)
Next week looks to be as busy as last, as we will still be down a man, but at least I will not have to deviate to feed a feline! I doubt that my experience will prevent me from nodding my head when asked to do a favour, even though everything inside will be shouting "No!" I plan to spend my afternoon doing very little, but things do not always go according to those plans! I shall continue to smile as life is really rather smooth at the moment, and although I will never emulate Eartha Kitt, (or for the younger reader, Michelle Pfeiffer,) and be a true Catwoman, I can truly say that this week has been a "Holy Feline Faux Pas"! Next week, I hope, will be ......... another story!