I always worry about my cats whenever I have to leave them for any length of time. I have not used a professional pet sitting service, although I’ve received a couple of recommendations, when I do have to leave the cats. Instead I leave the cats in the care of a friend I trust.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday and a brief business trip, I asked Tracey, a dear friend and fellow ailurophile, to check in on my cats for me, to which she agreed. (In turn, I’ve checked in and loved on her five cats for her when she and her husband Sam went to Europe earlier this year.) Boudicca loves Tracey and Sam dearly, greets them noisily and with dancing paws at the door, and demands adoration and constant snuggles whenever they visit. The adoration is mutual. Everyone wins!
Having friends who truly understand cat behavior come to visit has another advantage. I’ve been trying to expose the Downton Tabbies to other people and develop positive associations with them. Judging from what I’ve gleaned from their histories, the boys very likely did not have many positive associations with people. At best, those positive associations were irregular and brief. While they are certainly much calmer than they were in August, they are still skittish and often difficult to handle. Garrus, in particular, is evasive and completely unaccustomed to being handled so it is quite the challenge getting him to accept being picked up even a few inches off the ground for a few seconds.
Boudicca with Us
- In general, she is fairly chill and sweet, spending most of her time in her box in my office. She is overtly lovey on occasion, begs from Aaron at dinner, and turns into a liquid purring cat during our regularly scheduled lap time.
- If her food or water bowl is low, she lets you know A LOT. If she can see the bottom of her food bowl, she’ll be in the kitchen, wasting away…starving…
- Boudicca has a bad habit of stealing Garrus’ kitten kibble. She’s not even subtle about it.
- She has always been rather googly when it comes to using the litter box. We sometimes have to pick her up to remind her that there is an available Cat Genie when the other is running. Other times she has accidents, although this is partially attributed to her hyperthyroidism. She also throws up on occasion. Yuck.
- From day one, she has always been a mama’s girl but she does seem to enjoy it when Aaron visits and talks to her.
Garrus with Us
- He is a reserved, stoic cat. Nothing ruffles his fur much. He’s not even scared of the dreaded Vacuum Monster. (Shocking, I know.)
- He’s lovey when he wants to be and that’s that. When he is lovey, he’s very finicky about when, where, how, and for what duration. No picking up please.
- The highlight of his day is being able to sunbathe for several hours without interruption.
- He does enjoy playtime but only with particular toys and has to think about it for a bit before deciding to participate.
- If his food or water bowl is low, he just gives you a mournful look and wait patiently by the door until you to get the message.
- Since he’s been with us, he’s had an impeccable litter box record.
- He occasionally has wheezing spells, which may be asthma. Since we have transitioned to the Cat Genies, which do not produce any cat litter dust, he has wheezed significantly less.
Charlie with Us
- While he can be skittish on occasion, he’s often pretty talky (squeak squeak!), purry, and very receptive to rubs, especially if he’s up on his tower. He’s learning about lap time and being picked up and enjoys visits with both of us.
- If he’s not sleeping, Charlie spends rest of his time playing. Charlie is pretty good about using the litter box. The only time we had an issue is when he got sick.
- Because he’s essentially a furry toddler, he puts things in his mouth that he’s not supposed to, like bits of cardboard from the scratching pads, bits of paper, leaves that were tracked in by shoes, etc. We had two non-toxic plants in the house, one of which we had to move onto a very high shelf to keep it out of his reach because he kept getting into it and trying to eat it. We ended up giving the plants to my mother because he simply cannot be trusted not to mouth things! For that reason, we have to be conscientious what toys we get for him: for example, nothing with feathers or anything that can be easily torn off.
The Cats with the Sitter
- Charlie [cute beyond all reason]
- [First visit] AAAHHH! Strangers! I must hide! Behind the couch I go!
- [Second visit] Um, excuse me? Why are you here? You’re not my humans. Oh, but you seem to be nice. You want to pet me? You are being quiet and talking softly to me. I like that. And you are offering rubs. OH I LIKE THIS. I may hide again though. I haven’t totally made up my mind. Don’t mind all the toys I have left in odd places around the house.
- Garrus [restrained British voice]
- [First visit] Yawn. I say, you are not my humans. But you are attending to my needs adequately, respect my space, and appear to have achieved acceptable cat parent achievement status. You may pet me as long as I do not have to get up from my spot on the bed.
- [Second visit] I see you are paying homage to the Queen. *waltzes in to my office, tail up in the air* Excuse me, madam. I do not believe that you and I have concluded exchanges of affection yet. I would like more scritches please. *gives vampy smile and lots of tail hugs*
- Boudicca [think Bette Midler’s campiest voice]
- [First visit] Sam and Tracey are here! No other humans exist! *dances at the front door, greeting them excitedly, talking nonstop* Pick me up, pick me up! Do NOT stop snuggling me! Adore me! Love me! Why are you stopping to take a photo? I protest–just LOVE ME! Sam, dahling, where have you been all my life? PURR. PURR. PURR. *commence intense googliness protocols* *air biscuits, flop, liquid cat, air biscuits* I am so HAPPY!
- [later] Oh, by the way, don’t mind the mess I made on the bathroom floor…And I’ll just help myself to Garrus’ food. You don’t mind, do you? You think I’m totally adorable, right? Um, excuse me, why have you stopped petting me? Why are you paying attention to those insignificant boys? Hello! Pay attention to me! I am the Queen!
- [Second visit] Well hello Tracey luv! Where’s Sam? He’s my new boyfriend! But you’re my biggest fan, right?! *babbling, big tail hugs, dancing paws, flop* Love me, adore me, feed me! Where are my kisses? I’m going to shed all over you and make silly air biscuits as you pet me. PURR. PURR. *commence intense googliness protocols*