Misc

Excerpts From A Cat Owner’s Diary

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Just the recorded struggles of a cat novice settling into life with his new housemate.

This summer, I moved into a bigger apartment with my girlfriend. She is mildly obsessed with cats, so it was always understood that we would get one ourselves as soon as we had enough space to accommodate it. So our new apartment, I knew beforehand, would basically come with a cat. While there’s many people who would envy me now, and maybe others who run screaming when they only hear the word “cat”, I didn’t feel super-strongly either for or against this. I had next to no first-hand experience with cats, and I certainly never felt like I was missing out in life without it, but I didn’t rail against the idea either. I was a bit tentative, slightly afraid, but also quite a bit curious. We picked a little kitten from a local guy whose cat had “accidentally” produced a litter. We first saw our cat when she was just a couple of weeks old, and agreed that we would adopt her once she had reached three months. Here’s what’s happened since.

Day 1

Picked up our cat from her former family. We named her Ginny, because of the little red blotch she has on her head (she’s otherwise mostly grey). Ginny is the cutest, she fell asleep almost immediately after arriving. She must be pretty exhausted from the trip to her new home, all on public transport, poor thing.

Day 2

Ginny is starting to feel (and know) her way around the apartment, and she seems to have figured out that we’re her food and toy providers from now on. Otherwise, she’s still a bit suspicious of us, though. Also, she’s incredibly jumpy and shy. I’ve begun to move about the place in a kind of constant slow motion, as everything beyond that startles her and makes her hide under the sofa.

Day 5

Our cat has discovered the joy of destroying things. I always thought of this as a meme-fueled myth, but cats do rather seem to have a knack for that. Ours does, at any rate. Luckily, so far only some of the cardboard boxes remaining from our move and the living room rug have fallen prey to her claws. (We wisely covered the couch with some blankets once we realized she prefers it over her scratch tree!)

Day 8

Should’ve knocked on wood. Ginny is branching out in her destruction efforts. I currently find myself getting up every two minutes because of some suspicious noise or other, usually followed by the sound of a cat running to her hideout.

Day 9

We’re thinking about renaming Ginny “Goddess of Destruction”.

Day 14

Ginny has developed a passion for travel equipment, and backpacks are her chosen favorite: She chews at them, she hunts after the straps, she sleeps on the padded backs, and she hides in them for comfort. How cute is that!?

Day 15

I had an old backpack to spare, so I gave it to Ginny. I believe that she’s the happiest cat in the world now, judging by how diligently she chews away at it. Also, she’s begun to bring her other toys over to her backpack. Looks like this will be her new headquarters from today on.

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Pictured: Kitten and entertainment center.

Day 18

Ginny seems to be a born hunter. Unfortunately, her favorite prey appears to be our feet. Try sitting on the sofa or a chair without keeping an eye on her—and two minutes later she will dangle from one of your toes like a piranha. I still have to get used to this.

Day 22

Had guests over last night. Forget whatever I wrote about Ginny’s shiness a while ago. She spent the entire evening nibbling away at our friends’ feet, who luckily found it “so cute”. Meanwhile, we were happy to be spared for one night.

Day 23

Quite by accident, by dropping something from my desk, I seem to have sparked a new obsession in Ginny: paper balls. Spent the rest of the day scrunching up little pieces of scrap paper and letting her hunt after them. She doesn’t tire of it, it’s amazing!

Day 24

What have I started there? She brought one of her paper balls to our bed last night, dropping first the paper, then herself on me, as if to say, “Can you throw this please? I want to hunt!” – Which of course I did, obedient cat-slave that I’ve become. Only that made her come back for more. And then again. And again. She’s actually playing fetch now—is she a cat or a dog?!

Day 25

This paper-ball madness has to stop. I can’t interrupt my work every two minutes to throw something for our cat. Plus, our apartment looks like a recycling plant by now. I’ll clean up all the paper balls that I can find later and that will be the end of it.

Day 26

Woke up this morning to find that the cat had toppled over the paper basket and spread paper all over the flat. 1-0 for her. Maybe we should just let her play with her paper? She could do much worse, after all.

Day 29

We had to take Ginny to the vet today. Since they had to run some tests which were going to take a bit of time, they suggested we go for a little walk and come back later to discuss the results. About half an hour later, as we entered the clinic again, we heard the most heartbreaking wail. The lady behind the counter looked at us in a sympathetic way and explained, “That’s your cat, she’s been crying ever since you left”. Can’t say that I noticed without fatherly pride that Ginny stopped crying immediately once we rushed back to her. Next time, we’re not going to leave that poor darling alone.

Day 30

Tried to put together a little piece of furniture today. Ginny was very excited! She had to inspect all the different parts and make sure that they were safe for use, and then also walk around on those pieces that I had already put together, to test their stability. Net assembly time: 1 hour. Time spent shooing away the cat and wrenching screws out of her paws: 3 hours.

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Pictured: Still life with cat and lamp.

Day 33

Woke up with a start last night—what was that sudden pain in my foot? It took me a moment to realize that Ginny had somehow crawled under the blanket and taken my toes for prey. I was not amused.

Day 37

When we were sitting in the living room tonight, reading quietly, I heard a weird, shuffling sound slowly approaching. Looking up, I saw Ginny, dragging her backpack towards us by one of the straps, inch by inch. Once she was close enough to the sofa, she dropped down on her bag and started purring. She wanted to be with her backpack, but also with us. How adorable is that!?

Day 39

Coming in after taking down the trash, I couldn’t see the cat anywhere. I called for her, I looked in all her usual hiding spots – under the couch, in the bookcase, behind the desk –, but no sign of her whatsoever. As I was running about the apartment with a rising sense of panic, looking about frantically and checking that all the windows were closed, my gaze suddenly fell on the cupboard under the kitchen sink. The door was wide open. (I must have forgotten to close it after taking out the trash bag.) And sure enough, as I came close, I could just see the tip of a furry tail disappear behind the half-high board at the end of that cupboard. I now had visual confirmation that Ginny was playing hide-and-seek with me, under our kitchen. I spent the better part of an hour trying to coax her out, hitting my head on a variety of pipes and boards under the sink in the process. Having finally managed, I remembered my original, still unfinished chore, and proceeded to put a clean bag in the bin. It was only when I saw something dark and furry breeze past me and disappear in the cupboard that I realized it was going to be a long day. You live and learn.

Day 45

Spent a weekend away for the first time since we got Ginny. Thankfully, friends of ours were happy to check in on her and spend some time with her during these two days. (Not sure they knew beforehand what they had signed up for!) When we came home, the cat greeted us by the door, rolling around on the floor and then walking towards us to receive her dose of attention. She followed me in my footsteps for the rest of the evening. Made me wonder whether she might actually have missed me—and whether I might secretly have missed her, too.

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Pictured: A rare species known as squirrel-cat.

Day 47

Woke to a terrible noise at about four in the morning. Got up to check what had happened: The cat had pulled down the tablecloth from the dining table—and the candlestick and an array of other items with it. When I approached, she was happily chewing away at a corner of the tablecloth, quite unaware of the mess that she had caused. I proceeded to cleaning up, which seems to be about the only thing I ever do these days (and nights).

Day 48

Strange sounds from the bathroom tonight. What we found when we investigated was this: the cat, sitting in the bathtub, joyfully playing with (i.e., licking) the plug that she had somehow wrenched from the hole. And a roll of toilet paper, spread out over the entire bathroom, with one end buried in the cat toilet.

Day 50

Follow-up visit at the vet’s. This time, we stayed with Ginny throughout. As if to show us the error of our ways, the assistant ushered the three of us into a broom cupboard, where we were told to stay for the half hour or so that it would take to conduct the analyses. We were crammed, but altogether much happier than last time. No matter what a devil she often is, I don’t want to hear our cat cry like that again, ever.

Day 52

Today’s my birthday, and Ginny had a special gift for me: She woke me by pushing down a flower pot that I had put up just the other day. No better way to start your birthday than collecting fragments of a broken flower pot and re-potting a plant at six in the morning!

Day 59

We’ve recently started calling Ginny names that I wouldn’t disclose in writing. Also, the idea of putting her in a stew has come up more than once. Mind you, I would never deliberately hurt an animal (and I don’t eat meat anyway, which rules out the stew). But seeing how cathartic it feels to put words on our punctual anger and frustration with this cat, that’s a practice that might be here to stay. Should I feel bad about this?

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Day 61

Ginny has lately developed the adorable habit of sleeping next to my feet at night. When my alarm rings in the morning, she wakes up, too, and then struts up the bed towards my pillow. If I don’t immediately give her the attention she seeks, she will nudge me with her nose until I do. Next, she expects me to get up, meowing until she actually sees me rise. No second alarm needed!

Day 65

Found bite marks on my office chair this morning. The cat seems sleepy and exhausted, she must have had a rough night fighting with our furniture!

Day 68

Coming up from the cellar earlier today with a basket full of laundry, I heard Ginny cry while I was still on the staircase outside the apartment. When I opened the door, I found her rolling around on the floor behind the door, desperate for attention. But just as I put down the laundry basket to pet her a bit, the cat jumped to her feet and fled out of the door, and down the staircase. So I first had to charge after her and catch her, but then gave her a pet anyway. An episode that weirdly summarizes my relationship with this animal!

Day 70

Ginny is a real fly hunter. So fascinating to watch her chase after those little insects—especially since she manages to be graceful and clumsy at the same time. One moment she crashes headfirst into a door or the leg of a table, the next moment she leaps from one shelf to another without losing her balance. She usually even manages to catch the fly in the end.

Day 73

Let it be known that we have the classiest of cats. Coming home from a weekend away, we asked our friend who looked after Ginny how things had gone with her. Half-laughing, half-traumatized, our friend told us that the cat had farted in her face pretty much every time she picked her up. Guess we should start looking for a new cat-sitter…

Day 77

Despite our best attempts to keep the cat off our kitchen counter, she occasionally jumps on it when she feels unobserved. Her favorite toy now seems to be the kitchen sponge, pieces of which I found in one of my shoes this morning. At the very least, this animal is always good for a surprise.

Day 80

Ginny experienced snow for the first time in her life today, on the balcony. Can’t say she liked it much, judging by how fast she went back inside—but it was still very cute to witness.

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Day 82

My girlfriend came home with some Christmas decorations earlier today. We spent the rest of the evening chasing our cat through the entire apartment, trying to wrestle everything from pine branches to wooden angels from her grip. I can see that it’s going to be a fun Christmas season this year… happy holidays!

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2 thoughts on “Excerpts From A Cat Owner’s Diary

  1. Pingback: Introducing Quick Reviews | pheuilleton

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