Archive for July, 2008

One Year In…

So it’s been one full year since the wedding, and for our anniversary I could write up a long post about how wonderful married life is and how awesome my wife is, but since me sitting at the computer rather than spending time with her isn’t the most effective way of showing her how much I appreciate and love her, I’ll just say: married life is wonderful, and my wife is awesome. Year one was fantastic, and here’s looking forward to many, many more that will be even better. Happy first anniversary…

Cats, Dogs, Mass Hysteria

Last Friday evening, I had mentioned on Twitter that we were preparing to dogsit for two rowdy dogs for a week — joking that I wasn’t worried how our dog would handle it (seeing as she’s incredibly lazy and prone to ignoring other dogs), but more about how the cat would handle it. Little did we know what was to come. Our cat has learned to live with strange and rowdy dogs in the past when we’ve done dog-sitting for friends, but we know that Max is a bit more rowdy than most rambunctious dogs. We’ve dog sat for him in the past, but always at his own home. This time, he was going to stay at our place, with another dog, Daisy, as well. Daisy is a nervous dog, but she pretty much follows whatever Max does.

We decided not to clip our cat’s nails for a little while, so that they’d be extra sharp in case she needed to teach Max or Daisy who was boss. This was a bit of a pain, because for the past few days leading up to Max and Daisy’s arrival, any time our cat would walk on us (often) she might poke us with her claws as well.

Anyway, Friday evening showed up, as did Max and Daisy. Our cat was in my home office at the time, and decided that was probably a good place to stay, hanging out on my desk behind my monitor. We took Max and Daisy around the house, and they didn’t even notice Kitty sitting up there on the desk. All good, we thought.

Then, we go out to take the dogs for a walk. I took Max for an extra long walk, hoping to tire him out so he’d go to sleep without causing too much trouble. He was actually fine on the walk, and I was thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be so difficult to take care of Max this time around. I got home, and the wife was already back with Daisy and Sugar (our dog). Apparently, she’d even introduced Daisy to our cat, and, while they were keeping their distance, they seemed to tolerate each other.

That all was about to change.

I brought Max into the house, and undid the leash. Hearing everyone else upstairs, he raced up the stairs at full throttle, and encountered our cat in one of the bedrooms immediately. There was a lot of noise — barking, thrashing, hissing, scurrying — and I raced up the steps yelling. And then, in flash, I saw a dark object fly by me at super sonic speeds. Our cat, apparently, though, at that speed I honestly wasn’t sure. Half a beat later, there was Max in rapid pursuit. Right back down the stairs past me.

And like that, the cat was gone.

We had just installed a cat door a few weeks ago, and our cat loves the free reign to go inside and out — and obviously was thrilled to be able to quickly make her escape. Of course, what we didn’t figure was that she would then never be interested in returning.

Since she’s an indoor-outdoor cat, we don’t get too worried if she’s gone for a little while. She knows the neighborhood, and likes to hang out outside quite a bit, but usually in a few key spots where we know we can find her. And, when it’s time for us to sleep, she’s always back, and always curled up with us in bed, so we figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem. We blocked off Max and Daisy so they couldn’t get to the cat door if Kitty decided to come home and figured that she’d come back during the night.

But, come morning, still no cat. I spent parts of the day, wandering around to all her hiding spots and calling her, to no avail. Then, we start worrying. What if she got injured by Max on the way out? What if she was so scared she ran outside her comfort “zone” and didn’t know how to get back? What if she was just too scared to come back? What if she hated us for bringing Max into the house?

It wasn’t much fun.

We figured if she still wasn’t around by Sunday morning, we’d alert the neighbors and maybe put up some signs. In the meantime, we decided to follow through on our Saturday evening plans.

We’ve been living in this house for about nine months now, and I’ve already mentioned how nice the neighbors all are. We share a driveway with our neighbor across the way, a woman named Frances, who’s lived there for about thirty years. About a month ago, while both of us were taking out the garbage, she’d invited us over for dinner, which we thought would be nice. While we’ve been living across the driveway from her for nine months, we hadn’t socialized at all, beyond brief chats across the driveway. Last night was the night that we’d planned to get dinner.

So, across the driveway we walked, and we had a nice time chatting with Frances. Almost as soon as we got there, Frances mentioned how beautiful our cat is. Frances also has a cat, Gracie, but she’s exclusively an indoor cat. We told Frances the saga of the missing cat, and she said that we shouldn’t worry — she was sure that our cat would return. Anyway, we had a very nice dinner that Frances made. We were sitting in her dining room around her table. I was seated at the head of the table, looking towards her sliding back door onto Frances’ backyard.

Just as we were finishing up dinner, telling random stories, I saw Kitty crawl out from under one of the bushes in the backyard and start to walk across. It honestly took me two beats to realize what was happening. One to notice something was moving — and the second to realize it was our “missing” cat. We ran to the door, opened it, and the cat immediately ran back away. My wife went out and called to the cat — who responded — but wouldn’t come near us. She crawled under a fence and into the drainage chute that runs along the far side of Frances’ house. I ran around and tried to come up from the other side. It’s a narrow cement drainage area, with the house on the left and a fence on the right — so no easy place for the cat to go, other than back into the back yard.

Instead, the cat came running right for me. At first, I thought maybe she was happy to see me — but it was more that she was hoping to dart by me. She faked left, then right, and then dove under a set of wooden steps leading to Frances’ garage. I was right there, blocking her exit, and went to pick her up.

Remember how we decided not to trim her claws?

Yeah, so my loving cat, who likes nothing more than to cuddle with me every night, decided to show me what her claws can do. I got two nice gashes across the back of my hand, another on my upper arm, and (for good measure) a little slash across the neck… and off ran Kitty.

Still, it was good to know she was still alive (and moving quite well). Frances gave us some salmon that we put on a little plate to try to attract the cat (assuming, correctly, that she would be hungry). After one failed attempt to bring her back into our house, we actually lured her into Frances’ house. I ran back to our house and got her crate. With a little effort we got her into the crate (briefly introduced her to Gracie, as well) and then took her home.

Since then, we’ve been living in a bit of a warzone. The pet door is now shut. The dogs are living downstairs. The cat is hiding upstairs, in a state of constant alert — sort of the kitty equivalent of Anne Frank (sans diary) — moving from one hiding spot to another. The stairs are a sort of demilitarized zone. The dogs have made it up a few times, with a few minor flares, but for the most part, we’ve avoided a return to all out cat/dog warfare. We’ve tried a few times to “introduce” Max to Kitty, but so far, all that’s done is get me a few more scratches.

Such is life in our household these days…

our cat

Post script: Having now written this up, I’m realizing that back in the early days of blogging, the mocking phrase that the mainstream press used to put down the concept of “bloggers” was that it was a bunch of people writing about their cats — and I vaguely recall promising myself that I’d never become one of “those” bloggers. Oops.