On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

This was published by the Rains County Leader on May 17, 2016:

Kitty lounging in the condoKitty has continued to be angelic – either that or we have lowered our expectations. It’s probably a bit of both.

Since I bought her Kitty condo, she has spent many hours in it – staring out the window, sleeping, finding loose threads and chewing on them. When she tires of that, she plays with the curtains or tries to climb the mini-blind that I have pulled halfway up the window trying to get it out of her reach. We’re thinking about removing both the curtain and the blind to avoid arguing with her. As I said, we’ve lowered our expectations.

I’m still expecting her to become more companionable someday. It frustrates me that she won’t sit with me and let me pet her. Since I find everything else on the Internet, I did a search on how to encourage her to be more of a lap cat. One suggestion was to get a generous supply of treats and settle into a comfortable chair with a good book. The idea is to lure the reluctant cat to you by tossing her a treat from time to time. Then, you encourage her to come closer by placing each treat a little closer. Eventually, when she is close enough, offer the treat in your hand, and finally, don’t release it until she puts her paws in your lap. Supposedly, she will come to relate being close to you with something pleasant, and you will have your lap cat. The caution is that, depending on the timidity of your cat, the process may take as long as a year.

Kitty is moving along much more quickly than that. First of all, I don’t have to lure her onto Kitty and lampthe chair. As soon as she hears me open the drawer where the treats are stored, she appears at my feet and follows me. When I sit down, she jumps into my lap and begins searching. She takes the treat from my hand, but instead of lying down for a visit, she jumps down and enjoys the tasty bit on the floor. Then she jumps back into my lap to see if there are any more. If so, we repeat the process. If not, she goes elsewhere.

She’s still not a lap cat, but she allows us to pet her more often when she is standing either on the floor or on a perch of some sort. When she’s feeling friendly, she will present herself by rubbing on a leg or sitting on the floor and staring at one of us. She actually jumped into our laps the other night when we were on the phone, Face-timing with the grandkids. Jealousy may work better than treats.

She is becoming more sociable in her own way. In fact, she and David have developed a night-time game. After he turns off the TV, he likes to get into bed and read for a while before turning out the light. I’m usually not quite ready to retire when he does. I have to finish the chapter I’m writing or rinse the last few dishes that have magically appeared in the sink since dinner – and I have to put Kitty to bed. While she waits for me, she hops up onto the bed and the game begins.

Kitty on the bed with DavidDavid arranges his pillows against the headboard, settles back against them, and slides his feet under the cover. Then, she pounces, first on one foot and then the other, depending on which one is moving. David usually tires of the game before she does and turns his attention to his book. When that happens, she lies down between his feet, gathers all four of her own paws into a bundle, and fights with them.

That part of the game must be pretty boring, because before long, she hops down and goes exploring to see what else she can get into. That’s my signal that it’s night-night time for Kitty. I have learned one lesson in using treats for training purposes. I no longer offer them close to bedtime. After she’s had one or two, it becomes much more difficult to lure her into the laundry room where she sleeps. She will follow me halfway, then give me that “gotcha” look before walking away with her tail in the air.

I have her number, though. She may have me wrapped around her little paw, but I’m still somewhat smarter. I follow her to wherever she decides to perch, wave the treats under her little black and white nose, and go into the laundry room alone. I rattle her food dish, and by the time I put the treats down on her food mat, she’s right beside me, rubbing against my leg. As aloof and finicky as she tries to be, her tummy always betrays her.

Blessings,

Linda

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A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available in paperback and digital versions.

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