On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 21, 2017:

Traditional wisdom tells us that one human year is equal to seven dog years and that the ratio is even higher for cats; however, the Internet says something entirely different. When Kitty came to live with us in June of 2015, we guessed that she was born around May 15. That means she is approaching her second birthday, but I wanted to find out how old she was in “cat years.” According to various age calculators for cats, she is anywhere from early teens to late twenties. I guess we’ll say she’s two years old and leave it at that.

Regardless of the years, she is becoming quite the grown up young lady, at least most of the time. She still races from one end of the house to the other for no apparent reason from time to time, and she occasionally spends a few minutes batting a favorite toy around, but she spends most of her time napping or lounging in her Kitty condo, staring out the window at the latest programs on “cat TV.”

Kitty has become much more social as she’s aged, but she still wants to socialize on her own terms. She loves to be petted when we first wake up in the morning, when we come in after being gone most of the day, and when she’s hungry. She will hop up on the bed, my ottoman, or a TV table to make herself a little more accessible, but she really prefers for us to squat down to her level. She especially likes it when, after I’ve put food in her bowl, I sit on the floor and pet her while she eats.

Occasionally when she’s in a good mood, she will let David pick her up and hold her on his lap. She sits as still as a statue while he pets her, then after about thirty seconds, she hops down. On the other hand, if I try to do the same thing, she hisses, spits, and hits the floor running.

She enjoys the treats I give her at bedtime, but I’m not sure how much she enjoys the petting she is required to endure in order to get them. She knows the routine, though. When I go in to brush my teeth, she follows me and lies on the floor. After I’m finished, I head for the kitchen where I keep her treats, and she usually beats me there. So far, she hasn’t knocked me off my feet on the way, but she has come close. She watches me intently while I count out the appropriate number of little crunchy bits, and then she races me for the bed. She’s usually sitting expectantly by my pillow before I make it back to the bedroom, and I sometimes have to fight for space to get under the covers.

She sits nicely on my stomach or chest, whichever will cause me the most discomfort. I sit back against the headboard and feed her the treats one at a time, stroking her back or scratching her neck while she chews. She tolerates the stroking and even purrs a little bit from time to time, but if I linger too long, she whips her head around and glares at the offending hand threateningly.

Other changes in the routine upset her, too. Once I switched hands so I was holding the treats in my right hand and petting her with my left. A hiss and a swat with her paw put a quick end to that experiment. Regardless of how closely I stick to the rules, she’s gone as soon as she swallows the last treat.

Several times recently she has lingered a little while. Sometimes she rubs her face against the book I’m reading, and on rare occasions, she lies beside me for a few minutes – close but not touching. At first, I thought my togetherness campaign was working, but I came to realize she was just hanging around in case I discovered some extra treats hidden away. I guess I’m okay with that. At her age, she’s old enough to decide how much she wants to give to this relationship.



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