On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published by the Rains County Leader on May 1, 2018:

Kitty on davidOne of the author groups I belong to on Facebook asked us to share a brief “getting to know you” post. Here’s what I wrote:

I retired from the business world ten years ago, but it didn’t last. I work part-time at my church, do some on-line accounting for my son’s publishing company, and write for our local weekly newspaper. I have one son, two beautiful grandchildren, and an almost domesticated feral cat who loves my husband and tolerates me.

Kitty and I were making great strides in our relationship until my extended bout with allergies and a sinus infection accompanied by a very persistent and irritating cough. The first issue was that I was miserable and didn’t feel like currying the favor of Her Royal Snottiness, so I basically ignored her. I did, however, still offer treats at bedtime, but for some reason, she refused to follow the rules. Instead of lying on my stomach as I required, she insisted on sitting beside me. She didn’t even want to get close enough to take the treats out of my lap but instead wanted me to put them in front of her on the bed.

I was in no mood to be manipulated by a temperamental feline, so I refused to relax mysick_cold standards. The result was that, several times, she left in a huff, leaving me with a handful of tuna-flavored treats. Since David refused to eat them, I gave in, and a new routine developed – she would lie beside me and eat the treats out of my hand, but petting was limited and purely at her discretion.

Sometime in March, my symptoms began to clear up, and although my cough persisted longer than the other symptoms, it became less annoying. Eventually, it disappeared almost completely, and then an amazing thing happened. One evening when Kitty came in for her treats, she put her front paws on my stomach, and when I dropped a treat in front of her, she ate it where it was. Since then, she has gradually moved back to her original place and has even allowed me to resume petting her occasionally.

scared-startled-cat-looking-upI have a theory about what may have happened. When the sun goes down, Kitty becomes rather skittish. While we sit in the living room and read or watch TV, she runs from one window to another, checking out various noises and movements she sees or hears. Once we go to bed, she often startles and stares at the window air conditioner as if fearing the appearance of an intruder. My theory is that, since she was already a bit on edge, and since my cough was always worse when I was lying down, she wanted to distance herself as much as possible from the sudden explosive sounds and movements. She didn’t want to give up the treats altogether, though, so she offered a compromise which I reluctantly accepted.

I think she missed me, though, because she has begun to offer a couple of new opportunities for Kitty on the back of the couchcloseness. For example, she has taken to lying along the back of the love seat where I sit. It’s nice because, although she sometimes resists petting, she doesn’t seem to mind if I lay my head back against her – and she makes a really nice headrest. Occasionally, she slides down against my shoulders, and it’s like having a live heating pad. Still, this arrangement has its drawback. First, she gets heavy after a while, and secondly, she expresses her enjoyment of the arrangement by beating me in the side of the head with her tail.

There are other times when I come into the living room and find her sitting in my spot. Unlike my old chair, there’s plenty of room for both of us on the loveseat, and she graciously allows me to sit beside her and even to pet her within limits.

There’s probably not an explanation for her change in behavior that makes sense on a human level, but I like to think she’s warming up to me. But even if it’s just that she’s developing a greater level of tolerance as she approaches her third birthday, I can live with that.



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