Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cat Stands (Stays) Alone

My wife and I had a disagreement. It wasn't a huge thing; there was no yelling or fighting or anything like that; it was a just a disagreement. It all started with the cat. Remember him?
Yes, he is walking on the back of a chair. No, I'm not sure what he's doing with his eye. Aiming his deathray? It's always hard to tell with him. But I digress...

Two years ago when we went camping, our cat didn't have us. [Yes, I could say "we didn't have the cat," but, clearly, the cat decided that we belong to him, not the other way around. He did move into our house like a little, furry squatter.] We took the dog with us and there was no problem. In anticipation of the camping trip last year that didn't actually happen, I bought a leash for the cat.
The leash was so that we could take the cat with us, but we didn't go, so the leash just sat around and I never bothered to train the cat with it. He acts like he's dying when you put it on him except when he's walking backwards, which is what he's doing in the below picture.
One time he walked backwards right up the wall and only stopped when he was looking straight down at the floor, then he just stayed like that, like he was lying on the wall.

So, when we started talking about camping this year,
I resumed my plans to take the cat... right up until my wife let me know that she didn't want the cat going with us. The conflict spread to the kids at that point, because they, also, wanted the cat to go. There was a lengthy debate. Well, sort of. It wasn't a debate that happened all at once. It was spread out over about two weeks with occasional comments that were always interrupted by one of the kids saying, "I want the cat to go." That always ended the discussion, because we didn't want the kids getting involved in the decision since they wouldn't be the ones to be taking care of the cat.

Long story short: The cat stayed (because, man, who wants to have to lug a litter box with your camping gear?) at home. Alone.

Now, before anyone says anything about the cruelty involved in leaving the cat locked in the house for a few days, I didn't just decide to do that. At some point, I had done some research about cats and what to do with them when you're going to be away from home, and I found that this is what a lot of people do, just leave the cat at home. They are, after all, pretty self-sufficient and, before Jack (the cat) came to live with us, he had lived alone outside for a long time.

Still, it was not without some trepidation (and anxiety) that I did it. Going off and leaving your pet, unless it's a fish, locked in your house is no small thing. [And before you start giving me options, I considered them. (Especially the one about having someone come in each day, but Jack is an expert at waiting just inside the door and hopping out as you come in -- sometimes without you even knowing he's done it -- and I didn't want to have to deal with a missing cat while I was not home and able to deal with it).] But I made sure he had plenty of (dry) food (there was still some left when we got back, so I did okay on that), what I thought was plenty of water (that was almost gone, but I think that's because he normally gets wet food, so he drank more water to make up for what he wasn't getting from his food), and a big pile of fresh litter.

When we got back, the first thing we noticed was that the house was still here. That was a positive, because I wasn't sure the cat wouldn't box it up and run off with it while we were gone. Heck, that could have been his plan all along (that cat definitely has some kind of plan). I went into the house, first, and the cat met me as I came in the door and was actually more interested in seeing me than in hopping out the door (he saved that until a few nights ago to do to my oldest son as he was coming home from rehearsal). So all is well, and the cat has been way more affectionate this past week than he has been in a while.

And, hey!, the house wasn't even booby trapped Home Alone style when we got back, so I guess the cat really does like living with us. Or something.

Still, I'm going to keep working with him with that leash. Either I have to get him to go forward, or I have to learn to walk him backwards. That could be interesting. I'll have to try get some video footage of that.

* * *

In other news, I have a new thing that I'm finishing up. The draft writing, that is. It's all in notebooks (because that's how I write when I'm off at softball practices or accordion lessons or whatever), so it still has to be typed up and all of that. Why am I telling you this? Well, as I have been doing, I'd like to add a bonus story by some other author to go with it, so I am officially taking submissions. Or requests. Or something. Look, if you have something that's, oh, say, around 5000 words and you'd like me to put it in with my new thing (which I'll tell you more about later), let me know. Or if you want to WIP something up. You still have time. Just leave me a message or email me or whatever to let me know you're interested.


  1. Nothing like an animal attitude adjustment and leaving them alone for a few days usually does that. Cats are rather self-sufficient, and he was obviously fine.
    Don't discount the booby traps though.
    Bonus story. Took me a month to write the last one for Heroes of Phenomena. And that was 1500 words. Crap, I'm such a slow writer...

  2. I love that you're highlighting other authors in your upcoming book. Now that I've read HOC, I can appreciate Bryan's story that much more.

    I think one of the best things about cats is there ability to survive without us humans all the time. A dog would have eaten ALL of the dry food on the first day and gotten sick. Cats just know better than them. (Please don't tell my dogs I said that or Pat Hatt)

  3. I think that's what my sisters do with all their cats whenever they leave for a few days. As you said cats are pretty self-sufficient, much more so than dogs.

    But a cat on a leash just seems like a crime against nature.

  4. My family has done it both ways; same cat. The cat was happiest staying home by herself.... she was not so happy when she was on a year-long roadtrip with all of us in a car, having to use the litter box in a foreign location in the "great wide open". I'm sure Jack thanks you. :)

  5. I left my cat alone for a full week just when we went to Vegas last month. She doesn't mind at all. We leave her a huge pile of food, a punch bowl full of water, and she enjoys having the house all to herself for a week.

    I could possibly put something at the end of your story, depending on how soon you need it.

  6. That's a generous offer to include another author in your book. Alas, I have nothing ready right now. I'll tweet about this instead.

    As for leaving your cat, I'm sure he was much happier alone in the house than away camping. It would probably have been too stressful for him. Cats like routine.

  7. I just want to put in here that the reason I didn't want the cat to come with us camping is because I am scared he would get out of the cabin while we were doing all our coming and going--which there is a LOT of when we are camping, much more than normal. And if we lost him up there, it is 1. right next to a busy and very fast road with large trucks, 2. in the middle of a huge wilderness area. I don't want Jack to get squished or lost. He's really a great cat, and I don't want anything to happen to him. In our home neighborhood, if he gets out, he won't get squished or lost before we can get him back in.

  8. I like that your wife has to leave a comment to get a word in edgewise. That's how we work things around my house, too, at least until Sweetie reads my blog and demands corrections.

    We used to leave our cats home but some friends who love cats would come every couple of days to check on things. We also used to have leashes for our cats, which I found ridiculous because I thought cats should be allowed to roam around if that's what they want to do.

    But your post mostly reminded me of a joke:

    A man goes away on vacation, but can't take his cat, so he gets his brother to stop by once a day and take care of the cat.

    "Be careful and make sure she's okay," he tells his brother, "because that cat is one of the most important things in my life. I've had her for years and love her." The brother assures him he'll take good care of the cat.

    Two days into the trip, the man calls his brother and asks how his cat is.

    "Oh, man, I'm sorry," the brother says, "I was going to wait to tell you. When I came over yesterday, your cat was lying dead on the floor. It looked like she choked on something. I'm so sorry."

    The man says "That's a horrible way to break the news to me!"

    The brother says "Well, how should I have told you?"

    The man says "You have to ease me into it! You could've said something like, oh, your cat is on the roof, and we're trying to get her down and then the next day say you got her down but she was injured and you took her to the vet and the third day say the vet doesn't think it's looking good and then finally break it to me! You don't just spring awful news on me like that!"

    The brother apologizes and says he'll try to be more sympathetic in the future. The man then says "Well, anyway, how is Mom?"

    And after a pause the brother says "Mom's up on the roof."

  9. Alex C: Maybe you should just have some extra short stories on hand?
    Yeah, I don't either.
    And I'm still looking for the traps.

    Elsie: Cats don't know really know better; they're just not social animals so don't compete for food. In the wild, they eat what they want and leave the rest behind.

    And, yes, Bryan did a good job with that story. You should read Rusty's and Briane's, too.

    Pat: Well, it's a funny crime, then.

    Alex H: Yeah, I wouldn't want to drag a cat around for a year. The dog, though, would love it.

    ABftS: Next time, I will have to make sure to leave more water.

    Ellie: Well, thanks for the tweet, then!
    And let me know when you do have something ready; maybe it can go in the next thing.

    Sarah: Well, yeah, I know that. It would have been horrible to lose him out in the woods.

    Briane: Oh, she gets her words in; don't worry about that.
    I would let the cat roam around if he would show that he's able to come when called. He clearly knows his name, but his general response is to just look at me, like, "What?" He's kind of like a teenager in that way.

    Funny joke!

  10. Yeah, I'm with the wife. Cats and camping just don't go together very well. Though I understand your anxiety about leaving the cat alone for a few days. During the flood evacuations here last fall, my parents' dog was trapped in the house for three or four days without any of us being able to get to her. In the end she was fine, though I can't say the same for the rugs in the house. :)

  11. L.G.: At least the rugs are cleanable? Kind of...

  12. I can't imagine taking a cat camping. And a leash! My cats would absolutely *love* that.

    I got an automatic feeder and watering system for occasions when I have to leave my cats, just so I don't have to worry about them eating it all at once and then throwing it all up.

  13. Jeanne: My cat has never done that overeating and puking thing.

  14. That was a good laugh for the day, I could just see you learning to walk the cat backwards, especially up a wall. Loved the story.

  15. Jo: Maybe I'll see if we can get some video footage of the cat walking backwards...

  16. Cats are pretty self sufficient. When we left our cats alone the biggest problem was the litter. If they thought the box was dirty they'd scoop the dirty litter into the floor which left many surprises. Glad you guys had fun and let us know how the leash worked out.

  17. Maurice: I wasn't too worried about the litter this time but, if we're ever going to be gone longer, I may invest in a second box.

  18. In my days I have owned many, many cats. I only had one that liked that leash, but he wasn't actually willing to be controlled by it. The cat walking backwards on the leash is funny. Also, I don't think people are aware of how a panicked cat can climb walls, ha! Those claws are sharp. I had a cat climb a tile wall when we tried to bathe her. A tile wall. It was fairly amazing.

  19. Shannon: I have owned exactly one cat. I sort of think one is enough.

    I'd like to see a cat go up a tile wall.

  20. Back when I had cats, we always left them at home when we went on vacation. Having someone clean up the litter every three days or so and freshen up the water (mine were toilet drinkers), worked wonderfully. The best part was that the cat actually seemed to realize we existed when we came home, you know, beyond, "You there, feed me now!"

    I did try a leash with one of my cats - the wanderer. The other one stayed nearby. Eventually she didn't do the backwards thing. Not that she ever enjoyed a good walk with it either. Good luck with your training.

  21. Jean: Oh, you had a backwards one, too! Cool!