Last week I did some cat-sitting for a friend. I didn’t stay at her place, but I did drive down to her house every other day (as agreed upon) to replenish the food and water, clean out the litter box, and take her mail and any packages in the house. I have done that a couple other times this year, and always enjoy doing it for her. She gives me money for gas and my time.
Last Sunday, the first day, both Duke and Duchess put in an appearance. Duke sat on the living room rug watching me; Duchess saw me and promptly hid. The cats don’t know me because I haven’t spent a lot of time around them, so that reaction was expected. It would have been nice if they’d been more sociable, but knowing cats, I decided it would be better to let them alone, than try to force the issue. (How many readers know “forcing” a cat to do anything doesn’t work?) It wasn’t really my job to convince them to be sociable, anyway. It was my job to make sure they had enough food, clean water, and a clean litter box.
Any time I cat-sit for my friend, I gain these insights:
I practice the mental discipline of simply doing the job I’m there to do. It’s not my job to criticize the cat food or the litter she buys, or to judge anything at all. Somehow in that time and space, it’s easier to see that fact, and to realize there’s other areas in my life I can apply that discipline to. It’s all too easy for me to say, “That person should do this” or, “Well, if that were me, I’d do that.” People don’t need me to be the judge and jury of their lives.
My friend says it’s a blessing to know someone who she can trust in her house who likes cats. It is a blessing for me to be trusted. To be able to go in and out of another person’s house and know that person trusts you is freedom in a way. It’s also responsibility. But then, freedom and responsibility have a way of going hand in hand.
In celebration of National Pet Day (today), I decided to highlight two of the many pets who’ve lived with my family.
Cinder’s mama, a feral cat, moved Cinder and two of her siblings to our pumphouse to stay. Apparently, Cinder’s mom decided their home across the road (underneath the neighbor’s porch) was too noisy to raise her family. So she moved the kittens one by one to our side of the road. As the kittens grew, Mama Cat took Cinder’s brother and sister hunting, but left Cinder behind. Eventually Cinder came into our house. She proved to be a “people cat”, and adapted quickly to inside life with humans as her family. She also demonstrated her intelligence different times.
One day Cinder knocked over the small cardboard box which held the cats’ toys. She checked out all the toys, found the one she wanted, picked it up, and started playing with it! The only thing she didn’t do was put the other toys back in the toy box! That episode puts a smile on my face even now, years later. She had a specific toy in mind, and lookedfor it until she found it! If I hadn’t seen that with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Our current feline, Abby, displays her intelligence in understanding human language. For instance, one day she strolled into the living room. You could see by the way she looked around that she was looking for something. My mother told her where her toy was. Abby went right to the spot and started playing with the toy! On another occasion, I left a cardboard box in the living room for Abby. Later on, I moved the box. Abby came into the living room. She looked all around. My mother wondered if she was looking for the box. I said, “Abby, I moved the box over there by the fan.” I pointed to it. She walked right over to it, as though she completely understood what I said!
Over the years, we’ve had many pets—more cats than dogs. Each had his or her own personality. Each provided the blessings of companionship and unconditional acceptance wrapped in fur coats.
Snowball was my feline buddy for several years. His long-haired coat added to his feline dignity.
Underneath all that fur and dignity, Snowball had a sense of humor. In the picture below, he is ready for a game of “chase Snowball up-and-down-the-stairs”. This started when he ran up the stairs, then, just when I got to the top of the stairs, he would run down, and the game continued until I refused to chase him anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if he laughed to himself as he played the game.
Snowball accompanied us when we moved to a rural area. Not long after we moved there, other cats joined our household. Since Snowball had been an only cat all his life, we were concerned, but he handled the changes well.
Duchess: “I’m going to hide by this table leg, and no one will find me!”
Duchess and Duke: “We’re NOT fighting! We’re playing!”
Duchess and Duke: “Do you think she’ll fill it for us?”
Author’s Note: Recently I discovered these pictures my friend sent me awhile back of the sibling kittens she adopted. Kittens can’t help being cute, so for those who like cats and cuteness, here’s some pictures.
Duchess–“Why did you shine that light in my eyes? I’m sleepy!”
Duke–“I’m so sleepy!”
Duchess–“I’m alert now!”
A friend adopted Duke and Duchess awhile back. They played vigorously with each other, toys, and the furnishings, fell asleep where they were, then woke up and were at again. They had fun; we had fun watching them. Nothing like watching kittens for stress relief!
I'm Joanna, a busy married mum of two beautiful boys aged four and three. I'm sharing my experiences as I navigate the wonderful world of motherhood! Mistakes, routines, mum / life hacks, cleaning, beauty...little bit of everything!