10 February 2021


 I used to have a cat. I like cats. I got that cat when I was still a child. But I didn't stay a child. At some point I was a PhD student, and that turned out to not be very compatible with having a cat. I made long days! And that meant the cat was alone at home. She didn't appreciate it. If I had been particularly absent she would beat me up. She had clearly had a rough youth, and she still had some rough habits left over from then. So if she wasn't pleased, the claws came out! So when she died at the venerable age of 17 I didn't get a cat again. I was still in academia, so still would piss off a cat with my prolonged absences.

When the pandemic hit, and I suddenly was at home all the time, I was thinking about a cat again. If I am at home all day, I can just have a cat who won't be lonely. Cats are quite independent and can amuse themselves when you're working. It just makes a difference whether you are physically present or not. If every time you go to the loo you give the cat a cuddle I'm sure they will thrive. I know I am now writing as if all cats are the same, and they most certainly are not, but I think that as a rule of thumb it works.

My first thought was giving a new home to my friend's cat, as she said the relationship between her and the cat had broken down. When I thought I would lose my job and would be working at home on something else forever I could really see that happen. But then I kept my job, and knew that sooner or later I would have to get back to the office. And then the problem would resurface!

Then I offered looking after another friend's cat while she would be off at sea. For her work she has to go offshore fairly regularly. And that offer stands but the friend is still on land!

Then I suddenly got a message from yet other friends with a request for help. They had been intending to move house for a considerable amount of time. And now they were approaching the sale of their house, but they had not found one to buy yet. That meant they would have to rent for a while, while looking for a place to live in in the long run. And then they found out that landlords are not overly keen on their tenants having pets. And they have lots. Could I perhaps look after their cat for a while? And I said yes. The pandemic was still raging at full strength, so I figured I wasn't going to go back to the office until September. That surely should give them enough time to find another house! And so it was agreed. It wasn't clear yet when this would happen as you never know when completion of the house will take place. But then suddenly completion loomed. When was it convenient for me to accept the cat? So it was happening!

On Friday, 5 February, so less then two weeks after the initial request, I saw a Land Rover approach my house. The cat was imminent! My friend carried her in, and a box full of supplies. And we opened the carrier. A cat walked in my house!

She immediately started exploring. She was fearless! I expected that; my friends are really good with pets, so I expected a mentally stable and confident cat. And my friend and I had a bit of a chat. That was nice! It was also the first social (indoors) visit I had had in a long time. And I was curious to hear the details about where he was going. They are moving into their new abode within weeks.

After a while my friend left. And then suddenly the cat wasn't so confident any more! She vanished behind the sofa. And when I leaned over she would meow at me, let me stroke her, and purr profusely, but she wasn't keen to leave her hiding place. I went back to work and just came down every now and then to see how she was. No change!

At some point it was time for dinner. She still wasn't leaving the sofa. But when I came up after dinner I managed to lure her from behind it. And as soon as that had happened, she was unstoppable. She went exploring through the entire house. And she came to sit with me on the sofa, and seemed to enjoy that immensely. I think the big threshold had been crossed!

The first day

When she finally dared to come out

What she did as soon as she entered the office

Tired after an intensive day!

That night I left my bedroom door open. I wanted to know how that would go. My cat back in the days would sleep in my bed and that was quite snug. She would be allowed to wake me up once for demanding breakfast, but if she woke me up more than once I would lock her up in the kitchen. Let's see how this little cat would behave.

Lights went out and within no time I felt her feet walking on over me. She was looking for a place to get comfortable. And she settled on a position as the little spoon. Me underneath the dDon 20uvet and she on top. That was lovely! But it didn't last. She went on a wander, and went meowing into space, and all that sort of stuff, so I decided that the experiment had not been a success. I locked her in the old part of the house and kept the extension for myself! That way I got a good night's sleep. She didn't like it; she was meowing like her life depended on it, but my sleep is not negotiable.

In the morning, when I came out of the bedroom, I immediately heard a thud, and the sound of scampering feet combined with energetic meowing. She figured it had been long enough separate and she wanted cuddles again! Oh dear this was one needy cat. But then again, this was only her first night, and maybe she would become a bit more blasé. We will see! My first 12 hours with the cat were done. Stay tuned! I'm sure there'll be more cat-related stuff on this blog in the coming months…

The next morning

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