Minh is just so photogenic, and sleeps in the weirdest places. It is a really good thing you can’t smell these shoes, but it doesn’t seem to bother him a bit!
She was totally invisible when I first started pet sitting for her inside brothers and sister. I heard about the feral kitty who lived outside but I didn’t see her for my first few visits. She has been spayed and given her shots, and she comes to the people who live here, but she didn’t trust me enough to appear in those early days. She lives under the extensive decks when it is cold or the weather is foul, but in good weather she lives on the porch, in a nice little corner set aside for her.
So I put out food and water for her each day, and peered out the window hoping for a glimpse of her.
And after awhile, she started appearing when I was in the house. One of her favorite spots is this window sill, where she sits and watches me as I prepare food for everyone or wash the cat dishes.
Lately, however, she is willing to come eat while I’m around. She won’t stay on the porch unless I’m inside, so these photos are through windows, and not great quality, but I wanted you to see that she’s not really invisible. She actually comes in the house for her people, and stays five or ten minutes, but not much longer. She hangs out at windows, and curls up next to the door, and she is welcome to become an indoor cat, but she doesn’t seem to want an inside life. Something in her is just more comfortable outside. It is what she has always known.
But she is no longer an invisible cat. She never actually was, of course. I just needed to be patient. She is comfortable enough with me now that she meowed for her food this morning. I guess that makes us friends.
Finding a way for Hiro to be outside, but not spraying in the neighbor’s yard, continues to be a challenge. Walking on the leash is ok, but he doesn’t really like leaving the yard, and as petsitters, our time during the summer is pretty limited. So here’s our newest attempt to give him the outdoor time he craves – his very own kitty condo.
A little shade, a little sun, and lots of birds and wild critters to check out. Hiro wasn’t too sure about this at first, so I fed him his dinner in the new condo.
That helped, and it also attracted Hiro’s first would-be dinner guest!
Eventually Hiro explored and tested out the amenities.
And though it took a couple tries, Hiro seems to like his condo now. He’s quite happy to keep on eye on the yard and all the wildlife out there. He comes in quiet, content, and relaxed. I think we’ll call it a success.
It is every pet sitter’s nightmare: losing a client’s pet. The death of an already-sick animal while on your watch is no picnic, but it pales compared to the terror of having a client’s cat or dog escape the house or yard, seen or unseen.
So you can imagine my distress when one of my sitters called me yesterday morning, saying she couldn’t find one of the client’s cats anywhere. She’d been looking for half an hour, and this is one of those 200 year old houses without a lot of hiding places.
I called a family member who knows the cat well. She looked too…no cat. I went over and looked…no cat. By mid-day yesterday I had probably lost a year or two from my life span.
My husband reminded me of another situation many years ago, with a tiny little three month-old kitten. The fabulous bundle of fur was always underfoot; you had to be careful where you stepped so as not to stomp on her. On Christmas Day, however, she was nowhere to be found. A lovely Golden Retriever shared her home and went out to the back yard, and it wasn’t hard to imagine this orange baby cat going out under cover of the Golden, despite our vigilant eyes. We spent hours looking for her, inside and out, on a very cold day with sub-freezing temps predicted for the night.
Midday I had to call the cat’s guardian and ask her for any ideas about hiding places. Calling someone on Christmas Day to tell them you can’t find their 3 month-old kitten…not my favorite day. It wasn’t until that evening that that the kitten peeked through the basement cat door: “Are you looking for me?” She had found a tiny hole in a wall under the stairs and crawled in for her Christmas nap. It was hard to decide whether to hug or strangle the girl, but we settled for making a relived phone call to her “mom.”
I so hoped that the story would turn out to be the same with our missing cat yesterday. After making several trips, I decided to sequester the other resident cat in the master bedroom, where she pretty much lives anyway, and leave food out overnight for our AWOL cat, along with her litter, and went home for a restless night’s sleep.
You can imagine my relief this morning when I arrived to find the food eaten, and poop in the litter box. (Pet sitters spend so much time considering poop and pee…amazing how excited we can get about the stuff!) I have no idea where she was hiding. Like so many cats, she is a master hider. But we know she’s there, and that is better than imagining her outside right next to a very busy road.
It’s been about three years between the missing kitten and this latest cat. It would be okay with me if the next missing cat is at least another three years away. No one has actually escaped from us in all the years we’ve been in business (knock on wood), but these two kitties each took at least a couple years off my life. Maybe I’ll start putting bells on all the cats we pet sit!
Butterscotch is a barking machine. She was my dad’s dog first, and he lived out in the country, and he really loved that she barked when people were coming down the road. It alerted him to company, and he liked that. She had had nine years of practicing that skill when she came to live with me. We don’t need that level of barking so much. She literally runs out the door barking in case there is something worth barking at. Bark first, ask questions later.
I started working with her at one point, and was doing pretty well for awhile. Every time she barked, I silently hooked her up to the leash and took her inside. When she was quiet and calm, she got to go back out. She’s a pretty smart dog, and she got the hang of this pretty quickly. Quiet…stay out. Bark…you go inside.
But I got complacent, and the results were predictable. She’s barking again. This is not rocket science and I know what the answer is, but my schedule is crazy right now, and there you go.
I heard my husband talking to his middle son, who was visiting the other day, and he was explaining that we were working on Butterscotch’s barking problem. He told his son we were being semi-consistent with training. That is a much nicer phrase than the truth, which is that I am being inconsistent with training! But I like the phrase…semi-consistent. So much more positive, and less judgmental, than “inconsistent.” Semi-consistent may well become a new part of my vocabulary, and my explanation for many things that get done with less consistency than they deserve.
Summer is upon us, and for those of us who are pet sitters, this is crazy time. Busy, busy, busy…which is a good thing. Ands unlike so many folks for whom work is…well, work…I have been taking a master class in play. Thought you might like to meet some of my instructors.
An invitation to play if I ever saw one!
Toys are always good!
And playtime should always end with a good belly rub.