It took a while for me to get settled in last night. My caffeine intake has increased and it’s been difficult for me to go to bed at my usual time. Not that it’s all bad, as I was able to get all the pressing housework done in a quick burst of pre-bed energy as my husband dozed peacefully on the couch. Although, as expected, falling asleep was tricky; and as a result, it took me a while to rouse myself this morning. I got a late start today, not because I had any more or less time to get ready, but because I spent the time I should have been focusing on getting out the door on paying attention to the silly cats instead.
Since we lost the oldest, Isabelle, in October, there has been a dynamic shift in our home. Among the three surviving kitties, the oldest and frankly biggest pain in my behind, Abby, has given us the most trouble. She has been with us since she was about six weeks old, a “free kittens” bulletin on my former job’s electronic board lead us to pick her, the alpha kitten from her litter, a beautiful and soft little scruff of fur who we took home and tried out best to love.
Abby has been trouble from the start. Having never raised a cat from a kitten before, I made all kinds of mistakes, nearly all with boundaries and discipline that I just didn’t know to do. In fact, because she was so small, I enjoyed riling her up and “playing” which seemed more to tap into aggressive behaviors on her part. Not that we did anything to hurt her, but what I found out later was that I should have been using different techniques to train her. Now, her coping mechanisms and skills are based on biting or scratching when she is upset, rather than understanding the need to break away and go our separate ways to cool off.
I feel bad, because it’s not her fault. When we started having litter box issues, I blamed myself, for not having trained her correctly. I blamed it on the move, because her acting out became more consistent after we relocated. But after we adopted the male cat, Simcoe, we began to see a whole new side of her. She began to withdraw totally from us with the presence of the new cat. We tried everything we could think of from force integration to completely separate accommodations for her. Nothing seemed to work, so we consulted with the vet. Our last hope was to attempt to medicate both her and Simcoe (who was displaying his own anxious behaviors and acting out) with a low dose of kitty anti-depressant. Yes, you read that correctly, we give our cats Prozac.
And, the craziest part is that it’s sort of working. Every now and again, we have a litter box issue or occasional fight between them. For the most part, everything is okay. We don’t expect them to be best buddies, but we are very happy that they’ll be in the same room, sometimes on the same couch. We still give Abby a break and put her in the closed room downstairs which has litter boxes, food and water just for her. She goes in when we go to bed, so that the others can’t gang up on her (which we found out that they do).
I go pick her up in the morning and bring her back upstairs. She usually follows me around the house as I’m getting ready for the day. Since she spends her nights in isolation, I try to give her a bit of special attention when I’m getting ready. This morning she followed me into my closet as I closed the door to get dressed. Like most cats, she likes to climb up to the highest point possible, and will be quite happy given the opportunity to get even a few minutes to sit on a perch. Since I’m cleaning out my closets for the great wardrobe rebuild, I let her climb up to the top shelf and settle on my overnight back while I picked out my outfit.
Then I realized, I couldn’t leave her up there all day, and as time ticked down, I had to figure out a strategy to get her to peacefully let her down. I grabbed a few cat treats, and she was more than willing to relinquish her position. Unfortunately, the sound of the treat container alerted more kitties to the goings on, and they came to investigate. My sense of fairness and urgent need to get out the door on time were in a direct conflict, as now I had a mewling hoard of kitties all wanting attention and a handful of the kitty treats.
When I finally got out the door, it was a full 15 minutes later than I had intended. This invoked the standard rule of morning commute, which is for every minute one is late leaving for work, the time compounds exponentially until reaching an apex of both being really late to arrive and expending the exponentially shrinking parking spot availability while exponentially increasing the distance one must now have to walk to reach their desk. Maybe someone with advanced math skills can draw up an equation for us. But, at any rate, my poor choices (both long and short term) have lead up to a frustrating morning that put me nearly a half mile from my office this morning, and I have yet to even really delve into what else this day has in store for me.