Adventures in Cat-sitting

The other day I began to write a long piece on differential racialization and George Zimmerman since he’s in the news again for pulling a gun on his girlfriend. Gosh, if only some prior incidents could have indicated to us that Zimmerman is a trigger happy sociopath. Anyway, long story short, I believe perceptions of Zimmerman’s race and the egregiousness of his crimes partially change in relation to the race of his victims. But, my ability to coherently discuss much of anything has been disrupted by my sudden foray into cat-sitting.

My roomie went on an epic, automobile quest back to the land of the ice and snow known to the rest of you as the Midwestern United States. Ze asked me if I could watch after zir cats for a couple of weeks, and I readily agreed to do so. I figured it’s no skin off my hide, and I like pets. I can totally do this, I thought. So, my roomie left on Monday, and I began my adventure with a bag of litter, a fresh bag of cat food, and three cats.

I realized they knew that my roomie wouldn’t be back for a while when I exited the bathroom to find the smallest cat, Eileen, standing in front of my bedroom door with one of her toys next to her. I stared at her. She started at me. As the tense standoff stretched on (imagine The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), I finally asked, “What’s going on, cat?” As if she understood, she gazed at me, then her toy, then back at me. Oh. She wanted to play. I grabbed the toy, tossed it around the house as she chased it, and she seemed pleased enough.

This may not seem extraordinary until you know that Eileen exists as the living embodiment of Anxiety Cat. This cat usually high tails it out of the room the moment she spots me. So, this? This was huge. This was paradigm shifting. This was monumental.

A cat with it's ears back and wide eyes sits against a purple and yellow, striped background.
Accurate representation of Eileen

Yet, I quickly realized that I know fuck-all about cats. My family owned cats throughout most of my childhood, and I helped care for them. But, I never cared for them on my own. I began questioning my every move. What if I misinterpreted a behavior? What if they got annoyed with me because I’m not their human? What if I sucked at cat sitting and my roomie came home to a disaster?

Here are just a few of the cat related questions I’ve Googled in the last couple of days:

  • Why do cats follow me around and meow at me?
  • How do you know if you’re allergic to cats?
  • Why do cats sleep so much?
  • How do I keep cats off of the table?
  • Why do cats vomit?
  • How do I get cats to stop clawing the couch?
  • Why do cats rub against my leg?
  • How often should cats poop?
  • Why do cats like catnip?
A cat with it's ears back and wide eyes sits against a purple and yellow, striped background.
Accurate representation of Me

Okay, so, I’m a novice at the cat thing. But, thus far, they’ve been well-fed, hydrated, and as mischievous and playful as ever. So, I must have done something right. But, what really made my anxiety flare was the realization that this will be the longest stretch of time I’ve ever spent home alone. Oh, I’ve had my own place before, but my younger brother stayed with me then. The longest I’d ever previously been home alone were the three or four day stretches my former roomie left on a trip back home or with some friends.

Boredom quickly set in, and I started trolling the cats, because of course. I moved Eileen’s fuzzy ball from the spot where she likes it. I tapped on the living room window to watch Mr. Z’ha’dum (for you Babylon 5 fans) wildly search for the source of the noise. You know, super mature, adult things like that.

Image of a smile troll face that reads, "problem?"
More accurate representation of me

The magnitude of the situation didn’t register until I settled in the first night to do what I always do when I’m home alone at night. That’s to say, I freaked myself right the hell out by watching paranormal reality shows in my underwear and with a large glass of wine. Halfway into the Ghost Adventures marathon, as I jumped at every little creak and noise in the house, Pye, the little Siamese kitty, looked at me quizzically as if to ask, “What the hell, yo? Why are you so spooked?”

Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, and Nick Groff of the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" shine lights and hold cameras.
It’s scarier at night by yourself, I promise. Phot0 ©Travel Channel

I knew that Pye with the imaginary inquires I made up was right, at least about my scaring every two seconds because I was alone. With her, Eileen, and Z’ha here with me, I’m not really home alone. Whether it’s Eileen asking me to play, Pye rubbing against my legs for some cuddles, or Z’ha meowing at me until I pet and play with him, I’ve got plenty do to and plenty of company for the next couple of weeks. That realization comforts me, and I’m looking forward to more adventures in cat-sitting.

Readers, do you have any cat-sitting suggestions, tips, or stories?

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Marena recently earned her Master of Arts degree in Social Justice & Human Rights & primarily explores social justice issues in the production & consumption of popular mass media. You may find her creating fanworks, testing her hand-eye coordination with beadweaving, flailing over her fictional faves, reading everything from fanfic to theory texts, or watching low budget sci-fi. You can find her writing on Marena ni yukyats.

19 thoughts on “Adventures in Cat-sitting”

  1. This article and the comments have been so helpful! I’m a dog person and know dog behaviors, but one of my friends has cats and when I’m over, I have no idea how to play with them. The rubbing up against me, the sudden darting out of the room (hard not to take that one personally). :) I’m definitely going to try the blinking thing next time.

  2. I am a cat person! I can help!

    1. Boxes. When they get riled up, give them a box. They’ll keep themselves entertained for hours.
    2. Blink at them really slow. I know! It’s going to feel silly, but it’s how they tell each other everything’s cool.
    3. Meat flavored baby food is like ambrosia from the gods to cats. If you need to make nice, or bribe one, it’s a rarely-fail trick.
    4. I don’t know how they poop so much. I have three cats, and those little poop machines create their weight in waste at least twice a week.

    1. Yay! Thank you kindly for the advice. I’m going to ask my roomie if it’s okay to try out the baby food trick because I need something in my back pocket if they’re not here for me. And, I’m defs. going to try the other ones too. We have a few empty boxes I can give them.

      And, oh my god, YES. It’s amazing how much they fill their litter boxes in a day. I’ve been scooping them twice a day (my roomie and I usually switch of when ze’s here), and each time I’m like, “WOW.” At least I know they’re eating well, haha.

    2. My cat won’t blink at me, like, EVER! I think he might still be annoyed about the whole “us getting a dog” thing, but it’s been 7 years, one would think he’d be over it by now.

      Although, it could also be because he’s screwing with my head. Case in point: when we got him, he hid from us pretty much 24-7. My in-laws came for a visit a few months later and we told them that we had a cat, but they’d probably never see it. In-laws walk in the door, TommyCat comes down the hall, all meowy like “Hey! Where ya been? Long time, no see, buuuuuddy.”

      Also, the answer to all your “Why does my cat…” is because it’s a cat.

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