This lengthy isolating stay in my home during this last Covid year has been made more tolerable and even enjoyable by the joys, challenges, interesting behavioirs and fun, that is my black cat, Norie. She has what I consider some pretty intelligent methods of communication. She is a pro at making me laugh; giving me company; and teaching me lessons. In spite of the above delightful attributes, she can be irritable, sneaky, and pushy. So she manages to keep me busy.
When Norie wants food, she comes to sit where I have good eye contact with her. Then she looks at me and licks her lips with her little pink tongue. She stays in my line of sight until I tell her, ” I will feed you in just a minute, after I finish this.” She stays put or comes closer to me if she feels I have made her wait too long.
If she wants food much earlier than she is supposed to be fed I set the timer for 30 minutes or however many minutes are lacking and tell her, “When the ‘beep-beep’ goes off, I will feed you.” She actually seems to understand I am not going to change my mind or forget! So she lays down nearby untill the ‘beep-beep’ goes off. Then she runs to the door and sits in the doorway of the bedroom, waiting for me, lest I forget the way!
Then there is the issue of when to wake up. I have to get up 30 minutes to an hour before I can eat after taking a pill for stomach problems. So I get up about 6:30 AM and feed her and sometimes go back to sleep. I hardly ever really need to set the clock. Often I awaken when I feel someone looking at me in the early dusk of the morning and there she is sitting near my head waiting for me to respond. Sometimes I feel when she jumps up on the bed, which gives me some warning. I used to wake up at 7 AM and she woke me up then too. Now she has set her inner clock back 30 minutes somehow!
One morning she woke me up and I looked at the clock and saw 6:29! I cleared my sleepy eyes and looked again and the clock changed to 6:30! Wow, I was amazed at her deadly accuracy! She also knows that after breakfast for her about an hour to two hours later (if one of us takes a nap) it is time to give her her medicines. So about 8:30 AM she comes to sit in front of me or sometimes stands in the doorway of my bedroom and stares at me.
One of the challenges has been to help her lose weight without wasting lots of canned food. Her veterirnarian put her on a diet: one and a half cans of a canned pate food per day plus 60 ml of a weight loss dry food at night to graze on. With that feeding schedule, one half can serving would sit out about 5 hours. I found out that wet cat food should not be left out longer than 4 hours. So I would end up throwing out a tablespoon of food about twice a day.
That adds up! From my post-Depression era rearing, I hate to waste food, even cat food. So with the above waste mounting in my head after days, along with the guilt, I started feeding her a fourth of a can every 2 1/2 hours-3 hours. I waste a lot less food and I get more exercise instead of sitting in the recliner too much. She has lost one pound over the last year, which is good for a cat.
She keeps me company and makes me laugh often. When I am sitting in the recliner I open the curtains and blinds to the window when it warms up. She loves to sit there soaking up morning rays. She lies with half of her body on the stacking blue boxes and the other half on the window sill. She also makes me laugh when I get up from the recliner and walk around to the other side of the bed, I look down and there she is on her back staring up at me with her front paws resting on her chest. I can’t help but laugh at how cute she is.
Norie has been teaching me about sharing my living space with another very independent, sometimes not affectionate, sometimes territorial being. Several months ago I was reccovering from a painful friendship and still learning how to take up for myself when necessary. I already learned from two different relationships to be the peacekeeper; be agreeable, try not to care too much to keep myself calm, (if not keeping my then spouse calm).
Norie likes only so much petting once she has been given her morning affection and she marks me as hers with her cheeks and licks. Norie gets overstimulated with what’s for her “too much” petting; which is the only time she nips at me. I learned to be very aware of her tail, eyes and ears for signs of overstimulation. Once I must have missed something or misjudged Norie while she was in my lap. She nipped my hand and drew a drop of blood.
I threw her on the floor and yelled at her for biting me. I was sobbing and then I found myself saying, “I didn’t deserve that! Just like that friend.” and after a few more tears,” and my husband!” Suddenly I realized that I had not been aware of the pain caused by two people I had been close to. Now I felt the pain and let it out. We get along much better now.
The other thing I learned is to guard my nicely warmed recliner when I have to go to another room. Norie finds a warm seat irresistible. So when I get up I tell her, “I am coming right back!” (She knows what this means.) When I come back, I find that she has inevitably spread herself over the seat enough to “graciously” give me a fraction of the seat I was sitting on. I have the recliner covered with a padded cover. When I come back and she doesn’t move when I tell her I want my seat back, all I have to do is lift the recliner cover to lift her out of the seat. Planning ahead for these eventualities is very helpful.
I am still very thankful for Norie’s company every day. At least I have someone besides myself to talk to. She is pretty smart and can be very funny.