This picture is like, totally weird, right?
Where’s the light dusting of fine hairs? Where are the two glowing little eyes either blinking welcomingly for you to snuggle up with them or sending a warning a glare to STAY AWAY HUMAN DISAPPOINTMENT?
Where is the spot where an artistic feline “improved” the look and texture of a couch cushion?
We’ve all been there. Staying in a cat-free house is WEIRD.
Beyond the fact that I found myself absentmindedly petting throw pillows, oven mitts, and tea cozies, I’ve found that staying in a cat-free house comes with its own mess of withdrawal symptoms. Old habits die hard, and much like an elite athlete, much of cat ownership is muscle memory.
While staying with my in-laws for a week, I found myself deep into all the bizarro behaviors of a cat parent without a cat to, well, parent. While invisible to the unobservant eye (okay, the eating stuff might have been oddly obvious; more on that later), a vigilant cat parent would most certainly have recognized my behavior.
So here are my observations from my brief, jet-lagged jaunt into cat-free life. I wasn’t a fan, but it certainly confirmed the fact that while you can take the “cat” out of “crazy cat lady,” you can’t do the same with the “crazy.”
Here are five observations from a cat-free life:
Notice I didn’t say “wake up.”
Sure, I could wake up, but without the constant “meow, meow, meow, feed me, feed me, meow, meow, pet me, feed me, meow, ME-OW,” getting out of bed and actually, you know, DOING STUFF, became a long, drawn-out process.
It went something like this: Wake up. No cat meowing in my face. Roll over go back to sleep. Wake up. Feed social media addiction by checking Facebook/Twitter/Instagram on iPad. Still no cat pouncing on my stomach trying to get me out of bed. Doze. Wake up. Fling self out of bed. Contemplate returning (50/50 chance).
I mean, look at this sad, catless bed. What’s the point?
So, I don’t know about you, but Brandy the Cat feels that it is her God-given right to partake of all dishes involving fish or cheese. It doesn’t matter if I made it for me, for MY dinner, she has no problem shoving her furry little face and paws into my eating space. Paws on plates, head butting up against mine wile I try to eat — nothing is sacred.
So I’ve developed this sort of knee-jerk “keep the kitty away” posture of flailing limbs and strategic cranial mobility (my husband calls it the “Creepy Food Obsessed Kid Position”).
It totally works and is not weird (I swear) when there are demanding paws and determined noses trying to get to my grilled Mahi Mahi.
But take away the cats, and you’re just that weird, twitchy aunt, hunchbacked over her fried fish.
I found myself “assuming the position” on fish fry night with my in-laws. My mother-in-law grazed my elbow at the dinner table, and I actually FLINCHED. I kept waiting for expectant claws to tug at my pants.
Even stranger, I could place my food on the table — ANY TABLE — and walk away without anybody stealing it. Living with cats is kind of like having too little to eat while living with many Viking siblings. Turning your back and not having your food stolen reeks of sadness, loneliness, and privilege. No sir, I don’t like it.
I’m going to say I was dreaming. I’m a very vivid dreamer. I talk in my sleep. I’ve even been known to sleep walk a bit. I’m also easily spooked.
But I’d rather think that Lucky the Gray Cat (my husband’s childhood kitty) came to check up on me in the middle of the night …
… rather than the alternative:
Dolls, man. I’ll take ghost-Lucky the Gray Cat any day.
When’s the last time you did this?
I actually hesitated to lay out some of my black clothes after they came out of the dryer a little damp. “Even if a cat doesn’t sleep on it, it’ll get cat hair on it and — OH WAIT!”
I felt almost naughty laying out my black clothes. Like I was tempting fate. But there was nothing to tempt!
I put my black clothes out on the bed, walked away, then WENT BACK to check on them. No cat hair.
It was so cool.
I was in cat withdrawal, OK? I missed my kitties.
So one day when I was coming back from the grocery store in my mother-in-law’s car, I saw a really cool, cranky looking, Maine Coon-ish (I’m not sure what she was, frankly she looked like Old Deuteronomy) hanging out in a neighbor’s driveway. I swerved to a halt at the end of the driveway, narrowly missing the mailbox, and took the best picture of the cat I could with my iPad (which I carried with me for map directions ÔÇª and cat pictures).
The cat was not amused. I could almost hear him saying in a whiskey-soaked Maine accent, “I don’t like you, ya hear?” But I was so tickled I kept going back and looking at the picture for the next couple days. I shared it with everyone. It was my sad version of a cat fix.
And those are the highlights of my cat-free adventure. If this post reads a little loopy, it’s because I am still a bid jet-lagged.
But jet-lagged or not, being carsick brought out the weirdo cat parent in me and while it was momentarily amusing — it’s a side of myself I don’t wish to visit often. I need my kitties!
Tell us! Have any of you ever been in cat withdrawal? Any ingrained behaviors from living with cats for so long? What are your die hard cat parent habits? Tell us in the comments!
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About the author: Louise Hung is a morbidly inclined cat lady living in Yokohama, Japan, with her cat, her man, and probably a couple ghost cats. She also writes for xoJane. You can follow her on Twitter or drop her a line at IamLouiseMicaela@gmail.com