Recently, all my fake cat articles such as “5 Home Renovation Projects Your Cats Would Totally Commission” and “What Cats Want in the Hot Housing Market” have been mirroring one real-life thing: My family and I have been in the market for a new house. We finally found one. The cat came with us. So I’ve had the pleasure of watching our cat deal with the fact that I’ve uprooted her whole life and placed it across town — for the third time in her life.
It’s been an eventful week. Here’s what my cat has learned so far.
I dutifully followed the quarantine-method of acclimating my cat to her new home, depositing her in a bathroom with food, a litter box, and a pat on the head. She wanted none of it. The minute the movers extracted the last nickel from my pocket, she was pawing the door and issuing a suite of vocalizations worthy of the Lincoln Center. (She’s a Bengal.) We let her out. She proceeded to quickly, almost angrily inspect every inch of the place like she was an interior decorator at her mother-in-law’s house after too many white wines.
Soon she found one of the few doors we will never let her use to let her out — the kitchen door — and she promptly set up camp near it, darting over every time we so much as put our hand on the knob. No amount of handclaps or sharp nos have dissuaded her from the idea that she will soon be wandering freely in the land beyond the kitchen. We have a border war on our hands.
When we moved in we noticed some birds’ nests under the eaves, right above the patio door, but we didn’t think chicks would be falling out of them by the third day. But there we were, idly glancing out the windows and admiring our new atmosphere, when we suddenly noticed our cat squatting a few feet away from a fuzzy chick who was making no effort to do much of anything except breathe.
Our cat, weirdly, took it all in like a ornithologist making field notes. She was calm. Underwhelmed. Like every day a chick fell out of the sky and landed at her paws. No reason to get excited or anything and eat the thing — lets see how it plays out.
I, of course, lost my mind — MY CAT IS GONNA EAT A BABY CHICK — and I scooped kitty up on a run like a rugby player and tossed her in a bedroom. Then I headed gamely outside to usher the bird family thataway like I was conducting traffic — this way, birds! To the fence, to freedom! (At least I didn’t have the misfortune in this situation as associate editor Keith Bowers, who wrote in a recent Cat Dandy column that he was stark naked.)
Later that day, I learned via a frantic call that another chick and fallen from the sky — and that, in fact, the chick and mother bird were currently in the house — and I silently thanked our fixer-upper house that I was otherwise busy at a hardware store and could give only some hard-won advice to my wife: Hey, you better get those birds out of there! It must have worked, because I returned to a bird-free house, my cat under the bed, not looking at me, ruminating on the day’s events.
Every day wake up to bunnies in the yard, bunnies in the driveway, bunnies darting under the fence — and because this is coastal San Diego and not a bunny farm, it has taken some getting used to. But not for my cat. I am 100 percent sure that she has never seen a bunny, but the way she is absolutely unfazed by them you’d think she has not spent 90 percent of her life surrounded by drywall.
She doesn’t think that the bunnies are just odd looking cats. When she sees another cat her tail goes boof and stays that way until long after the threat is passed and she’s looking for a sun puddle to nap in as the boof slowly deflates, like a balloon with a leak.
Why is my cat not freaking out about a plump, eight-pound animal that looks like it does not have much in the way of claws, teeth, or any appreciable offensive or defensive capabilities? I think she wants to be friends.
In hindsight I realize that her frantic inspection of the house upon being released from bathroom quarantine might have been her casing the joint for suitable sleeping areas. For the past week, she’s been like Goldilocks up in this bitch. Her old cat bed, which she cycled into about three months ago and which seemed to be her dearest friend in the world, was brutally cast aside with the change of address. The first night, she slept in our bed — a nice touch. Then she was off and running — dozing on footstools, in closets, on chairs, and simply stretched out on the hardwoods, never the same place twice. She’s taken to sitting in the fireplace, her eyes slits. She reminds me of me trying to buy a bed at Macy’s.
When I moved, I broke her water fountain, because I’m an idiot, and trying to give a fountain kitty a bowl of fresh, cool, but decidedly non-moving water has proved to be the height of folly. It took her a few days, but she’s finally zeroed in on her faucet of choice: the one in the guest bathroom. When she is thirsty, I must act immediately or suffer an onslaught of accusatory meows. Oh, it’s 3 a.m.?, she meows. I didn’t realize because I DON’T HAVE MY FOUNTAIN.
Has your cat had trouble getting settled in a new place? Let us know in the comments.