I’ve been taking care of a friend’s cat for the past week. The friend lives only 10 minutes from me, so we left the cat in her own environment, and I’ve gone to visit her every other day. The advantage of this for the cat is that she gets to stay home where she’s comfortable. The disadvantage, from her point of view, is that she only gets an hour of interaction in 48.
Cats are funny little energy sensors. The last few times my friend traveled, an “errand-doer” was hired to look after her. This person did what I did: came every other day and took care of the cat’s needs. The errand-person had also agreed to stay for an hour and talk to, pet, and interact with the cat.
Cola is a shy cat, though. Errand-person would come roaring up the drive in her car, radio blasting, wheels squealing, and crash into the house shouting “Hi, Cola! Hi Cola!” During all the times Errand-person took care of Cola, she never saw Cola once. In fact, she’s never met Cola face-to-cat. The cat has hiding places undiscoverable by mere humans.
When I offered to give it a try, my friend jumped at the chance. I’m much more low-key and mellow than Errand-person. I drive sedately (usually). I listen to classical music or a news magazine in the car, and park quietly on the street.
The first day I came, I sat in the living room for five minutes, then slowly walked through the house speaking softly to Cola, using her name. The cat had met me briefly once before, but had decided to retire to her secret location soon after I arrived.
On this occasion, she did not honor me with her presence, but did speak to me a bit from her undisclosed location. I still couldn’t discover where that was.
During my second visit, I repeated my previous behaviour before feeding Cola, and began to hear her soft high-pitched voice agin. This time I sat still on the floor for a while, and eventually a little cat-body emerged. I stayed put while she kept her distance, checking me out. Finally, she sniffed at my outstretched fingers, and deemed me worthy to feed and clean her litter box. After eating, she even let me pet her and pick her up! By the time I was ready to go, she didn’t want me to.
The third time I visited, Cola came out after two minutes, gave me a look as if to say: “Oh, you again”, and told me that eating soon was on her agenda. We’ve gotten along fine ever since.