How about a post that doesn’t mention cat pee or poop?
Recently, I went on a blind coffee date with an attorney. He ordered spearmint tea and baklava and declared, “If I ever have a pet, it’ll be a black and brown cat!”
“You mean a tortie?” I asked.
“Huh?” he responded.
“Never mind,” I said, taking out my phone where I store a photo of Hannah and Sam. I showed it to him. “I have two cats.”
My date studied the picture of Hannah and Sam sitting on a windowsill together when Sam was just a year old. Whenever I’ve shared this photo with anyone the usual response is, “Oh they’re so cute!” or “Hannah is pretty,” or “The look on Sam’s face is priceless.”
My date looked a bit perturbed. “You have skinny cats,” he said. He looked up at me then and I saw he had crazy eyes.
Now, I didn’t reject my date just because of his response to the cats. I’d spent over an hour with him by that point, feeling disoriented by his egomaniacal speech and strange point of view on issues of culture, money, and parking spots. But now I felt it was truly confirmed: this wasn’t going to work.
I spent the first two weeks of January at a creative writing MFA residency at Lesley University – local, but very long days, which kept me away for regularly-scheduled cat feedings and required that I set up the automatic timed feeders for Hannah and Sam.
The first day, I was in such a rush that I knocked one of the feeders over, causing kibble to spill all over the garret kitchenette floor. Sam was more than happy to help me clean up. He moved his mouth across the floor as if he were a vacuum cleaner. Over the course of the residency, my mind scattered, I’d repeat this klutz performance more than once.
The hectic residency schedule left me with no down time, which aggravated my PTSD-related anxiety. I slept little, and in the morning had to rush the cat feeding. Normally, Sam eats his breakfast in one gobble, but Hannah eats only half, then takes a break. In order to prevent Sam from eating her food and make sure Hannah gets her nutrition, every morning I put away Hannah’s bowl after her first round, eat my own breakfast, then present the bowl to her again, at which time she eats the remaining food, but only when she’s assured that Sam isn’t going to intrude. She looks around anxiously, part-paralyzed with the anticipation of the orange tabby pushing his way into her bowl. Sam cries if I place him in another room, which only causes Hannah to leave her bowl and sniff the door where Sam is. So I don’t put Sam in another room. Instead, I take out his favorite multi-colored string toy and we play on the other side of the room. Seeing that Sam is safely occupied, Hannah lowers her face to the bowl and crunches on one kibble at a time.
During the residency, I became impatient with the timeframe of this method, but I took note of Hannah’s mindful eating, an approach that created great calm for her. She reminded me of the importance of slowing down, to digest one thing at a time.