Cat co­nun­drum puts a hitch in my travel plans

MOTH­ER­LODE

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LOR­RAINE SOMMERFELD www.lor­raineon­line.ca

If you think my cats are spoiled, you’d be right.

Most peo­ple go away for a few days and just have a neigh­bour stop in to feed their cats twice a day. Most cats are cool with this. My cats are not. They’re used to some­one be­ing here 24 hours a day, and have been since I started work­ing at home.

Now the kids have moved out, it’s posed a co­nun­drum. My abil­ity to pick up and leave on a whim to head to the cot­tage has been com­pro­mised.

I’m not stuff­ing three cats into cages, es­pe­cially one who pukes when he looks at a car, to go on a ride they don’t want to take to a place they don’t want to go.

But I’ve dis­cov­ered a bril­liant so­lu­tion: Sarah.

Sarah lives across the street, and she’s an­other of my sec­ond daugh­ters. She tells the oth­ers she is First Sec­ond Daugh­ter. She buys me Mother’s Day cards, some­thing my own kids don’t even do. When I need to be away, she moves in here for as long as I need her.

She adores the cats, but I’m aware she’s be­ing nice. Mark and Cairo are fe­line ter­ror­ists, though Sweet Pea (whose gen­der was re­cently con­fused by a friend, and who now also an­swers to Pete) is a doll.

Sarah knows ex­actly how to sep­a­rate them for feed­ing and who is al­lowed to sleep where. I toss Mark and Cairo into the base­ment at night. Sarah lets them sleep with her. She is very hon­est about why she’s happy to help me out: my bed.

I have a fab­u­lous king-size bed, and when I pimped my house that time I didn’t sell it, I had to in­vest in white sheets and cov­ers and pil­lows. I thought it was in­sane, but now I’m like a woman who has been taken over by a cult. The up­side is a bed that ri­vals those of the swanki­est ho­tels I’ve stayed in, and a Sarah who loves to stay here. I leave her money; she leaves notes say­ing things like, “Cut it out, I’ll stay here for the bed alone.”

I come home to cats who are so zen, they ig­nore me when I walk in. I’m sur­prised they don’t text Sarah them­selves and tell her to come over.

My sis­ter, Roz, has a slightly dif­fer­ent cat prob­lem. Two of her own go north with her, but she is also re­spon­si­ble for a feral named Mom Cat. In her city, if you man­age to get a feral cat to their vet, they will pay for the spay­ing or neu­ter­ing but you have to sign up to feed and shel­ter it.

Mom Cat has lived a very nice ex­is­tence for a few years now, her own cat condo on my sis­ter’s deck and reg­u­lar meals. Leav­ing for va­ca­tion al­ways poses a prob­lem.

“I’m check­ing to see if the neigh­bours will be around,” she told me. “Or maybe that other woman down the street who I know is feed­ing her too.”

She pro­nounced it like Other Woman. I was at the cot­tage with the kids for a few days when she called, and we were plan­ning cat strate­gies.

“Too bad you don’t have a Sarah,” I told her need­lessly.

We hung up and Ari, 22, asked who I’d been talk­ing to.

“Rozzy. Try­ing to sort out what to do with Mom Cat while they’re up here,” I replied. He looked at me quizzi­cally. “Don’t they just bring her with them and put her out­side here?” he asked.

Who says fer­als aren’t part of the fam­ily?

ULIANNA, GETTY IM­AGES/IS­TOCK­PHOTO

My cats are used to some­one be­ing here 24 hours a day, and have been since I started work­ing at home.

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