The Ukiah Daily Journal

Kitty chronicles, chapter four: The very first sleepover


I should not have been surprised how deeply and how quickly I fell in love with the orange kitty. When he slept on my picnic table for a month, we exchanged pleasantri­es and petted in a friendly yet appropriat­e manner. I welcomed him into my home the game changed. The more you love, the more you have to lose. What if he breaks my heart?

Cats can be fickle. Could I make him happy? Would he use my grandmothe­r's rocking chair as a cat scratcher?

The first night he came indoors was magical. I was careful to move slowly and petted him until his fur was as soft as a chinchilla. Wet food was involved.

When a relationsh­ip is new it's easy to overlook things that will drive us crazy a year in the future. This cat kneaded my pink woven comforter with his paws until I was sure some threads had gone bare. After what seemed like 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, he closed his eyes and began deep rhythmic breathing. This sounds hokey, but that first night I literally fell asleep holding his hand.

What's next?

In my childhood, our family adopted cats from the front of the grocery store. Some sad kit would be stuck with a box of kittens until he had found them all homes. “My parents say they'll take the kittens to the pound if we can't give them away,” the kid would say with so much sadness you had to at least stop to look.

My sister and I would cry and beg our parents not to let the kitty die at the pound. Sometimes our parents said yes, but we never had more than one cat at a time.

We kept the cat indoors for two weeks, cleaned poop off the carpet, gave instructio­n on litter box etiquette and endured

yowling in the wee hours as the kitten wailed for its mother.

When orange kitty came indoors I knew I could not keep him contained for two weeks. He had already tasted the sun, the moon and the stars. Plus, I had not yet purchased a litter box.

My big question was whether he would stick around or become a ramblin' man.

The first morning he started yowling at 5 a.m., pacing in front of the front door. I was too smitten to note that his propensity to assert his immediate needs could rub me raw. I was just glad he was there, and more than happy to wake up early and open the door.

I also spent a lot of money — a huge bag of dry food, a litter box, treats and a few cans of wet food. Giving gifts is not normally my love language, but I was willing to give it a try.

Yet, when I came home from work that day the furball was not waiting on my picnic table.

I called my sister to talk through my insecuriti­es and she sent me Youtube videos about making cats happy.

One self-proclaimed and flamboyant Youtuber convinced me that cat's need meat.

“Don't feed your cat dry food,” the videoman espoused, before making his pitch for his book and specialty cat toys. “Cats need meat. I repeat, feed them wet food.”

I wished I had bought a smaller bag of dry food.

I checked the picnic table. Still no cat.

That same night I watched all the Netflix documentar­ies about cat communicat­ion and the wonders of training your cat. (Cats may interpret direct eye contact as a sign of aggression. Better to look into their eyes softly, then blink as if you're about to fall asleep. I tried this. It works).

Around midnight, I turned off the living room light and prepared to turn in. There was a mew at the door. I ran for the wet food.

The holidays were approachin­g and I knew I would need to go away for several nights to visit family. I hoped our short but intense bonding was enough to keep him around while I was out of town.

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 ?? HEATHER HACKING — CONTRIBUTE­D ?? The orange kitty on the bed.
HEATHER HACKING — CONTRIBUTE­D The orange kitty on the bed.

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