We just got back Friday from a 14-day vacation to Alaska. I will probably post about that trip sometime later, but this is about the effects of being gone on our animals, mainly, our cat.
We don’t have children, but we do have several pets. First, there is Murphy. Murphy is a 26-year old Goffins Cockatoo whom has been with my Husband since Murphy was four years old. When I met my Husband, they came as a set, so I not only got a man, I also became the female in Murphy’s life. Not long after we began living together, Murphy began using Wil as bridge to get to me. He is so affectionate that you just can’t resist him.
We were concerned about leaving him for so long as he is such a social creature. We have seen birds that have been neglected start plucking their own feathers and that is an extremely difficult behavior to reverse. Luckily, we have a wonderful next door neighbor that loves animals. She came over twice a day to not only feed and clean up after the pets, but also socialize with them.
We have a 90-gallon aquarium with a variety of fresh water fish. They were probably the most upset, but until they start talking, we’ll never know.
Kamir Marie, better known as Prissy, is our 8-year old Labradoodle. She has a big curl, peaches and cream colored coat and the most beautiful golden eyes. They told us her eyes would change to brown, but they never did. She is very happy outside most of the time and has her own heated mat, porch and doggie door that leads to a large, fenced in area and her own veranda deck. She still gets lonely though.
Then, there is Gracie Mae. She is our 7-year old farm cat. Wil’s parents live on a 70-acre farm with pastures, hayfield, and a creek that runs through a grove of old oaks. They always seem to have a litter of kittens somewhere. Wil never wanted a cat because of Murphy. He was afraid that Murphy would get out of his cage and then, well, you know what could happen. Well, that day, he picked up this kitten and asked if we should take her home. I told him not to tease me and she came home with us that night! She is a black and white cat whose markings look like God had black paint on his hand and picked her up with that hand. She is so spoiled. She has her own pillow with a hand-made quilt (cat sized) between us at night. We are her pride.
When we brought her home, after a few weeks/month or so, we thought we might try to acclimate her to the bird. We have a very large bedroom where she stays when Murphy is out of his cage or we aren’t around to supervise. We got on the floor with them, Wil with Gracie and I with Murphy so we could monitor the interactions closely and be able to intervene before Murphy got hurt. I was as proud as punch when Gracie went up to smell Murphy. They were nose to beak. She sniffed him and then dismissed him as not being worthy (as a cat would do). She turned to walk away and as she brought her tail around, Murphy reached out, bit down and pulled her tail with his beak. Such a trouble maker! She turned around with her head cocked and waving one paw in the air as if to say “Why, I oughta…”. If Murphy had squawked really loud and jumped forward, he would have proved his dominance and they would have probably been fine from then on. What did he do? He turned tail, with his wings out limping like prey. So much for togetherness! Cat 1, bird 0.
Looking for harmony, we brought Prissy and Gracie together. Prissy is always eager to meet new people, animals, bugs, poop, anything she sees actually. She was so proud of herself one day when she brought a live rabbit into her porch through the doggy door. The rabbit, screaming at the top of its lungs, was not as eager to come in for tea. Well, Gracie was perched on a chair with her front paws on the back of the chair. Prissy came in close to smell her. Gracie reached out and pulled Prissy a little closer by pulling on a tuft of fur and then proceeded to pound her with a right (clawless) hook to the nose. You could hear the echo in Prissy’s mouth. Poor girl. Needless to say now, Gracie is runs the house. She will approach Prissy’s water bowl, make sure Prissy is watching, and just dip her paw into it to clean. It drives Prissy crazy, but she knows Gracie can throw a punch.
So when we planned this vacation, Gracie was the animal we were least concerned about leaving. She being a cat and we being human, we didn’t feel as if we were going to be missed that much. She had someone to wait on her, bring her not only hard, but also soft food and lots of treats. I made her a cave to snuggle in with her favorite red blanket. She was set.
When we got home from our vacation, she was the most needy! Murphy was fine, Prissy wanted some rubbing and treats, but Gracie wouldn’t stop purring until she fell asleep that night. She had to be touching one of us for two days straight, even if it was with a paw while she laid above us on the back of the sofa. She stalked my Husband until he sat on the sofa or chair so she could lay on his chest. She followed me to the bathroom, cried if I got a little bit ahead of her, and I received more heat butts the first two days back than in her whole life. Well, the third evening, we went to bed and there was no Gracie. We called, shook her treat bottle, looked around the house, no Gracie. We went to bed and left the bedroom door open in case she was out in the other parts of the house. It drove me crazy. I got up twice and went through the house. Now we own a duplex, and our half is 1600 square feet. That translates into two bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen and family room. No Gracie. Wil went with me a second time. I was so afraid we would find her curled up dead somewhere. My cat, Floie, died at the vet’s the first weekend I went to meet Wil’s parents and we lost a dog, Friday, because she got into some antifreeze the day we got back from our honeymoon. That kept going through my mind. Come morning, still no Gracie. We searched the house and got on our hands and knees with the flashlight and found her behind something under our bed. It took a while to coax her out and she seemed scared.
We pondered such odd behavior. What could have brought this on? Do we have a ghost/spirit in the house? What could have scared her so bad? Something clicked. Our neighbor said we had some severe storms when we were gone on vacation. We had a thunderstorm when we went to bed that night. She had never shown any fear of storms before we left, but she had never been through a storm by herself. We aren’t scared of storms, so she had never seen us too nervous by a storm, but by herself without the safety of her pride, maybe she felt vulnerable. I guess she feels closer to us than we ever imagined a cat would care about lowly humans. We like to think that we are so strong and independent, but perhaps we all face fears better with those we love. It’s nice to be part of a pride.