It’s been about six months since Emily joined us as the new cat in the house. She is so different from our late, beloved Annie that she could be a whole new species. Annie was guarded and remote, but allowed a deep connection to a select few. Emily is ready to meet and greet all new faces, and did not hesitate to explore and claim her new residence as her own. It’s too soon to evaluate the deep connection thing – that takes time.
Let’s back up though, and fill out the narrative on how Emily came our way.
When we visited the Peninsula Humane Society to check out the cats we weren’t planning to bring one home that day. For a few weeks we’d been monitoring the Available Cats page, and identified a couple attractive candidates. Just after Thanksgiving we went down there to check them out, but both had been adopted out that week. Good for them. So instead of those two we roamed the cat rooms and saw a few contenders. Our requirements list was not too restrictive; a young adult (2-7 years), a color scheme that differed from our beautiful tortoiseshell Annie, and a lady cat would be preferred. They have a good selection of cats, and we pulled the cards for three or four that matched our criteria. One was very shy and maybe not feeling 100%. She made her way out of hiding to hit the food dish, but then went back into hiding. She shared her condo with a couple of giant 12-year-olds, and I think the whole scene was too much for her. Not making much of a connection there, we arranged a meet with “May”, who was in her own cage, rather than free-ranging in a condo.
This cat was not shy at all, walking right up to us, sitting or standing on our laps, and seemed very curious about the world around her. She also was a little kitty, only about 7 lbs., with an extremely soft gray coat. It was hard not to like this cat right away. We tried to get her to play with some toys, but she showed little interest. Not a problem. Annie wasn’t big on toys either. I’ve been around cats some, and this one had a lot going for her. Before too long we both started thinking, yeah, we’re going to be taking a cat home today. And we’re going to replace that shelter name while we’re at it. Welcome home, Emily.
They say you should ease your new cat into her surroundings by keeping her in a confined space, and little by little allow her to see and then venture out into the house. Maybe take three days or so. Emily was having none of that. Lemme out, she said (an early indication of how vocal she was), and she sauntered out of her holding area and explored the other rooms. Yep, checks out, she said. She had her feeding station and litter box all set, some windows to look out of, and a couple of people to lavish her with praise. This oughta do, she said.
The first few weeks were a lot of fun, as we observed Emily’s hijinks and shenanigans. It was holiday time, and Emily got right into the festive spirit. This was right after the 2016 election, which didn’t exactly go our way, so it was great having our new friend to cheer us up. At the same time, having a cat around again brought back a lot of memories of dear old Annie. There’ll be no replacing that cat. Emily brought with her a whole new set of cat attributes, a mysterious past, and some strange ways.
What about that mysterious past? The shelter had little information to share, as she came in as a stray without a microchip. She was healthy enough, and highly socialized, so it was clear that she had a good home early on. We are always trying to piece together her history based on behaviors we can observe; she’ll hop right up on the dining room table looking for handouts (but never on the kitchen counter), she loves to snooze on your lap while you’re reading or watching a movie (but not as wild about your use of a laptop), she’s fascinated by people, birds, and other animals she can see through the windows (but does not want to go outside), she doesn’t startle easily, isn’t enthusiastic about playtime with toys, loves to talk and will join small groups for conversation including unfamiliar visitors, and can leap effortlessly to 3ft or more. What a cat!
We hit a little rough patch about a month in, where she started marking in inappropriate locations. There aren’t any really good locations for this sort of thing, but she picked a particularly bad one – our pillows! We had to make the bedroom off limits for a while, and after a few days of good behavior she was allowed back in. But she did it again. I called the behavior specialist at the shelter for advice, and it was suggested that we try a pheromone diffuser to calm her down. We got that going, and it seemed to be doing some good. But then in another week or so she hit the pillows again. This was a little bit of a crisis, because it was clear that she was upset with us or something. Eventually we tried changing to a new type of cat litter, and all has been well since then.
I mentioned “strange ways” before, did you catch that? So here’s one. After we get home from work she’ll meet us at the door, tell us about her day, and lead me to the kitchen to dish out her favorite dinner food. After that we start settling in to our evening activities, making dinner, doing laundry and so on. Then we’ll hear it – rowRa, roowRA, RooowRAA! What the hell is that? It’s Emily, in the bathroom, standing in the tub, saying “rowra” over and over. Not sure why she’s doing it, but it’s a pretty regular thing that happens about 30 minutes after we get home from work. It’s called “Tub Song”.
Another strange thing is her “head bump” technique. All cats like to do this, but Emily takes it up a notch. If you’re leaning over, say, tying your shoes or otherwise lowering your head, don’t be surprised if a furry cat head comes flying in for a head bump. She’ll stand up on her back feet and drive that noggin of hers right at your forehead, sometimes adding velocity by leaping for special emphasis. Strange.
This weekend marks the 6-month anniversary of Emily’s arrival. She’s now a highly valued member of the organization.