Thursday, March 19, 2009

Confined Cat

Confusion morphed into revulsion in a fraction of a second - the same amount of time I flicked the light above my stairs on and then off again.

"It's a bird," I shuddered as soon as my brain processed the gruesome scene. A nearly unrecognizable heap of naked flesh surrounded by fluffy gray feathers. I shook my head and shivered again. "Was a bird," I corrected before going to fetch materials to dispose of the remains. Upon descending the stairs, I frowned darkly at the trail of feathers that marked a path from the door, through the living room and up the stairs to where Chienne and I had been sleeping.

It was 4:30 in the morning and I was battling my gag reflex as I vacuumed feathers and scooped the creature into a dustpan.

"Unacceptable," I hissed at the cat as he observed the proceedings. He met my gaze, looking rather regal in his boredom, and I grew furious. "I will not have it," I told him firmly. "You are a bad, bad cat!"


"No," I replied to inquiries from my parents and Friend. "I haven't seen him. It is warm outside so I don't think he's frozen. But I don't know if he's coming home."

I would sniff with disdain upon seeing him after the bird incident. I fed him, tossing his bowl of kibble on the floor with obvious contempt. I'd do little more than nod upon being in the same room and began to lock the door to keep him inside at night.

"He'll adjust," Mom said when I confided that I wasn't sure I liked him anymore. "Once he's inside all the time, he'll be a sweet cat again. Plus, you did let him out. This is what cats do."

"Poor Sprout," Friend repeated, only cementing my resolve that he would understand the depth of my disapproval.

Yet when I returned from a recent trip - I've forgotten which one exactly - there was no stripey cat. No demanding meows or diminishing kibble levels in his plastic bowl. And I worried - he doesn't like people so I couldn't see him finding another family. Had he drowned in the river? Eating a poisoned mouse and taken ill? Caught some feline disease? While there wasn't the frantic worry and heartbreaking misery that would have occurred had my dog gone missing, I was very sad.

"Hi," I offered two days after his disappearance when he stretched after coming up from the basement. "Welcome home, Mr. Sprout." I walked over and scooped him up, telling him I'd been sad and worried. He tolerated the attention for a moment or so before squirming and I set him on the floor.


He's taken lessons from me in terms of attitude when thwarted. For my response to the bird has been replicated during his recent deprivation of outdoor access. When he deigns acknowledge us at all, it's likely with a sound of utter displeasure. He will not be petted or told he's pretty. He lurks in the basement or dark corners, hoping for someone to relax control of the door so he can enjoy the warmer weather.

While I was away again, my parents persisted in our indoor effort. I was curled on the loveseat, watching television with my dad, when Sprout came downstairs from the bedrooms with typical feline grace. He wandered over to examine his food and nibbled for a moment. I saw him look at the door with seeming resignation before going to peer out the window longingly. Steeling myself against sympathy, I returned my attention to the show about car restoration and was startled when Sprout leaped up to join me.

"Hey, buddy," I murmured, smoothing his stripey coat and rubbing under his white chin. I smiled when he purred, ruffling his fur and smoothing it again. He curled on my chest - a soft, warm weight - and arched into my touch as I petted him.

He looked directly into my eyes after a few moments, his eyes green and serious, and meowed. After that single sound, I nodded while maintaining eye contact.

"I know," I told him. "But it's actually my house so I get to win. You're an inside cat now, my dear. But I do love you." He regarded me for a moment before sighing - there is a good deal of that between me, Chienne and Sprout - and relaxing again. I continued to pet him absently, feeling a tug of sympathy when he went to stare out the door again.

I came up to write a blog post, lying supine upon my soft mattress among mounds of pillows. I was revising a couple of sentences when he leaped up beside me, curling on my chest again and preventing me from seeing the screen until I had offered sufficient attention. He has curled up against my shoulder, slender body rumbling with purrs, and waiting for his blog post to be finished. It is, I decided, only fair to keep you updated since I kept the pretty cat more because it made a good blog post than out of any real desire for another pet.

But we appear to be adjusting. And, for the moment, I think I'm winning.


Psycgirl said...

I love when Cat wants to sit on my chest while I am trying to read or work. It's a forced break. Tonight Cat sat on my bed beside my head while I called friends. I'm glad Sprout is warming up to his confinement :)

JaneB said...

Sprout is a cat. You let cats out, they do cat stuff. Like bring in small animals. Bringing them in shows that your house feels like his home, his core territory... He isn't being bad, he's being a cat. And cat = second class to many dog-lovers, poor things.

You presumably have no problem with less-than-savoury dog things - like displaying their genitals in public, eating disgusting things, having to scoop their poop in public - because they are part of Chienne. Being a hunter is part of poor Sprout - I hope you have lots of toys and are trailing things-on-string for him to hunt, to help him get used to being an indoor mog?? And I hope the adaptation continues to go smoothly for you both - for me, a house without a cat (even if it has dogs in it) is somehow a little empty, a little less homely.

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