The one downside of going away for a few days is finding someone to look after our three cats while we’re gone. When I found out I was going to be the Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic 2014, I naturally chose my husband as my plus one, but that meant I spent almost an entire year fretting over the cat sitter problem. Our three babies are getting on in years, and they’re spoiled rotten, so putting them in a kennel was out of the question. For reasons I won’t get into, we didn’t want to impose on family this time around. Fortunately, our good friend Ed came to the rescue.
Well, okay, I did him a favor and then informed him this was what he’d have to do in return. I figured all would be well, especially after he and his wife came out to the house the weekend before we left and spent some quality time getting to know Bala, Nefret, and Feral. Bala really took to Ed, which was good, since she’s the one who has a potassium deficiency and he’d have to take over the pill-giving while we were away.
I should explain that Bala is good about taking her pills. I rattle the pill bottle. She hops up on the kitchen island. I open her mouth with one hand, poke in the pill with the other, then hold her mouth closed, gently rub her throat, and the pill goes down. Once in a while she spits it out and we have to repeat the process, but normally there’s no problem. You see, she knows there’s a reward coming, a handful of cat treats if she cooperates.
So, off we went to Malice.
Bala was waiting by the door when Ed arrived that first day. Unfortunately, by the time he put out fresh food and water, she’d disappeared into the cellar. After a first frantic phone call, the story resumed via email, with illustrations.
“See, I have two out of three.”
Two hours later, a second email arrived:
“So, old habits die hard. What do you do when the suspect eludes you? That’s right you call for backup. In this case it was in the form of my wife. We arrived at the scene and searched for the suspect.” They located Bala under the bed that Feral was sleeping on “thus causing me to think he was a lookout and in on the plot! As soon as the suspect was discovered, it fled the scene. It was later located behind the couch.”
“Now, we have two choices. Chase Bala down and give her the pill. Or let her win. Feeling it would only traumatize her and would not be what you would do, we let Bala win.”
The saga continued the next day:
“So we walked into the house. I said hi to Bala. I saw a black tail streak to the corner and poof . . . It was gone! Vanished! Does Bala do any other magic tricks?”
The next email contained a suggestion:
“I have two Have A Heart traps. Perhaps I could offer one of them to Bala to rest in? I will make another attempt to make contact with Bala this afternoon, but based on past attempts………………. Just curious, but is the medication for bi-polar, or manic depressive, or something like that? Enjoy your limelight. I’ll be savoring the fact that I can repeatedly lose a battle of wits to a cat.”
The final email from Ed, sent on the Sunday afternoon of Malice Domestic, read PROGRESS! on the subject line. However,
“I said progress not success, there is a difference ya know. Today we can be in the same room as Bala! I can toss her a treat without invoking a flight response. AND, as soon as the lock clicks, I can watch Bala walk across the room towards the food dishes in the kitchen. We are not sure there will be any canned food left. Feral, my B.F.F., ate one serving and started on the second one. Sure does have a good appetite for an old guy. Nefret didn’t budge but was breathing and looked quite comfortable.”
Needless to say, everyone was fine when we arrived home at around 2AM Monday morning. Bala took her pill without a bit of trouble (Sorry, Ed!) and as soon as I sat down I had the other two in my lap. I think they missed us, although it’s hard to be sure with cats. They spend most of their lives sleeping, so who knows what their concept of time is like? They are champions, though, at making their people feel guilty for leaving them alone for so long.