August 27, 2009

Cat Psychology

Today I heard a funny thud-thud-thud noise coming from the bathroom. It sounded like something reverberating in the bathtub. Sweet Pickle who was lying at my feet, and Sour Pickle who was lying on his cat perch beside me, both looked toward the bathroom although they did not seem to be alarmed. I couldn’t imagine what could make that kind of noise and I was almost afraid to go look. When I went into the bathroom the curtain was drawn across the tub as the maid left it. I shut the bathroom door so whatever it was couldn’t escape and slowly peered behind the curtain—and there was Frida! She had found a large marble-sized superball and was bouncing and chasing it around the bathtub. When she realized I was there she tried to run away. I chased her around the toilet and picked her up to pet her for awhile, then she was ok. I put her back down and rolled the ball toward her, and she began to play again.

All day long she has been batting the ball around the house. She picks it up and carries it from place to place. She batted it under the dresser and crawled underneath to chase it. It was a real struggle for her to get underneath as she has gotten so fat. It rolled out from under the dresser seemingly a little blue ball with a mind of its own. I rolled it back to her. She rolled it back to me with an uncanny aim. I rolled it back to her. This went on for about 10 minutes until I tired of the game, then she crawled back out to chase it around the room some more. She is a little over a year old now. She is really only pettable at night in the dark when she crawls up on our bed to sleep, or when she is sleeping somewhere else in my bedroom. She runs away from me anywhere else in the house if I approach her. The other one, Carmen, whom I refer as the Little One, is 10 months old now. She is no longer so little. In my absence both Frida and Carmen have ballooned, their caretakers have been feeding them way too much and they both look like role models for the Miss Pampered Piglet contest.

At night, we herd the two feral cats into our bedroom. I guess I hope they will become more accustomed to being around us and that they will grow to like us better.

Even though the animals sleep in our room at night, even in the dark Carmen is afraid of me and runs away. When I get up in the morning and open the bedroom door, she races out into the living room eager to get away. Most days she spends hanging out on top of the broad back of a leather chair where she can look out the window. She is an interesting long-haired tortoiseshell and looks like someone took a paint brush and spattered her gray fur with little speckles of brilliant orange; then her legs have orange stripes laid on top of the gray of her body and her paws are all speckled. She is a really interesting color, but it is hard to notice all this as she runs away so fast you can’t ever get a really good look at the details. She is the one with the funny bent tail.

In the last two days, I decided that perhaps we don’t need a such feral cat inside, and I should invite her to go live outside with the other two outdoor cats. I sequestered the rest of the animals in my bedroom and opened the front door. I went across the room up the stairs to the living room area until I was standing across from Carmen who was lying on the leather chair; there was a coffee table between us. I said, “Would you rather go outside and live with the outside cats?” Alarmed that I was so close, she jumped off the chair and started across the room. When she got even with the open door she looked outside and sniffed the air, then crept very very s l o w l y past the outside door. She acted is if she walked slowly enough perhaps the outside wouldn’t reach out and grab her!

Yesterday I tried to corner Carmen in the bathroom where she was retching. I had shut the door behind me so she couldn’t get out. Around and around she raced to get away from me, then she hissed violently at me and started issuing the deep wailing meows of a seriously disturbed cat. I was afraid to try and touch her and I let her out of the room. They do say some feral kittens can never be tamed and I am afraid she is one of those. It seems after I backed off in the bathroom the she is less frightened of me and comes closer to observe me at times. She actually crawled up on the bed with the other cats and the dog early this morning. I just don’t know what to make of this cat.

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