For several days last week, I had to go out of town and leave my feline friends in the care of my husband. As always, I left detailed instructions for feeding schedules and litter box cleaning. Even though I was only going to be away for just a few days, I did NOT want to disrupt Gracie and Ben’s schedule more than necessary.
The day of my return I was filled with excited anticipation as I imagined my glorious return. My cats would run to meet me as soon as I opened the door. Purring happily, they would weave around my legs as I moved into the family room.
Apparently, I was confusing the reaction of my cats with the typical reaction of dogs to their human caregiver’s return. I was sooooo off base with my imaginary scenario.
Walking inside the house after my four hour drive, I happily called out, “I’m home everybody!” My husband appeared and gave me a hearty hug. Bunny ran-hopped across the family room, skidded down the entry hall, and let out a huge “Mommy’s Home!” meow. Gracie was NOWHERE to be seen.
Assuming she must be in the litter box finishing up her personal business, I moved blissfully into the family room ready to receive her affectionate greeting. Bunny continued to hop-dance around me letting everyone in the county know that I was home with his loud “My Mommy’s Home! My Mommy ‘s Finally Home!” meows. Then …. Gracie emerged from the laundry room, and my happy state of mind quickly vanished.
Unlike Bunny who seemed to be exuberantly happy to see me, Gracie just sat on her haunches and stared at me with utter disgust. I could just see the following conversation going on in her mind as she used her intimidator stare to showcase her feelings about my return.
“So…you think you can just waltz back into our lives without repercussions after abandoning us. I think not! Hmmph! We may not even need you anymore. It seems the man who lives here too is also an adequate combination can opener/food dispenser. His litter box cleaning skills are a little lacking however. “
Slowly, I moved toward her with the intention of giving her a head scratch.
“Back off girlfriend! I see what you are doing. You think a little scratch on the place I can’t reach will win me over. You are going to have to work to get to touch me. Let’s see how far around the house you will follow me before I allow you the privilege of touching my delicate little head.”
Gracie waited until I was barely a foot away before she flipped her tail straight up behind her, sauntered several feet away, and gracefully positioned herself on the floor. Knowing full well that this is a test of wills, I caved in and redirected myself to her new location. This series of events continued until we had made a complete circle around the kitchen. Then, satisfied that I had paid part of my penance for desertion, she allowed me to gently scratch her head while uttering a barely discernible hiss.
After several minutes, I attempted to change my scratching location from head to beneath chin. With a quick snap of her sharp tiny teeth, Gracie signaled that I was NOT completely forgiven yet. I sighed as I straightened my aching back upright. I’m not sure when I lost my free will in my relationship with Gracie. But, I know it has happened. In order to get back in her good graces, it’s going to take a lot of groveling feline style. At least, Bunny was still excited about my return.
Exhausted from both the drive and battle of wills with Gracie, I plopped down on the family room couch where my husband was waiting with a much needed cup of coffee. Within minutes, Bunny vaulted over the arm of the couch and landed on the blanket spread across my lap – narrowly missing the steaming mug.
With great gusto, Bunny began kneading the blanket in preparation for a nap with mommy. It didn’t take long for the customary drool to emerge from his mouth and the “zombie like” stare to show in his eyes. After that, he plopped down on the blanket, snuggled next to me, and leaned his little head back so that I could send him off to “la la” land with a soft chin scratch.
Glancing up to the shelf above the refrigerator where Gracie stared at me from her bed, I knew in my heart all would be forgiven eventually…..someday….within a few years for sure. And until then, I had my husband and Bunny to keep me company. All things considered, it felt good to be home!
Until next time, remember...
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.