Sunday, December 09, 2007

Life As A Screw In A Prison

Four in the afternoon, 38 degrees outside with a wind chill of 29 degrees. We're expecting our first hard freeze of the season tonight in North Texas, nearly three weeks later than usual.

And I'm living in an armed camp.

Some of you will remember that I adopted a six-month old kitten last October that I named Dinah. It has not been all sweetness and light. I got her the necessary shots and had her spayed. Even so, she has been a wild thing, sneaking out of the house whenever a door was opened. I finally accepted she was more feral than domestic. For the last four months, I've allowed her to come and go at will.

About every two days, she shows up, eats like a piglet and leaves. She is still very small--not yet two years old--and probably about eight pounds. She's a tough little bitch, snarling whenever Bobbin even looks at her.

We've had a weather alert for nearly three days, and I'd been concerned because it had been four days since I'd seen Dinah. Yesterday afternoon as I was coming home from the market, I saw her strolling up the hill nearly six houses from mine.

My feelings were a combination of relief and alarm. Relief because she was alive and alarm because she was so far from my house. In my experience, a cat who has accepted a home does not wander farther than three properties in any direction.

I called to her, and she came running. She let me pick her up but--when I put her in my car--she jumped out the open window.

I drove home and parked, walked to the corner and called to her. She came running, raced into the house and went straight for the food.

The trouble started when she realized I was not going to let her leave again. With the sleet storm expected tonight, I wasn't willing to risk her not returning.

She started by standing at the door and whining. Then she began pacing between the front door and the French doors in the den. Finally she resorted to throwing her undersized body at the glass.

I ignored her. Bobbin was fascinated. Unfortunately, she took her bad temper out on him, attacking him.

Now the house is divided into two camps. Dinah owns the den, breakfast room, kitchen and laundry room. Bob lays claim to the rest of the house. Neither is happy. Bob resents not being able to prowl his entire domain. Dinah hisses and growls at me when I pass her.

Heaven help me.


Josephine Damian said...

You don't need help from heaven, you need me, the cat whisperer.

It takes about a year for a cat to bond with the owner and establish its place in the pecking order.

Hostilities will give way to acceptance.

Your cat is feral because she's been outside - trust me - cats have a short memory - eventually she'll forget the joys of eating mice and prefer the comfort and safety of home.

A outdor cat is a cat doomed to die an early, awful death. Be extra careful coming and going lest she gets out again.

Eventually, she'll be so happy at home, that if she does get out, she'll spend her time circling the house trying to find her way back in.

Maya Reynolds said...

Josephine: In my experience (nearly thirty years of owning cats), if a cat has not learned to bond before six months, s/he may attach to you, but s/he will never truly be a "lap" cat. I've taken in strays, unwanted cats and special needs cats and have learned to meet the cat where it's at.

All of my cats have been indoor/outdoor cats. I did lose one. Generally, I have to put them down around age twenty.

Thanks for not using my blog for
self-promotion [much].

Heather B. Moore said...

I need to send my 3-year old over. They would be a good match ;)