"D needs somebody to take care of his cat for a few days. Shouldn't be longer than the weekend".
(It's been a MONTH. With no end in sight.)
Anybody who has cats knows that introducing a new one into a household takes time and lots of patience. The cat we're taking care of, Hunter, is a Big Orange Kitty, and is so timid and jumpy that you'd think he'd never been around people before. He's three times the size of Chase and for the first three nights was so afraid of him that he'd yowl whenever Chase came into view.
I wish cats could talk:
Big Orange Kitty: Hmmm, okay new house, new people around - I don't like it much, but at least they feed and pet me lots. Maybe I'll come out from behind the chair for a bit... Ohmygod! AAaaaahhhhhhhh! It's ANOTHER cat! And he's COMING RIGHT FOR ME! RUUUUUN!!!
Chase: Dum-de-dum, what to do, what to do. Think I'll roll around on the floor for a bit, then run around like something is chasing me. The People Who Feed Me always seem to enjoy that. If I'm extra cute, maybe I'll get a TREAT again! Hey - wait a minute! What's the big orange thing over there? I better growl at it just in case it wants to eat my food or something.
Growling and teeth baring ensues.
At first, this process was pretty funny. Hunter would growl, then turn tail and hide while Chase perched atop random chairs and window ledges to peer down at him. The problem with The Big Orange Kitty is that his timidness runs to pretty much everything:
from the sound of my ring tinging against a glass (RUN AWAY! WE'RE BEING BOMBED!)
to people walking towards him (AHHH! SOMETHING BIG IS APPROACHING! MAYBE IT WANTS TO EAT ME!!)
to the sound of the vacuum (THAT'S IT - I'M NEVER COMING OUT FROM UNDER THE BED! NEVER!).
The poor cat seems to operate on one of two levels: 1. Mild fearfulness, with some tolerated petting; 2. Abject terror. As a result, every noise startles him - and for the first three nights we were treated to a symphony of thumps, growling, yowling, and occasionally the world's scariest snarling noise. I guess at nighttime The Big Orange Kitty likes to pretend he's waaay bigger and scarier than during the day: Chase would approach him slowly, Hunter would growl. A few steps closer, then the yowling begins "mmmmmrrrowwwwwwwww". A step closer and (the world's most) evil snarling would erupt from the cat who spends his entire day hiding from everything that moves - including cat toys. A few times a night he would screech in Chase's face so loudly that I'd jump straight out of bed and run into the living room.
I'm happy to report that this has finally ceased and the cats now seem to get along. On Hunter's fourth morning with us, Jeremy found them sitting side by side in the living room as though they'd been friends all along.
Chase takes great pleasure in stalking his new big orange friend, and will hide in corners for several minutes just for the chance to jump out and scare the hell out of him. Since we haven't had a larger cat around for a few years now, I'd forgotten how funny it is to see a big cat hauling ass as fast as he can from one end of the house to another.
The owner of the Big Orange Kitty came up with an interesting comparison earlier in the week during his visit (during which Hunter behaved perfectly and barely emitted a meow, let alone the devil-cat snarling we were treated to before and after he came by). Hunter was curled up under a blanket, behind the chair, hiding as usual, while Chase lounged atop one of my Mad Science kits.
"Wow, Chase is such a Display Kitty!"
At our confused looks, he explained that a Display Kitty is one who will make a point of lounging in the middle of the floor, on top of couches and chairs, etc. as though everybody should be looking at him. A Display Kitty will also complain if he's not the center of attention and spends most of his time around people.
In contrast is Hunter's type: the Hiding Kitty. These cats rarely come out from underneath beds or behind chairs, will not respond to their names, run away from people who try to pet them, and can go the entire day without being seen.
Regardless of whether a cat is a Display Kitty or a Hiding Kitty, they all like to run around and play. Which these two do pretty much constantly, making our once-peaceful apartment the venue of an on-going production called Kitty Wars:
Anybody know how to train a cat to sleep at night?