The last 20 hours or so have been kind of wild around the Michelbacher household. There are now three of us in this one-bedroom apartment. The new arrival is female, weighs a little under eight pounds, and is covered in black and white fur. Yes–we’ve got a cat here now. Her name is Felicity.
When we moved out of Dallas’ parents’ house, we had to make the difficult decision to leave my cat Dylan with them. Being used to having the freedom to go in and out of the house mostly as he pleases meant Dylan was not going to be happy cooped up in an apartment, and our neighbors would not have been happy to have to listen to him pacing and crying, as he tends to do. In addition, his chronic health problems mean that my in-laws both felt like it would be better for him to stay with them, in a home he was familiar with, where my father-in-law could keep him under close supervision. (They’ve only been to our apartment twice since we moved in.) We go to their house at least twice a week and spend several hours at a time with Dylan. He seems to be very content.
Anyway, we had no plans to get a pet, even though it feels so weird to not have one around, given how many dogs and cats Dallas’ parents have at their house. Dallas was driving out to a football game this past Friday and snapped a picture of a tuxedo cat that he thought had snuck off someone’s porch or something, because there are actual houses up the road from our apartment complex. I thought for a minute about how irresponsible it was to let a cat outdoors around here, with busy roads and parking lots and crappy drivers everywhere, but put it out of my mind. But then last night, just before dinner, we heard a squirrel totally losing its mind over something outside. Went out on the balcony and the tuxedo cat was on the ground under the tree next to our balcony. We went to go downstairs to check on it and make sure it wasn’t hurt, and the cat actually came up the stairs to meet us. And she was sooooo friendly!
We actually let her come into the apartment and figured we’d just get a couple of supplies (a litter box and a small bag of food) and post some “found cat” posters, until we realized how skinny she was–there’s no way she has a home. She’s got some fairly recent scratches on her nose that make it look like she got in a fight. Dallas ran for the litter box and cat food while I stayed home with her last night, and I hadn’t even started getting the food poured into her new bowl before she was eating what was coming out of the bag. She ate for at least fifteen minutes before she wandered off, made a circuit of the living room, and came back to the bowl.
When we mentioned her to the apartment office, they were aware there was a stray cat down here and were thrilled we had taken her in, so I assume at least a few of the leasing agents had seen her over the last few days. From her behavior and where she’s been seen around here, we’re guessing someone in a neighboring building moved out and was unable or unwilling to take her. She’s litter-trained, doesn’t scratch anything (furniture, screens, carpet, blinds, or people, even when she was mad about being in the cat carrier today), and according to Dr. Father-in-Law, has a spay scar. So at some point in her life, someone loved her and took good care of her.
Felicity also tested negative for some of the common (and potentially serious) illnesses commonly seen in strays–feline immunodeficiency and feline leukemia. She didn’t even have ear mites, which was kind of amusing to us because my mother-in-law said someone had actually brought a probably $800 designer kitten to the clinic to be checked over the other day (they had traveled from another part of the state to buy it and wanted to have it looked over before they drove home) and even that cat had mites! We have to put a deworming solution on her in a few days (we put flea treatment on her yesterday just in case) to ensure she gets rid of any worms she might have, but she is ridiculously healthy. She’s not a kitten, but she’s still fairly young. She’s incredibly chill and I think it will be good for Dallas to have another living thing here to hang out with while I’m at work.
I’m glad we brought her in last night. It poured here last night and this morning, and she came to our bedroom doorway meowing at about 2:30 this morning during a strong thunderstorm. I came out and got on the couch for the rest of the night because she acted like she didn’t want to come into our bedroom. Felicity isn’t much of a cuddler, but she got up there with me and seemed to be calmer with someone there to reassure her everything was okay. She was right on my heels as I got ready for work this morning, and acted like she didn’t want me to go (I had to be there at 7, but left a light on in the living room for her just in case the dark is something she’s afraid of). Today when we left to run to the office, she was sitting in our living room windowsill watching us drive away. We made a quick trip to PetSmart after that and got her some toys and treats, and when we got home, she was in the same windowsill and meowed at us when we got out of the truck. (Our screens have to be pulled into the apartment to be removed, so I’m not really concerned that she could pop the screen out and fall out the window.) She isn’t terribly interested in toys (except my hair, and she doesn’t play with it with her claws out), but she sure loves the treats we brought home.
Other things Felicity loves: sleeping under Dallas’ desk (and the printer stand, and in the entertainment center, and…) , stretching out in our windowsills (just the right size for her), climbing on the kitchen table (we need to nip that in the bud, but it’s just so gosh darn cute), naps, being nosy, belly rubs, and headbutting me and Dallas in the face so we’ll pay more attention to her.
Things Felicity hates: dogs, other cats, thunderstorms, our living room curtains, the school bus that comes every morning to pick up our downstairs neighbor (the beeping noise when it backs up makes her very upset), sudden noises, people being noisy outside our apartment, diesel trucks, the cat carrier, riding in the truck, having us meow back at her when she meows at us.
We’re still learning a lot about each other, but I’m so glad she’s come into our lives. I really think she’ll be good for Dallas. He is almost done with his dissertation (!!!!!!!) and has been making a lot of progress with job applications and things like that. He’s got an appointment with a new psychiatrist in early November, as well as with a therapist–I’m hoping this will help him more than his current treatment plan, which worked great for a while but is less and less adequate as his needs change.
I guess what I’m saying is that I think she’ll be good for our mental health, even though we’ll both need to start taking antihistamines every day again. (Hooray for being cat people with cat allergies!)