Monday, August 3
bob and me
I am tending my friend's cat. Well, "tending" is not quite the right word. I am on duty should he need me. Cats seldom need anything, but Bob is an 'indoor/outdoor cat and although he has 6 toes on each paw, he still can't open the screen door. So, like it or not, he needs me.
I was his doorman a few weeks ago and it didn't go well. The first morning of my watch, I saw him in the early, dewy morning light, preening on the picnic table in the back yard. I called his name softly, opened the door and stepped aside. He sauntered in and headed to his food bowl, stopped, stood still and slowly turned his head to see who had let him in. I was not who he was expecting.
After that, it was a battle of wills.
If he saw me coming, he scooted away. If I held the door open for him, he refused to come. I tried many things. I am a long time cat person. I propped open the back door and tossed food bits onto the steps and hid out of sight. He approached from an angle, the better to see if some stoopid human was trying to hide. He would see me and freeze. We stared each other down until I got tired and put food on the step for him.
Then I tried the open door/food thing but I would hide in the bathroom across the room, peeking through a teeny opening between the door and jamb. My plan was to watch him walk in the house then dash out of the bathroom, across the room and hip check the door closed.
But he only came in as far as the threshold and froze, staring at the bathroom. My legs got tired and I got a stiff neck from crouching over the knob, hand in position. I stood, pulled the door open and said to him that he won, I was going home. He retreated to the picnic table and I put food on the step.
It was July 4th and the fireworks were loud and constant and I was worried that he was frightened. I called to him, searched the yard, looked to see if he was hiding in bushes. Nothing.
I thought about him all night.
In the morning, I saw him in the driveway. I casually walked up the steps to the porch, opened the door and left it open, sat on the couch and picked up the paper and waited.
It took many minutes for him to enter the house in slow motion, but he did come in. I stayed motionless on the couch until he was far enough away from the door that I could push it closed before he could scat. But he wasn't interested in escape. This time he wanted to be where he was and he allowed me to pretend it was my idea.
So, this time around, I decided that since it was Summer and good weather and he had many porches to sleep on and food already on the step, that I would not worry so much, that I would not resort to absurd machinations to get a 9 pound animal to bend to my will.
I spotted him sitting on the porch railing, observing the neighborhood with hooded eyes. I nonchalantly walked up on the porch, opened the door and said "Bob?"
He looked at me, hopped down, brushed against my legs and went in. Each day it was the same, I would call his name, and in he'd come. He let me pet him. He even purred.
I don't know how he knew that he had trained me. I'm not sure what test was passed.
I'm just glad I didn't have to hide in the bathroom again.