Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bad Cat

Oh sure, I know he looks all sweet and loving in this picture. This morning, however, was another story.

Anyone who works at home must learn how to set boundaries while still remaining flexible. Unexpected things happen to everyone. If you work in an office outside of your home, you must deal with meetings, visitors, bosses, and other routine interruptions. At home, your interruptions come in other forms. Furry, misbehaving forms, in this case.

Baby Cat is this deceptively sweet-looking feline's name. Well, that wasn't his name this morning, but I try to keep things family-friendly around here. Baby was my late mother's cat, and one of the last things I promised her before she passed away was that I would take care of him. That was before he started spraying in my house a couple of months ago.

I was getting ready to go to work today, and since my office is at home, this includes a quick tidying of the house. I was in mid-tidy in my bedroom when Baby ran out of the room. Animals are a lot like children; I could tell he had done something wrong just from the wacky way he ran out of my room. That's when I smelled urine. Mr. Baby had backed up to my bedroom curtains and drenched them with pee. While I am normally an animal lover, at that moment all I wanted to do was catch him and tie his peeing parts into knots. He picked up on my angry vibe, and the chase was on.

My 11-year-old son was soon running after me as I chased Baby through the house. Luckily for Baby, he is fast, fat, and strong. I caught him once but he used his feline heft to break my grip and run away again. I was soon cursing and sweating. All I could think of (outside of cat homicide) was, "I haven't got time for this! I'm supposed to be working!" (Add curse words liberally for a more verbatim version.)

I share my office with this bad cat. When he moved in with us after Mom died, that's where he lived until he got used to our family. In an attempt to avert sure death, after ten or fifteen laps around the house, he dashed into the office and hid in "The Baby Cave," a portion of the closet that was created just for Mr. Spoiled. He hissed at me when I poked my head in and told him, "You're out of here! You are going to live someplace else! I will not have an animal pissing in my house!"

My son was aghast. He immediately laid down in front of the office door and announced he was on a hunger strike until I commuted Baby's sentence. "No, Mom, no! You cannot give Baby away! He was Nana's cat!"

All the while, there was the clock... ticking away my Thursday.

I explained to my sobbing child that he would feel quite differently about Baby if the spraying continued. I explained that I would never take Baby to the pound, but that I was going to be calling the no-kill shelters and putting him on a waiting list. I explained that I could understand the spraying in the garage, and I could understand the spraying in a cat toy that another cat had used, but I could not understand spraying in my bedroom on my drapes. "I hate you," was his response. Baby Cat felt pretty much the same way.

I left a message at the shelter and waited for them to call me back. "Come downstairs so I can fix you something to eat," I called up the stairs.

"No! I'm not moving or eating until you let Baby stay." Great. That's what I get for teaching him about civil disobedience.

The lady from Heaven Can Wait called me back and broke the bad news to me about my bad cat. When I asked her about a waiting list, she said, "Oh, I'm afraid we're beyond that. We're not even taking names." They are overwhelmed with unwanted and abandoned cats. I asked her if the other shelters in town are in the same boat, and she sadly answered, "Pretty much."

I went back upstairs to tell Gandhi and Baby the Spraying Devil Cat that a reprieve had been issued. I put Baby Cat on house arrest in the office until further notice, and then I fed his valiant protector.

When I worked a 9-5 in an office outside the house, I regularly groused about stupid meetings, talkative visitors, and other office time wasters. As annoying as those things were, I never, ever had to deal with a cat pee interruption, nor did any of my employees lie down and refuse to eat until I changed my mind about a decision. All of which is why working in a home office will prepare you to handle just about any kind of interruption or delay. And, what the heck, I got a good story out of it after all.

BAD CAT UPDATE: Baby is still restricted to one room while I research his spraying problem. So far, I haven't found much information that I did not already know--namely, that spraying can be a notoriously difficult habit to break once it's started. The behavior may be a result of health issues, like urinary tract problems, which I read are more common in big fellas (15+ pounds) like Baby. I think it's also possible that his behavior may be jealously over our other cat, who has been sick recently. (Or maybe he and my dog who has colitis are in collusion; the dog has ruined all my carpeting, so maybe Baby offered to chip and and ruin the furniture and drapery.) I removed anything in his room that smelled like the other cat and have been giving Baby extra attention and affection. I'm going to try Feliway next, and we may be visiting the vet to rule out health issues. Fortunately, he has forgiven me for chasing him through the house. As I type, he's stretched out on the floor, purring.

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