I’ve noticed a weird thing. No matter how much you may earn your rent telling people what animal welfare is, being flown half way across the world to teach this to professionals, and being generally young and successful at this whole ‘making a career of animals’ lark – when you make a big decision like “I’m going to get a cat”, you become racked with self doubt.
Maybe it’s just me.
I know, on an intellectual level, that I am more than capable of looking after a cat. I know that while I might not give her a perfect life (because no animal ever has a perfect life), it is life that will be pretty damn good. And yet I’m a compulsive worrier.
On Monday I picked up Athena from my friend Leigh’s house. She has been fostering kittens for Arthurshiel Rescue Centre, and Athena is one of a litter from 8 month old Star, who couldn’t cope with her babies. After a little brush with tapeworm that had made her feel a bit ill, she was finally ready to come home with me at the age of 9 weeks exactly, with all of her siblings already rehomed.
It was a long car journey, with a very grumpy little lady complaining most of the way. When I caught her eye at traffic lights the complaining would start again.
When we finally got home, I sat back and opened her carrier, trying to ignore the hammering of my heart – would she be terrified? Would she find some unknown hole in the wall and get stuck in the Kingdom of the Mice (never mind that I still haven’t figured out how the mice were emigrating from the Kingdom of the Mice in the first place)? Well she immediately started exploring, finding the darkest, sneakiest corner of the room (turns out not to be gateway to Kingdom of the Mice so we’re all good), and then she came to see me. With a quick head rub and a purr she was emboldened enough to run to the other side of the room.
Purring within ten minutes of coming into her new home. You’d think I’d have relaxed about this point, right?
So there was plenty of exploring, although she steadfastly refused to enter her perfectly pleasant igloo bed, or her tree nest. After a little bout of play she fell asleep on my lap for a while, and only woke up to play a little bit longer.
When I couldn’t stay awake a moment longer I decided to leave the door to the bedroom open, to see if she would follow. After a few minutes of calling, she decided she’d come and see what this whole other world was about. She explored briefly, but in coming to see me for some reassurance, she discovered something quite wonderful, quite mighty . . . the memory foam mattress.
My friends, you haven’t seen true mystified delight until you’ve seen a kitten discover memory foam. She played for a little while before curling up under my arm and falling fast asleep.
I’d love to say I slept like a log and that all my worries faded away. I stayed awake all night and fretted about her habit of chewing on electrical wires.
In the morning Athena was confident enough to explore under the bed for a little while, and then headed to the living room. Knowing I’d no chance of sleep, I followed, and we played and cuddled and bonded all day. Was I feeling relaxed yet? Ask me about the moment I lost sight of her and somehow convinced myself she was stuck behind a kitchen cupboard (she wasn’t, she was relaxing in her hidey place behind the tv stand). When I left her for an hour and a half on Tuesday, I came back convinced she would somehow have broken herself, she had been in her hidey hole and came to see me immediately for cuddles.
For the next few months, Fluffy Fridays will be devoted to Athena’s development, but for now, I’m just trying to relax into the idea that I can look after this little lady, and give her the best possible home, while teaching her that computer charger are not for teething.
But in the mean time I have to pop off as we’ve discovered that our tail is fun for chewing . . .